The Institute of Narrative Therapy Welcomes You to

2024 Conference of Narrative Therapy and Community Work
“Journeys and Hope”


Thursday & Friday July 4th and 5th

With pre-conference workshops on Wednesday July 3rd

Hurry, registration for the Conference closes Saturday June 15th!

We are delighted to announce that Johnella Bird (NewZealand) will be attending our conference next year and will be  presenting a key note (plus a pre-conference workshop) and that David Denborough (Dulwich Centre, Austalia) will make a keynote presentation via Zoom. We also expect plenaries from Sabine Vermeire; Philomene Uwamaliya; Emma Highfield and Michael; Lucy Gahan and Jo Murray; as well as representatives from local and international projects.

There will a free-to-conference-participants pre-conference workshop on reconnecting with narrative ideas, as well as pre-conference workshops by Johnella Bird and Sabine Vermeire.

Click here for details of pre-conference workshops

The conference will mark the 21st anniversary of the International Conference organised by Dulwich Centre in collaboration with the Centre for Narrative Practice that took place in Liverpool in 2003. It also coincides with the 15th anniversary of the founding of INT.

Conference fee will be £199 for fully self-funding delegates and £249 for those paid for by agencies or able to set the cost against tax, and attending the conference enables registration for the pre-conference workshops.

We charge an uplift for delegates from the wealthiest nations and we also offer significant downward adjustments for those from the Global South. We are keen to make sure that nobody who might benefit from the conference is excluded for financial reasons. Contact in**@th****.uk with some details of your situation for more information.

The University is able to offer student accommodation at Crown Place Residences. This is just a few minutes walk from the venue. The link to book overnight accommodation with the University is Narrative Conference – Campus Accommodation | University of Liverpool. Bookings for this accommodation will close on June 5th.

We are now accepting workshop proposals. The closing date for these is March 16 th 2024. Please use our workshop proposal form, which is designed to help shape your thinking and also to help us in selecting workshops. You may prefer to offer a poster presentation. The venue offers small booths equipped with electronic screens to which a laptop can be connected if you prefer this to a traditional poster. If you wish to offer a poster presentation then please summarise what it is you would like to share with conference delegates, give it a title and send it in**@th****.uk

This Conference is for professionals, allied workers and similar, primarily working in the UK in areas such as mental health, physical health, education, social work, social care, and allied fields, whether in state services or the third sector. The conference is intended for those with knowledge of the narrative approach,  or at least some acquaintance  with it, to meet together, share ideas and to develop practices within a like-minded community.

Our priority is to provide a safe space for workers and others to share their ideas and experiences of using a narrative approach in a variety of settings throughout the country.

Please click here to see our ethics statement.

We are informed in relation to issues of gender identity and the use of preferred pronouns by a booklet created by Dulwich Centre, Adelaide, Australia. They have kindly given us permission to use this, click here to access a copy.

We look forward to seeing you in Liverpool in 2024 for what is sure to be a stimulating and exciting occasion.  Mark the dates in your diary now!

Click here for Conference Registration Form
Click here for Workshop Proposal Form
Click here to book accommodation with the University – 
Narrative Conference – Campus Accommodation | University of Liverpool

The Conference Collective
(Mariangels Ferrer, Suzy MacKechnie, Emma Highfield, Donna Coleman, Anita Franklin and Hugh Fox)

Pre-Conference Workshops, Liverpool, July 3rd 2024



Changing Stories: Changing Lives

Full day

Cost £130 (agency funded); £104 (self-funded)

Throughout this day-long workshop you will be introduced to recent developments in Johnella’s clinical and super-vision practice. This workshop will highlight the Relational Narrative frame and therapeutic processes Johnella developed to ‘disturb’ narratives that produce suffering. This disturbance produces a ‘crack in the truth’ status of limiting persecutory stories.  Hope emerges through this crack and this hope subsequently provides the impetus for people to participate in the, sometimes, painful process of discovery and change. 

Johnella will highlight, discuss, and provide practical examples for the following:

  • An introduction to the Relational Narrative Frame.
  • An exploration of the inter-related story of mind. 
  • The discovery of the kind of story-bridge that allows people to safely traverse the space generated by silence, secrecy, contradictions and generalisations.
  • Working with experiential echoes from the past.
  • A focus on change. 

