Narrative Therapy Conference 2009

This conference was made possible through the initiatives and contributions of the following people and institutions:

  • Elize Morkel psychology and Narrative therapy training practice with the full-time assistance of Belinda Grove who acted as conference coordinator
  • The Conference Advisory Committee consisting of the following colleagues who volunteered time and expertise – Christa Benade, Janet Bytheway, Jenny Dunkley, Therese Hulme, Estelle Raymont and Linda van Duuren
  • Stellenberg Dutch Reformed Church Pastoral Care Centre who collaborated to provide us with a lovely venue and technical support for the conference
  • The Family Counseling Office, Trondheim, Norway who are participating in the cinference with twenty colleagues
  • Cheryl White and the Dulwich Centre Foundation for the free Pre-Conference workshop by David Denborough which took place on the 7 October 2009 in Somserset West
  • Presenters and collaborators – your abstracts and ideas make us extremely proud and we hope that all your papers will soon appear on the website
  • David Epston, Johnella Bird, Kaethe Weingarten, Jill Freedman &amp Gene Combs as well as Anthony Hawke who have sent special messages
  • The Crafts Group from Scottsville, Kraaifontein who will be selling some of the articles that they have made
  • Nicki Spies and the colleagues who will assist with the book sales
  • Colleagues who help with registratiuon, CPD table, act as chair persons and all who have assisted us so generously
  • We are grateful to all who have come to join in this celebration, we know that the economic recession taking its toll on all of our resources and are all the more grateful to you for your enthusiastic participation.

Name of Presenters and Topics

Appelt, Ilse &amp Oosthuysen, Lucia – Restorative Justice as a vehicle of narrative practices

Barker, Kim – Creative responses to trauma: narratives and therapy

Barker, Kim – Narrative therapy in the context of religious fundamentalism

Berry, Sheila – Simbhademe – A story of what happens when six Pondo communities reclaim and redefine their identity

Biermann, Hugo – “Shattered dreams: pastoral care with parents following the death of a child”

Bustnes, Ragnhild &amp Bustness, Gunnar – Metaphors from Michael White: landscape of action and landscape of identity

Bytheway, Janet – Making a little go a long way – Creative use of professional resources to provide therapeutic services to children in need.

Davies, Sally &amp Dunkey, Jenny – Parenting of Adolescents: A Collaborative Approach to Story Development

Hulme, Therese – When meaning-making turns to poetry: a cross-cultural journey with young people in a context of poverty.

Lasersohn, Brenda – Brain science: Resonance with the principles and practice of narrative thought

Malgas, Helen – Responding to people living with HIV/AIDS from a Narrative Therapy perspective

Morkel, Elize Johnstone, Ferial &amp de Waal, Neil-Owen – Plenay Session: Narrative Therapy Ripples in the South African Context

Nieuwmeyer, Sue – Narrative therapy in Hospice social work practice

Price, Linda – Narrative mediation – a transformative approach to conflict mediation

Reitan, Torila &amp Kristiansen, Lena – Facing family crisis: a group approach

Royston, Veronica – A personal journey in applying narrative practices to executive coaching within a SA multinational organization

Scrimgeour, Elizabeth Tong, Fran &amp Norwegian Colleagues – Plenary Session: Narrative Therapy ripples between South Africa and Norway

Solomons, Mita – The Spirit of the new Children’s Act, (38) 2005.

Spies, Nicki &amp Niehaus, Elonya – Creating Gender awareness within the workingenvironment as expressed by dominant discourses

Spies, Nicki – Journeys into the garden of sexuality: The voices of women’s sexuality in pastoral conversations

Van Duuren, Linda &amp Schoeman, Helene – Responding to the work that finds you:Application of Narrative Practices in School Contexts

Van Greunen, Johann – Caring for Caregivers: The role of alternative practices in weaving new threads of meaning within the South African HIV/AIDS and TB Context

Van Wyk, Elise – When Mourning turns into Dancing – Outing stories of women who love women

Wallace, Stephen – ADD and Narrative Therapy

Whitehead, Beverley – Narrative practices in career enrichment and team development with a leadership team

Witney, Mike – “Loitering under the Tree of meaning in Loss”


A post conference appreciation

Reflecting on the nine and a bit years I’ve known Elize as a friend, a teacher and a facilitator, it is her commitment to Narrative as contextual practice that stands out for me. Elize took the just, respectful, possibility-generating stance that I’ve come to associate with Narrative to such diverse contexts as the families of lost children, the terminally ill, the training of students at universities and the church, amongst others.

I fondly remember the times she visited me in Kraaifontein: sometimes as a teacher, sometimes as an empowered and aware witness- always engaging.

