Posts Tagged narrative
A paper recently published in the International Journal for Educational and Vocational Guidance explains an approach to narrative-based careers counselling originating from a systems theory framework through ‘three levels of story crafting questions’.
A few years ago I went to see Our House the musical based on the songs of Madness. The music was good. The choreography was good too. But what I really liked was the story, which was quite imaginative for a jukebox musical.
It tells the story of Joe Casey, who does something stupid to impress a girl and then faces a choice: stay and risk getting arrested or run away. At this point the the storyline splits in two, following the consequences of these options and the different versions of Joe that emerge as a result.
The idea of exploring alternative versions of ourselves and finding out what we could have become if we had made different choices is very appealing in fiction. Sliding Doors, It’s a Wonderful Life, Melinda and Melinda and many others.
I recently came across a paper which nicely mashes up two of my favourite themes: counterfactual thinking and identity development into the concept of alternative selves. It explores the impact of these alternative selves on our sense of identity.
Below is an article I wrote for the Journal of the National Institute for Careers Education and Counselling. In it I try to bring together a whole range of narrative approaches to the task of reviewing your practice as a career practitioner. Some of the theories and models here are ones I have already blogged about, but I in this paper I talk about how you apply them to yourself.
(You have to scroll down to page 5 of the document to get to my article.)
I would welcome any comments or questions about the article.
Which techniques appeal to you?
What other techniques do you use in your reflective practice?
A couple of weeks ago I ran a workshop for wonderful bunch of university careers advisers in Dublin. I’m still not sure that we settled on a title for the workshop but the basic idea was to apply new and interesting models and theories to give a fresh perspective on careers guidance practice.
I think the original invitation was something like: ‘Can you run a workshop based on your blog?’ I offered them a menu of possible topics…and they said yes to most of them. So I ended up stitching together a patchwork of themes such as employability, career identity, dealing with uncertainty, motivations and techniques for reflective practice.
Quite a bit of what I included was stuff I’m still working through and finding a place for, so we had fun experimenting together and the workshop was a learning process for me too.
One of the things I decided to throw into the mix was something on narratives. I based it around an article by Robert Pryor and Jim Bright (2008) on archetypal narratives in careers work. They, in turn, based their article on a book called The Seven Basic Plots by Christopher Booker (2004).
Think about a recent job change that you made by your own initiative (rather than by force of circumstance, such as redundancy).
Why did you change? Had you got so fed up with your previous job that you had to move to preserve your sanity? Or were you tempted away by the opportunities on offer in the new job?
What about changing your mobile phone company, utilities, mortgage deal or internet service provider? Do you switch when you get fed up or do you constantly look for better deals?
What motivates you at work and why is it important to you? When you’re thinking about a job move, do you make a list of what you want or a list of what you don’t want?
When you make a list of pros and cons, which column tends to be most influential in making your mind up about something?
This issue of whether you are moving towards something or moving away from something has been a recurring theme in things I have been reading and in discussions I have been having over the last couple of weeks.
Over on Careers Debate we are having an interesting discussion about narrative approaches to career coaching/counselling.
Coincidentally, I’ve just finished reading a fascinating book which looks at how we reconstruct our memories and perceptions in order to keep them consistent with our self image.
In Mistakes Were Made (but not by me), Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson explore the various ways in which we delude ourselves in order to maintain a favoured self-perception. They discuss how this desire to avoid cognitive dissonance leads to extremes of self-justification in all areas of life. They provide examples from the realms of politics (obviously!), international relations, law enforcement, psychology, alien abductions, scientific research and marriage guidance.
It is an interesting book, if somewhat depressing. Personally, I think it should be compulsory reading for any politician or business leader. There is enough thought-provoking material in here to sustain several heated discussions. However, one particular set of research studies caught my attention because of their potential link to narrative work with individuals.
Now that it’s April and work has tipped in favour of “thinking” on the doing/thinking axis, I thought I would get back to my interest in words.
I’ve been reading Reid and West’s (2011) article on narrative in career guidance, and their argument that narrative is underused as a guidance tool.
The short version of this blog post is: I disagree. Isn’t career decision-making simply the hunt for a theme in the complex narrative of the client’s life?
Now for the long version.