Constructing the relational requires a radical act of re-imagining 

The discovery process Johnella uses produces a portal into the relational environment within which we are all immersed.  This portal enables people to notice and then re-search the ongoing interaction between the environment or context and emerging experiences, sensations, thoughts and feelings.  Through this process people find the heart and mind space to radically re-imagine the past, present and future.

Johnella Bird is a highly regarded family therapist, supervisor, and teacher living in Aotearoa, New Zealand. In 1988 she co-founded the Family Therapy Centre in Auckland and for the last 25 years she has acted as a consultant and workshop presenter through-out Australasia, Europe, Canada and the U.S.A.

Throughout her 40 years of practice-based clinical observation, Johnella has sought to answer these fundamental questions:

  • What causes human suffering?
  • What are the contextual conditions producing and re-producing suffering?
  • How can professional groups notice and resist the often subtle invitations to participate in this suffering?
  • What creates and supports change?

The Relational Narrative Dialogical approach is Johnella’s current response to these questions. Using the R.N.D. approach allows all participants in therapeutic and super-vision conversations to embark on a uniquely personal collaborative discovery process. Through this discovery process participants experience an opening in the closed circuit stories producing and reproducing experiences of shame, blame, guilt and fear. This opening illuminates the contextual environment shaping these experiences whilst positioning people to notice forgotten or dismissed resources, capacities, agency and strengths.

The interactional discovery process used in the R.N.D. approach enhances the capacity to navigate complex power differentials while producing life-changing experiences of hope, trust, respect, compassion, safety and connection. Johnella’s plenary and workshops will focus on introducing participants to the R.N.D. approach. She will draw on the obstacles and discoveries she has recently made through conversations with people learning this approach.



Re-dis-covering a sense of coherence and continuity in the context of trauma and painful life histories

Playful Collaborations with Children, Families and Networks

Half day

Cost £70 (agency funded); £56 (self-funded)

In contexts of trauma or painful histories during childhood, the trauma tentacles sometimes reach far. Not only the person themselves are affected but also the many relationships and even the community they belong to. These children, adolescents and adults often have fragmented, incoherent stories about their lives, their relationships, themselves and others. 

During the workshop, we leave the beaten tracks and reach out to playful possibilities of speaking and doing to explore and unravel the problems and obstacles in their lives and relationships. Step by step, we weave a kaleidoscope of stories and meanings through the larger fabric of life, and the painful experiences are given a place in the multitude of relationships and contexts of their lives. We re(dis)cover a sense of coherence and continuity. In co-creating timelines of the past or future and doing life review interviews, we choose serious playfulness and playful seriousness.  

During the workshop we develop different ways to:

  • co-create safe grounds as a platform from which to explore  and unravel difficulties (both in the here and now as in the past)
  • re-connect with ‘teams of support and solidarity’ and  facilitating of networks of resilience
  • re(dis)cover a sense of coherence and continuity (working with timelines and life review interviews)

Please bring your colour pencils. Your cuddly bear and  box full of ‘memories’ are also very welcome!


Sabine Vermeire is member of the staff of the Interactie-Academie VZW, a training and therapy center in Antwerp, Belgium  (www.interactie-academie.be). She works as a trainer, psychotherapist and supervisor in Systemic, Narrative and Collaborative Therapy. Her expertise is on children, youngsters and families in multi-stress contexts (attachment problems, violence, abuse, psychiatric problems and trauma) and working in creative ways when speaking becomes difficult. She is also associated trainer of The Institute of Narrative Therapy and Faculty member of Dulwich Center.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S-EgBNofpu0  (lecture in Brighton)



Basics of Narrative Therapy

Full day

Free to those attending the conference

Are you interested in learning more about narrative therapy? 

This course offers a free introduction to narrative practice.  If you are new to Narrative Therapy or if you are feeling uncertain about the basics, this workshop will provide a good grounding in the main concepts and some of the practices.  It is a good refresher for those who are working with narrative ideas already. It will include relevant concepts and practices for individuals engaged in therapeutic and/or community work contexts.

We are confident that you will find something helpful, regardless of your professional background. Furthermore, it will position you to be able to take part fully in the conference.

Hugh is a director of the Institute of Narrative Therapy where he is on the teaching faculty. He is a member of the Conference Collective and has extensive teaching experience both nationally and  internationally.