In terms of the wider narrative community, Elize has, over the years, made many connections possible between overseas teachers and Norwegian colleagues and ourselves. There are rich landscapes of action and meaning associated with these connections. Marginalised communities too have benefitted significantly from these connections. I want to honour Elize for this conference and how it offered another context of possibility to the marginalised people of Scottsville I invited there. Their reflections serve not only as a thank you to you Elize, but to the transformative spirit of Narrative that was present at the conference and of which they could be a part. It speaks to me of the experience the “South African Narrative” that David Epston spoke of. Elize has been supportive of and worked towards the development of such a Narrative all along.

I was often moved when I encountered teachers I did not even know in the sessions I attended: like the Liberian women in Linda Price’s session who, through a sex strike, forced their warring men to attend a mediation process. I also learnt from the once despondent teachers in Linda and Helene’s session that Narrative enabled them to look at themselves and the dreams they have for teaching differently. Lucia, Ilse and Jonathan’s work with prisoners in Pollsmoor made me appreciate the faith and courage with which they work. It is not only thought provoking, but deeply inspiring to me to discover where narrative can go…

Thank you Elize, for creating a context in which these voices could be heard a context in which I too could be surprised, delighted, and moved and through which my work could be witnessed and supported.

Therese Hulme


Dear Elize, Belinda and so many others.

What a great conference you put together! Sorry I missed the last session but had to get a plane back home.

There are many gatherings that one accepts invitations to attend, but few offer the sense of safety, kinship, and inspiration, as the one’s you so ably put together. It is not only the fact that everyone speaks the same therapeuitc language, but rather a shared ‘state of mind’ and from brain science – one gets a feeling of ‘feeling felt’ !!!


Hope you are all able to slow down and catch you breath…with love and appreciation as ever Brenda Lasersohn


Dear Elize

I just wanted to write to say thank-you for all the immense work and love you put into the conference. I remember Jonella Bird telling me how incredibly well you organised the conference last time in the Cape and this week I bore testimony to that. I so appreciated the detail you put into it and the way you thought everything through so carefully without giving prominence to one thing over another. You managed to weave so much together with such a diverse amount of work. I enjoyed the way people from outside narrative are using the practice to enhance their own work and was so glad to have exposure to that. More than anything though I am always energised when work is ’embodied’ rather than in flat-pack, or bullet form!! Then I know I am alive – when theory is embodied in practice.

I think I most enjoyed the David Denborough day because of this deep embodiment of his own practice and it took me to a new place concerning community of practice – to not know is such a powerful but vulnerable place to be and is so dependent on trusting those around you. It was so generous of you not to charge for this workshop as you must have had overheads.

Also the venue and the technical side worked so brilliantly along with the sumptuous food…. All in all it was a great time for me and I am so glad to have been able to participate in it.

I hope that you are managing to unwind a bit and find some moments of grace –

With love



Elize, thank you again for the conference. It took me to places in my heart that I did not anticipate – it is indeed challenging and enriching at the same time when one’s own stories commune and resonate with the stories of others and others’ work. Clint


Liewe Elize,

Ek dink die konferensie was ‘n groot sukses. Baie geluk! Die sukses is nie toevallig nie maar agv die manier waarop jy die hele proses sensitief ‘bestuur’ het (sonder om ‘n ‘control-freak’ te wees) en in die proses ‘community’ en ‘connection’ op soveel verskillende vlakke moontlik maak. Ek dink aan die quote van Paulo Frere met die strekking dat ‘community’ nie iets is wat vanself gebeur nie – maar dat dit heeltyd ‘n soort toewyding en aktiewe soeke behels (dis as ek nou vir David Denborough reg verstaan het..)

Ek was geraak deur jou hantering van die heel laaste sessie (met die vra van woorde vanuit die gehoor). Daar was by jou ‘n ‘grace’ (beide genade en ‘n soort grasie) – jammer, ek weet nie hoe om dit te verduidelik nie, maar dis iets wat beliggaam is en baie sterker is as woorde of teorie. Dit was die ding wat my by die eerste Community Workshop jare terug aangetrek het en dit is daar wanneer ek jou sien terapie doen. Ek dink dit het op ‘n manier iets te make met God.. of ‘n ander dimensie… Jammer as dit nou simpel/onverstaanbaar klink, ek moet nou maar ophou voor ek myself in die verleentheid stel!



Dear Elize and Belinda

Thank you both for all the hard work that went into planning and running an amazing conference!

For me this was the first time I had been to one of the larger Narrative Therapy gatherings and it was wonderful to feel that sense of belonging and a sense of being joined with kindred spirits. This community did not just happen. Elize I want to acknowledge the efforts that you have put into creating and maintaining this community. It is more than just the arranging of groups, workshops that makes this happen it is you doing community that makes this magic happen. Belinda without your friendliness, generosity and warmth this community would not be what it is. So thank you both for being community makers and maintainers.

The conference was such an affirming experience for me. Presenting a paper was such a challenge but also brought to the fore some of the forgotten parts of my identity. I realised that I really enjoy researching, writing and even presenting papers! So the experience of writing the paper was such an invigorating one. The other side of me that was awakened was the activist – I felt this in my presentation – it is a side that I try to silence but have come to realise again that I need to find ways to express this activist side and voice more. Not sure what that will look like yet but watch this space! Thank you for giving me the opportunity to present – it was such a growing experience and one that I will cherish.

