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The Institute of Narrative Therapy’s first
Conference of Narrative Therapy and Community Work


Download the Conference Programme


Thursday/Friday 29th & 30th June 2017
Brighton, UK

Pre-conference workshops on Wednesday June 28th


Keynote presentations:
Sarah Walther - Politicised Practice and Addressing Social Inequity
Sabine Vermeire - Working with Young People who have Experienced Trauma

Also:  Refugees Share their Experience of Contributing to UK Society


We are excited to present two days of workshops and keynotes with one day of pre-conference workshops.

Topics ddressed will include working with children and adolescents,
dementia, learning disabilities, working in the community, collective practices in schools, with foster carers, care leavers, teams and communities, youth peer workers in Mental Health, gender identity issues, being non-British in the UK, multi-generational sexual abuse,
community radio in prison, using theatre practices in conflict transformation and reconciliation, Just Therapy, post colonial thinking and accountability, supervision with non-narrativists, narrative practice and embodiment.

Although our intention has been to provide a showcase for narrative practice in the UK, we are pleased to say that we will also have presenters from Belgium, the United States, Russia, Australia and Hungary. 

This is sure to be an invigorating and refreshing experience where you can immerse yourself in rigorous narrative practice, hear about new developments and also enjoy meeting old friends and making new ones!

Brighton is a seaside town with a proud history of activism. Home to the UK's only Green Member of Parliament and an acclaimed Gay Pride celebration, it's also a popular holiday destination. Visitors are drawn to the beaches and seafront, the winding lanes around the town centre, and the Royal Pavilion - a breathtaking monument to 19th century exuberance.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Download the Registration Form

Download the Conference Programme


About the conference

Registration opens on November 1st

Cost £175 + VAT (includes lunches and refreshments)

Closing date for workshop proposals:  February 17th 2017.

Click here for Registration Form.

Pre-conference workshops

There will be three day long pre-conference workshops on Wednesday June 28th:

1. On the road again: Playful conversations with children, youngsters and families who experienced trauma with Sabine Vermeire.  Click here for details.

2. Relational and contextual therapy - honouring and expanding the narrative therapy approach with Sarah Walther.  Details available soon.

3. Introduction to Narrative Therapy – FREE to those attending the 2-day conference. Suitable for those who have little knowledge of Narrative Therapy or who would like to brush up on basics prior to the conference.

Workshops cost £95 + VAT.  The Introduction to Narrative Therapy is FREE to those attending the two days of the conference.  Lunch is not included.

Click here for Registration Form.


Details of Pre-conference workshops

On the road again

Playful conversations with children, youngsters and families who experienced trauma.
Presenter: Sabine Vermeire

Working with trauma an important guideline comes from Alan Jenkins: ‘Do not reproduce the violence that already has been done’. This is easier said than done.  Often children and their families do not want to speak in detail or not at all about their traumatic experiences. Pitfalls such as ‘forcing them to speak’, ‘analysing their problems’,  ‘giving advice’ and ‘silencing the voices of trauma’ are always just around the corner.
In this workshop I offer alternative and playful ways to talk about trauma. Conversations that reconnect children and their families with what is valuable in their life and with who matters to them. In these conversations we deconstruct some dominant discourses about children, parents and trauma and try to get ‘on the road again’.
On this journey we will take the following paths:

  • We will create safe territories of identity and  a community of support by inviting the cuddles, Santa Claus, Beyoncé and Granny as co-therapists
  • We will unravel the stories of alienation and stigmatisation with interviews and questionnaires. (Please fill in the extra-large ‘worst fear’ questionnaire! And send it to a 9 year old boy!)
  • We will resist the pressure of gathering information, especially in the first session. We try to  (re-)connect the child and his family from the start with the future professionals and let those professionals engage as outsider witnesses.
  • We will explore indirect ways to talk about traumatic experiences  and become a philosopher, a princess or Messi.
  • We will have conversations about feelings or convictions of guilt and shame with children as well as with parents.
  • We will be on the outlook for small acts of resistance, protest, staying ahead,… and for invisible answers, local knowledge and skills.
  • We will stay aware of the existence of (self-)destructive behaviour (self-mutilation, anorexia, temper tantrums, nightmares, and so on) and  offer ways of exploring different meanings without inviting the behaviour into the room.
  • We will try to re-link stories of the past, present and future in order to find lines of flight by drawing timelines of a possible future or by arranging biographical interviews.
  • We will help parents and their children to ‘reconnect instead of getting locked up in polarisations as for example ‘victims vs. offenders’.
The roads are illustrated with footage, letters and documents.

About Sabine

Sabine is a member of the staff at the Interactie-Academie VZW, a training and therapy center in Antwerp, Belgium  (
She works as a trainer, psychotherapist and supervisor in Systemic, Narrative and Collaborative Therapy at this institute. Her expertise is on children, youngsters and families in difficult contexts (attachment problems, violence, abuse, psychiatric problems and trauma) and working in creative ways when speaking becomes difficult. Talking with children and families without reproducing abuse or violence in the conversation and still creating possibilities to develop new stories is a challenge that brought her the previous years on a quest finding ways of “talking off the beaten track”.
 She has written several articles and given workshops and lectures on these subjects. In 2015 she was chairwoman of the organization of the Narrative Conference of the Lowlands (Belgium and The Netherlands).


Relational and Contextual Therapy

Sarah Walther is a narrative therapy practitioner and teacher who has developed a number of additional therapeutic practices as a response to the everyday practice dilemmas she experiences in her work.  These practices represent a shift and expansion from traditional narrative therapy and Sarah now describes her practice as Relational and Contextual Therapy (RCT).

This politicised approach to therapy re-emphasises the original intention of narrative therapy as a response to power and is a direct response to the evidence base which consistently names socio economic inequity as the most significant factor in mental health. It is an interdisciplinary approach drawing from fields such as neuroscience, philosophy, political thinking and anthropology to give a clear theoretical basis to address the complex interplay between the effects of micro (physical) and macro (socio economic) contexts on people’s lives.

Whilst Sarah has taught and published aspects of this therapeutic approach previously (e.g. The Context and Discourse map and the Landscape of Affect in relation to trauma), this is the first time she has presented the orientation, principles and practices of Relational and Contextual Therapy as a congruent and distinct approach.

This workshop will include examples and descriptions of:

  • Embodied and embedded models of cognition and action
  • Landscape of affect as an integrated part of practice
  • Brain-bows
  • Mattering maps
  • Narr-anthropology as an active therapeutic position
  • Active responses to social inequity which go beyond empowerment and representation
  • Explicit consideration and response to evidence base issues

About Sarah

Sarah Walther is employed as a Narrative Therapist in a public Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service in East Lancashire, UK, where she meets with children, young people and those people involved in their lives who are experiencing a range of worries including: the effects of trauma; eating distress; thoughts and actions related to self harm and suicide; chronic physical health concerns; etc.

She has written a number of papers and book chapters in relation to narrative practice and she presented a keynote on how practitioners can respond to the effects of social inequity at the 2nd European Conference of Narrative Therapy in Copenhagen.

Sarah often meets with people in their homes or local community settings and is always struck by how the seemingly ordinary events of life offer opportunities to hear about the most extra-ordinary accounts of hopes, dreams and what it is that people hold as precious in their lives.  These experiences have led Sarah to an appreciation of the dynamic way in which non-structuralist ideas inform her practice in the community within which she works, and how the community in which she works in turn shapes developments in her practice. 

Click here for the Registration Form.

All conference details are provisional








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