Conference Timetable 2024

Day 1 – Thursday July 4th


                                                                                    Registration, tea, coffee. 


Plenary opening and welcome –Anita Franklin                                                                                                                                         Lecture Theatre 2

9.05 – 9.25

Plenary welcome to Liverpool – Iris Benson                                                                                                                                              Lecture Theatre 2

9.25 – 9.45

Plenary welcome to the conference  – Locating the Conference in Context – Pete Bullimore                                                      Lecture Theatre 2

9.45 – 9.50

Business – Transport Boards, 1-2-3 feedback etc – Anita Franklin                                                                                                      Lecture Theatre 2


Keynote:  Johnella Bird –  Changing Stories, Changing Lives                                                                                                                  Lecture Theatre 2


Shelja Sen (Zoom) – Just Girls: conversations on mental health, resistance and social justice                                                    Lecture Theatre 2




Morning workshops

Teaching Room 4

1. Journeying alongside LGBTQIA+ people: An invitation to experience the ˜Rainbow of Life”, a colourful, creative and hopeful collective narrative practice –  James McParland, Jaymie Huckridge, Lizzie Driscoll

Teaching Room 5

2a.  News of difference. Narrative Therapy Practices underpinning a peer support group for women survivors of CSA – Michelle Fraser

Flexible Teaching Space Ground Floor

3a. Walks of life. Developing more diverse identities with parents of children who struggle with severe addiction – Tomas Van Reybrouck & Luc Van den Berge

Teaching Room  6

4a. Impossible 

Conversations & Incredible Journeys
(Working Narratively in Acute, Psychiatric intensive Care and MH Rehab units) –

Dawid Crook & Sophie Redmond

Teaching Room  7

5a. “Good” 

Supervision a recursive process that supports preferred identity conclusions (T/W please be aware content includes reference to a client ending their own life)  Lisa Nicolson

Teaching Room 3

6a. Re-authoring lives of NEET youth with dog companions – Jack T.C. Chiu, Keswick W.H. Chuk, Sharon, S.K. Leung

2b. Narratives of hope: building multi-layered live stories with care-experienced young adults – Veerle Soyez & Anje Claeys

3b.  Boxing the problem –

Kris Hazenbosch

4b. Opening the windows and doors of the residential mental health care – Els Wouters

5b.  In Our Own Words – Witnessing Unheard Voices – Sue Gibbons

6b.   Thriving Through Setbacks: Cultivating Growth with the Garden of Life Metaphor- Dario Garcia




Plenary: Emma Highfield and Michael Oakes – From Hospital to Community, My Journey                                                        Lecture Theatre  2


Afternoon workshops

Teaching Room  1

1. Working with Narratives in Acute Services, Finding Rythms –

Shona Herron 

Teaching Room 4

2. Tree of Life and Suitcase of life in South Africa –  Gillian Hughes &  Nczelo Ncube

Teaching Room  3

3a. Chasing Away Self-Doubt and Discovering New Paths of Hope: Opportunities in Reflexive Narrative Writing –

Andrea Wilson

Teaching Room  6

4a. Creating communities at the organisational level: using collective metaphoric practices to guide away days – Lucy Casdagli & James McParland

Flexible Teaching Space Ground Floor

5a. Multiple avenues sustaining life affected by the war in Ukraine – Aliona Dronic and Ovidiu Gavrilovici

Teaching Room  5

6a. A Narrative approach to Non Violent Resistence – Pete Brown

Teaching Room  7

7a. Journeys into the spaces between dialogue: the therapy relationship, the body and the non-verbal – Fran Lassman

3b. Narrative Bibliotherapy: A Literary Journey to Hope. Using Literature in Narrative Practice – Marianna Casale

4b. Drawing on narrative ideas at the level of service design and delivery; expanding ideas and approaches to staff induction – Hannah Stringer

5b. Narrative Therapy and History Fusion for Community Revival – Heghine Poghosyan, Ani Margaryan

6b. Re-storying parental identity: Raising and supporting my child with ‘special educational needs’ – Rebecca Wright

7b. Narrative Approach and the Third Age – Dimitrios Katsikadelis & Margarita Halvatzi


