The Heart's Narrative is an original contribution by an original thinker. The book has been eagerly awaited in New Zealand, where Johnella Bird has a substantial reputation as an innovative therapist and teacher. Johnella has succeeded in doing what many other practitioners have attempted to do. She has provided a way of thinking about therapy and people orientated work which allows for its complexity, fluidity and dignity. She offers insights and tools which do not impose upon people (clients) a predetermined one-size-fits-all model. Instead, she continually opens up the discussion and shows us new ways to explore people's (clients') lived experience.
This book will help us:
* think more clearly and deeply about a style of talking that facilitates both therapeutic and social change within an environment of connection;
* engage with contradictions and complexities in ways that support us
rather than overwhelm us;
* ask questions that orientate us as explorers of people's lives;
* reflect and expand our practice through creative teaching exercises.
The Heart's Narrative is multi-leveled: It provides us with new ways to work with people. It also offers a critique of existing power arrangements, including how radical ideas may be captured by conservative institutions. Johnella Bird shows us how seemingly elegant and inclusive models can actually act to oppress people (clients). She exposes how language can be used in quite subtle ways to undermine, render invisible, pathologise and oppress. She shows us how we can inadvertently use our power to impose our understandings upon our clients but she also offers questions and strategies to help us reflect upon how we use power and language. So while most of us will find her critique challenging, the book also supports our efforts toward power-sharing and equity.
The following list of chapter headings shows the range of topics discussed in The Heart's Narrative:
Chapter Seven Chapter Eight
Therapeutic Narratives in Action
The Therapeutic Relationship
Building The Therapeutic Relationship
Working with Contradictions
Working with Time
Where There Is A Relationship There Is Gender
Trust and Fear
Disconnection and Desperation
In its tone and feel, The Heart's Narrative challenges the remote 'objective' analytical style by reflecting Bird's passion for real human experience. To read it is to enjoy a rare combination of intellectual rigour and accessible, personal talk. Her many examples, in the form of people's own stories, are powerful, moving and occasionally wrenching.
The Heart's Narrative will be of interest to:
* Counsellors, psychologists, psychotherapists, psychiatrists and social workers who are interested in facilitating individual and social change;
* Anybody who primarily uses talk as a medium for negotiating and promoting understanding;
* Anybody who works with talk as a means to benefit others;
* Anybody concerned with negotiating and understanding existing power arrangements;
* Anybody interested in language and how it can be used to either embed oppression or promote liberation;
* Anybody wishing they had a better 'tool box' of questioning skills in order to open up discussion and deal with complexity;
* Narrative therapy practitioners who are committed to both innovation and the critique of existing models.
"I hope that reading this book will encourage you to appreciate how you will uniquely relate to the ideas and practises presented here. I believe that while it is important that we acknowledge the sources of our ideas and practises, we are also obliged to reinvent these ideas and practises in our work."
--- from the author