Contemporary Family Therapy

, Volume 23, Issue 2, pp 199–220 | Cite as

Honoring and Privileging Personal Experience and Knowledge: Ideas for a Narrative Therapy Approach to the Training and Supervision of New Therapists

  • Thomas D. Carlson
  • Martin J. Erickson


This article discusses an approach for the training and supervision of new therapists built around social constructionist and poststructuralist ideas from a narrative therapy perspective. We briefly discuss some of the pitfalls of current training/supervision in marriage and family therapy (MFT) that are deficit based and/or that disproportionately grant privilege to expert knowledge. We articulate this emerging training approach which utilizes the rite of passage metaphor, centers relationalism, and incorporates the honoring and privileging of new therapists' lived experience, knowledges, skills, talents, ideas, morals, personal ethics, values, beliefs. Concrete practices of experience privileging, re-membering, and creating communities of concern are detailed, and illustrative examples from our supervision work are given.

training supervision narrative therapy self-of-the therapist ethics 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Biever, J., & Gardner, G. (1995). The use of reflecting teams in social constructionist training. Journal of Systemic Therapies, 14, 47–56.Google Scholar
  2. Bobele, M., Gardner, G., & Biever, J. (1995). Supervision as social construction. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 10, 151–156.Google Scholar
  3. Bruner, E. M. (1986). Ethnography as narrative. In V. W. Turner & E. M. Bruner (Eds.), The anthropology of experience (pp. 139–155). Chicago: University of Illinois Press.Google Scholar
  4. Bruner, J. (1986). Actual minds/possible worlds. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Bruner, J. (1991). The narrative construction of reality. Critical Inquiry, 18, 1–21.Google Scholar
  6. Buber, M. (1970). I and thou. (Translation by Walter Kaufmann). New York: Scribner's Sons.Google Scholar
  7. Carlson, T. D., & Erickson, M. J. (1999). Re-capturing the person in the therapist: An exploration of personal values, commitments, and beliefs. Contemporary Family Therapy, 21, 57–76.Google Scholar
  8. Carlson, T. D., & Erickson, M. J. (2000). Re-authoring spiritual narratives: God in person's relational identity stories. Journal of Systemic Therapies, 19(2), 65–83.Google Scholar
  9. Doherty, W. (1991). Family therapy goes postmodern. Family Therapy Networker, 15, 36–42.Google Scholar
  10. Edwards, T. M., & Keller, J. F. (1995). Partnership discourse in marriage and family therapy supervision: A heterarchical alternative. The Clinical Supervisor, 13(2), 141–153.Google Scholar
  11. Epston, D., & White, M. (1992). Experience, contradiction, narrative & imagination: Selected papers of David Epston and Michael White, 1989–1991. Adelaide, South Australia: Dulwich Centre Publications.Google Scholar
  12. Freedman, J., & Combs, G. (1996). Narrative therapy: The social construction of preferred realities. New York: Norton.Google Scholar
  13. Foucault, M. (1980). Power/knowledge: Selected interviews and other writings. New York: Pantheon Books.Google Scholar
  14. Geertz, C. (1983). Local knowledge: Further essays in interpretive anthropology. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  15. Gergen, K. J. (1991). The saturated self: Dilemmas of identity in contemporary life. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  16. Gergen, K. J. (1994). Reality and relationships: Soundings in social construction. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  17. Harre, R. (1983). Personal being: A theory for individual psychology. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  18. Lee, R. E., & Emerson, S. (Eds.). (1999). The eclectic trainer. Galena, IL and Iowa City, IA: Geist and RussellGoogle Scholar
  19. Madigan, S. P., & Epston, D. (1995). From “spy-chiatric gaze” to communities of concern: From professional monologue to dialogue. In S. Friedman (Ed.), The reflecting team in action: Collaborative practice in family therapy (pp. 257–276). New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
  20. Marrs, R., Wozny, D., Erickson, M., & Carlson, T. (November 2000). Master students' personal experiences of their MFT training at accredited MS programs: A qualitative study. National Council on Family Relations annual conference, Minneapolis.Google Scholar
  21. Mills, S. D., & Sprenkle, D. H. (1995). Family therapy in the postmodern era. Family Relations, 44, 368–376.Google Scholar
  22. Myerhoff, B. (1982). Life history among the elderly: Performance, visibility and remembering. In J. Ruby (Ed.), A crack in the mirror: Reflexive perspectives in anthropology (pp. 133–153). Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.Google Scholar
  23. Noddings, N. (1984). Caring: A feminine approach to ethics & moral education. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  24. Prest, L., Darden, E., & Keller, J. (1990). “The fly on the wall” reflecting team supervision. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 16, 265–273.Google Scholar
  25. Thomas, F. (1994). Solution-oriented supervision: The coaxing of expertise. The Family Journal: Counseling and Therapy for Couples and Families, 2, 11–18.Google Scholar
  26. Todd, T. C., & Storm, C. L. (1999). The complete systemic supervisor: Context, philosophy, and pragmatics. Needham Heights, MA: Allyn and Bacon.Google Scholar
  27. Turner, V. W. (1986). Dewey, Dilthey, and drama: An essay in the anthropology of experience. In V. W. Turner & E. M. Bruner (Eds.), The anthropology of experience (pp. 33–44). Chicago: University of Illinois Press.Google Scholar
  28. Wetchler, J. L. (1990). Solution-focused supervision. Family Therapy, 17, 129–138.Google Scholar
  29. White, M. (1989/1990). Family therapy training and supervision in a world of experience and narrative. Dulwich Centre Newsletter, Summer, 27–38.Google Scholar
  30. White, M. (1993). Deconstruction and therapy. In S. Gilligan & R. Price (Eds.), Therapeutic conversations (pp. 22–61). New York: Norton.Google Scholar
  31. White, M. (1995). Re-authoring lives: Interviews and essays. Adelaide, South Australia: Dulwich Centre Publications.Google Scholar
  32. White, M. (1997). Narratives of therapists lives. Adelaide, South Australia: Dulwich Centre Publications.Google Scholar
  33. White, M. (2000). Reflections on narrative practice: Essays and interviews. Adelaide, South Australia: Dulwich Centre Publications.Google Scholar
  34. White, M. & Epston, D. (1990). Narrative means to therapeutic ends. New York: Norton.Google Scholar
  35. Young, J., Perlesz, A, Patterson, R., & O'Hanlon, B. (1989). The reflecting team process in training. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Family Therapy, 10, 69–74.Google Scholar
  36. Zimmerman, J. L., & Dickerson, V. C. (1996). If problems talked: Narrative therapy in action. New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press, Inc. 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas D. Carlson
    • 1
  • Martin J. Erickson
    • 2
  1. 1.Marriage and Family Therapy Program, Child Development and Family Science DepartmentNorth Dakota State UniversityFargo
  2. 2.Marriage and Family Therapy Program atIowa State University, Human Development and Family Studies DepartmentAmes

Personalised recommendations