Antenarratives in family therapy.




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De Montfort University


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Peer reviewed


Researchers and policymakers have become increasingly aware of the value of talking therapies and service providers are confronted with the need to deliver these cost-effectively. Amongst service providers, social workers are at the front line of rendering these kinds of services to families and people in the community. Yet in the UK theyoften do not have the training or / ., experience to provide interpersonally mediated talking-therapy services to people who specifically need them. This thesis suggests that a therapeutic approach, informed by the narrative and family therapy traditions, might be particularly useful, and its applicability and explores its theoretical development by means of case examples. Narrative therapy is particularly germane to the concerns of social work, in that it takes an ethical stance on people's stories, and addresses issues of oppression and the consequences of being marginalised. There have been few studies exploring the application and outcome of narrative therapy, mainly due to a lack of appropriate developed methodologies. The goal of this study was to develop a methodology that could indicate changes in the stories of families. Boje's (2001) idea of exploring the 'antenarratives' - the speculative precursors to full-fledged narratives - was adopted for this purpose. The present study tried to answer two research questions. These are whether an antenarrative methodology can be used to illustrate changes in the stories of families in order to assess the outcome of narrative family therapy, and whether this methodology can be used to track both grand and micro narratives and the changes that take place in these stories. The study was conducted from a practitioner-researcher perspective, with the researcher applying a model of narrative family therapy with participants from several families. For darity's sake, this thesis restricts itself to a detailed case-study account of the transcripts of a series of sessions with ') two families. A baseline narrative was analysed after the first session and a second base line after the sixth session. After each of the two analyses, changes were suggested to refine th~ approach. The conclusions reached are that the antenarrative approact) helps to track the development and construction of families' stories. Themaps illustrating how different themes deverop and interact in particular were helpful in illustrating both this and the ways in which stories develop rules and strategies to justify their own existence. It was recommended that the methodology be split into three sections depending on the goal of the study. The first part addresses the initial understanding to help sift through large volumes of data, whilst the grand and micro narratives helping to understand what is happening to stories and why this takes place. The latter part, concerned with narrative type, authorship, and comparative questions, is able to show what has changed and how this has occurred. The theoretical contributions made are that stories should not be seen , as two-dimensional and linear, but as multi-dimensional entities in which multiple stories interact with one another. The idea of a 'Tamara' - a play on multiple stages - is helpful in understanding how stories interact with one another and how the point or angle of view will determine the stories we hear and see. It also highlights the idea that families should not be seen as singlestory entities, but as living multiple stories, and formulates the issues so that they can be applied in social work contexts. The concepts of a grand and micro narrative were easily integrated with narrative therapy's idea of developing thick descriptions of people's lives, i and can turn the observer's gaze back upon the professionals to show how social workers police families through the process of providing help, thereby enhancing the profession's reflective capacities.





Research Institute