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

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
info@theint.co.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

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 info@theint.co.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.

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