So it’s been a long week but an energising and challenging week. Thanks again and I hope that you both get some decent “mercy time” this weekend.




Liefste Elize en Belinda

Die konferensie het so seepglad verloop – soveel so dat mens mislei kon wees en verkeerdelik kon dink dat dit nie baie reelings geverg het nie?! (Wat ‘n kompliment aan julle want ek weet mos nou hoeveel reelings daar in ‘n workshop ingaan – hoeveel te meer nie ‘n (internasionale) konferensie nie!) As ek terugdink onthou ek die “geboorte” van die konferensie na Jill en Gene se workshop. Ek onthou jou eerste gedagtes oor die konferensie Elize, nadat jy deelnemers by Jill en Gene se workshop se behoefte gehoor het dat hulle ook hul werk wil deel. Op daardie stadium was ek vreeslik opgewonde oor die idee van ‘n plaaslike Narratiewe Konferensie, maar terselfdetyd ook heeltemal oorweldig deur die omvang van die “aanmekaarsit” van so ‘n konferensie – en dit sonder ‘n instruction booklet! Jul organisering van die konferensie spreek vir my van professionaliteit, visie, harde werk en deeglike beplanning, maar ook van die goeie span wat julle maak en hoe julle mekaar beautifully komplimenteer.

Belinda, ek kon nie glo dat jy steeds so vriendelik en behulpsaam kon wees te midde van al die drade-bymekaar-moet-hou nie. (As ek angstig raak verloor ek vinnig my pleasing personality!) Jy het nooit jou pleasing personality verloor nie – ten spyte daarvan dat jy al 06h00 in die oggend die padwerke op die R300 moes aandurf. Ek wonder sommer nou oor wat dit se van die waardes wat vir jou kosbaar is?

Die kos was heerlik – te heerlik eintlik – want dit voel of my klere bietjie stywer aan my klou?! Die venue kon nie beter wees nie. Ek het gehou van die “rotasie” van kamers soos ek die presentations wat my belangstelling geprikkel het of my spesifieke behoeftes aangespreek het, gaan opsoek het. (Hulle se as ‘n mens boring is gaan jy nooit kan verwag dat jou hond enigiets sal leer nie… Julle was nie boring nie! :o) Die verskillende venues het eentonigheid verban. Die tegnologie (wat ‘n onvoorspelbare iets!) het onvoorspelbaar geen probleme opgelewer nie. Ek het gevind dat die presentations wat ek bygewoon het baie “lojaal”/true was aan Narratiewe Terapie. Omdat dit uit ons konteks gebore is, was dit vir my so relevant en prakties toepaslik.

Die “deel-jou-woord” refleksie ritueel ter aflsuiting van die konferensie was vir my so waardevol Elize – waardevol want sedert dag 1 reeds was daar spesifieke woorde wat oor en oor binne my ge-eggo het. Woorde soos belonging, community, acceptance, inspiration, intellectual stimulation, renewed motivation en excitement! Uit hierdie “woordslaai” was belonging die een wat my seker die meeste emosioneel geraak het. In ‘n situasie waar ek myself huidiglik meestal op die sidelines bevind en waar exclusion voorkeur bo inclusion geniet en waar magteloosheid my voice kom steel (totdat daar net ‘n silent scream oorbly o), was die ervaring van belonging soos ‘n home-coming – ‘n “sagte, veilige plek”. Ek wou heeltyd juig daaroor! Om tussen ‘n community van mense te wees wat baie soos ek dink, wat baie soos ek value was healing. ‘n Aanmekaar-gelapte hart wat sy pad uit Scottsville Kimberley toe gevind het, is vir my simbolies van hierdie belonging.

Met die grootste waardering – baie baie dankie! Julle bydrae is so kosbaar, waardevol en ‘n ongelooflike blessing.

Tonne liefde



Liewe Elize

Vir die afgelope 2 weke loop ek rond met van die indrukke van die konferensie aan die een kant en die besef van jou stukrag om dit alles moontlik te maak, aan die anderkant. Eintlik is dit seker maar een bewussyn van mense se omgee en die omsit daarvan in landskappe van hoop.

Dis vir my goed om deel te h&ecirc aan jou viering van 10 jaar van toegewyde uitreik en bemagtiging van soveel ander om elkeen in haar eie besondere ruimte vlerke van hoop te help oopvou, veral in gemeenskappe van swaarkry. Vandat jou druppel neergeplons het, het die rimpelings net uitgekring, en weer uitgekring. Baie dankie vir wat ekself by jou leer van menswees voor God.

Wees verseker dat al die baie harde werk wat jy en Belinda moes insteek, verreikende golwe maak.

Lief en seen