                                                                           Tea/Coffee and poster presentations –


Plenary:  Philomene Umaliya – Navigating the path to Post Traumatic Growth, 30 years after surviving the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi in Rwanda       Lecture Theatre 2


Plenary:  Plenary:  Lucy Gahan and Jo Murray – Stories of Long Covid: Making visible the invisiblised                                    Lecture Theatre 2


                                                                                                      Break and snack


Plenary:  Mònica Florensa Biescas – The relational identity: my journey towards becoming a Catalonian narrative therapist  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Lecture Theatre 2                                                        


Early evening workshops

Teaching Room 7

1. Edouard Glissant and Narrative Therapy –  Lincoln Simmons

Teaching Room 5

2. When to interrupt? – Ron Finlay

Teaching Room 6

3. Comprovision and Cartography –  Robert Van Hennike & Jeroen Wierstra  

Teaching Room 3

4. Canton pop and displaced Hong Kongers – Ada Kot

Teaching Room 4

5. Solo Theatre – A Brief Introduction to a Process of Self-Transformation –  Mo Cohen

Flexible Teaching Space Ground Floor

6. Enabling 


people to connect 

through outsider 

witnessing and 

recaptured speech 

practices and to 

share their voices 

in influential ways 

with those who 

have access to 

power –  Sara Portnoy & Rosie Hurlstone


Film documentary –  Chelsea’s Blues, with Chelsea Smekens Demedts, Danny Kueppens, Warre Keuppens and Sabine Vermeire                  

Lecture Theatre 2  

Day 2 – Friday July 5th


Registration, tea, coffee


Keynote (Zoom):  David Denborough –  Looking back, looking forwards? Narrative practice adventures                             Lecture Theatre 2


Plenary:  Heghine Poghosyan & Ani Margaryan  – Journey of Revival. Narrative Therapy in Armenia                                Lecture Theatre 2


Short break


Afrah Qassim:   My Savera- My New Beginning                                                                                                                                          Lecture Theatre 2




Morning workshops

Flexible Teaching Space Ground Floor

1.  Team of Life – Building Collective Resilience in UK Schools and Communities– Vicky Eames

Teaching Room 5

2. Doing Hope after Periods of Hardship using Theatre, Documentary Film and other Art Work – Sabine Vermeire

Teaching Room 7

3. Journeying collective narrative approaches to supporting men who have experienced migration related trauma –  Shah Alam, Sayeeda Ali, Abbie Unwin, Maria Qureshi

Teaching Room 6

4.  Holding onto hope in austerity: Sharing the stories of people with learning disabilities to influence positive change in services –  Sandra Baum, Joel Parker, Bethan Ramsey and Rosamund Roach

Teaching Room 4

5. Changing Stories, Changing Lives – Johnella Bird

Teaching Room 3

6. When deceased children become the most trusted ally in responding to grief – Helene Grau




Plenary (Zoom): Vanessa Jackson – Co-creating Narratives of Hope: History, Inquiry and Connection                                  Lecture Theatre 2


Afternoon Workshops

Flexible Teaching Space Ground Floor

1.  A Musical Journey towards Hope: Collective Narrative Song Writing – Glenda Fredman, Sara Portnoy, James MacParland, Mieke Van Daele

Teaching Room 4

2. The Theatre of life – Rachel Marfleet & Dane Duncan

Teaching Room 5

3.  Restoring and re-storying agency through conversations about prescribed medicines – Helena Rose and Rob Edwards

Teaching Room 7

4.  Deconstructing Neuronormative Assumptions and Pathology Discourses with Intellectually Disabled Neurodivergent Adults and Their Carers –  Iiris Kleinburg

Teaching Room 6

5.  Traversing changing professional identities – navigating a relationship between clinical psychology and narrative therapy –  Nadia Somers, Hannah Stringer, Fran Lassman

Teaching Room 3

6. Leaps out of Plato’s cave: what can Plato’s writings offer to contemporary narrative therapy? -Lindsey Hampson




Keynote:  Sabine Vermeire – Unravelling challenges of our time and weaving networks of resilience. Playful collaborations with children, families and networks                                                                                                                                                                         Lecture Theatre 2


Closing and thanks                                                                                                                                                                                              Lecture Theatre 2


Collective Closing Ceremony                                                                                                                                                                            Lecture Theatre 2


                                                                                                  Conference ends

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