Skip navigation

Center for Professional Development

Narrative Therapy Conference event banner

Innovations in Narrative Therapy

With Co-Founder David Epston

Friday, September 23 - Saturday, September 24, 2016
University of Denver
Sturm Hall
2000 East Asbury Avenue, Denver, CO 80208

Time: 8:30 A.M. to 4:00 P.M.

Professionals: $250
DU affiliates (Faculty, Staff and Alumni): $225
Students (must provide valid student ID): $100

Lunch is not included.
This conference offers 10.5 hours of continuing education (CE). 

Click HERE for the event program

Read about the speakers! 

Course Description 

The Center for Professional Development in collaboration with the International Disaster Psychology Program's Trauma and Disaster Recovery Clinic at the University of Denver are excited to offer a conference "Innovations in Narrative Therapy" presenting exciting developments in a therapeutic approach engaging individuals and communities globally. David Epston (Auckland, New Zealand), a co-founder of Narrative therapy in partnership with Michael White, will be joined by Travis Heath (Metropolitan State University of Denver and marcela polanco(Phd program in specializing with Spanish speaking populations, Our Lady of the Lake University, San Antonio, Texas) in inviting the audience to explore innovative practices and applications of this approach to psychotherapy; an approach involving the listening for and telling of stories, utilizing language and politics to shape narratives of hope and change. Read more about the experts here.

David, Travis and marcela will work alongside conference participants to inspire curiosity, creativity, and skill-development through participatory workshops focused on the latest innovations in narrative therapy practice. These novel and culturally-informed approaches broaden and deepen the mental health professional's abilities to approach therapeutic practice in fresh and effective ways. 

Speakers' Work:

Click to View PDFs of the Speakers' Articles and Speeches
  • Part I and Part II of The Spitting Truth from My Soul: A Case Story of Rapping, Probation, and the Narrative Practices written by Travis Heath and Paulo Arroyo
  • Part I, Part II, and Part III of Insider Witnessing Practice: A Preliminary Discussion written by Tom Stone Carlson, David Epston, Emily Corturillo, Ana Huerta Lopez, Maria Guadalupe Lopez, Sara Raap, Ashley Walsdorf, Miranda Brown, and Chelsea Pace
  • Joe, Cathy, and Katie written by David Epston
  • AMMFT Plenary Address by David Epston


Workshop 1: Narrative Family and Community Therapy: Another Version?

Insider Witness Practices, developed in partnership by narrative therapy co-founder David Epston and North Dakota State University professor Tom Carlson, represents a dramatic re-imagination of narrative therapy practice through the use of performance. In this one-session practice, clients become witnesses to a hope-biased portrayal of their lives as performed by their therapist. This performance is intended to situate the significant events of clients' lives within rich story lines that serve as a revelation of their moral character as persons. As a result, clients become both an insider and outsider to their own lived experiences and are afforded the unusual opportunity to experience themselves as if they were an 'other.' Video demonstrations will illustrate the practice.

Learning Objectives: 

  1. Introduction to a new version of narrative family therapy and community work (see Marsten, Epston and Markham, 2016, Narrative Therapy in Wonderland: Connecting with Children's Imaginative Know-how, New York; WW Norton);
  2. Demonstrate 'wonderfulness inquiries' as the means to 'meet' families as well as the Problems that concern them;
  3. Demonstrate how to 'translate' a 'wonderfulness' to any number of ways of engaging a young person and his/her family with a Problem.
Workshop 2: Case Stories as Narrative Pedagogy

Narrative case stories (also referred to as exemplary tales) represent an approach to teaching narrative practice that privileges a ‘living telling’ of the practice that is free of theoretical jargon so that participants can ‘see’ and ‘feel’ the intentionality of the therapist/storyteller and how it guides their practice. Rather than lecture at participants about narrative ideas it attempts to show what happens in a therapeutic conversation from one moment to the next. This portion of the workshop will follow a case story approach to teaching narrative practice that is intended to spark the imagination and creativity of the participant in hopes that they can learn how to be mappers (rather than mere map followers) of the spirit and artistry of narrative practice.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Participants will develop a basic understanding of the practice and creation of narrative questions and why questions are important in narrative therapy.
  2. Participants will become familiar with the concept of case stories as maps for practice.
  3. Participants will be able to identify how and why narrative case stories emphasize people acting according to their moral character.
Workshop 3: Stories of Rapping, Probation, and the Narrative Practices

Young people who become entangled in the criminal justice system are too often told in the neoliberal tradition to "take responsibility" for their own actions despite the many complicated systems at work in such a relationship. This portion of the workshop examines counter-individualist narrative approaches to working with young persons and demonstrates how such work has been done through the vehicle of hip-hop culture and rap music. The presentation gives voice to a model 'beyond' multiculturalism and inclusion where young people are invited to speak on behalf of their own healing in their own cultural language and medium. Case stories that feature moment-by-moment interaction with young people referred by probation will be used to illustrate the practice.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Participants will develop a basic understanding of a "counter-individualist" stance and how it can manifest in narrative practice.
  2. Participants will become familiar with the term "dominant discourse" and begin to understand how such discourses can be harmful and also ways they can be challenged through the practice of narrative questions.
  3. Participants will be able to understand the difference between including a client in the process of therapy and inviting them to speak on behalf of their own healing in their own cultural language.
Workshop 4: Training in Narrative Therapy Across the Border: A Fair Trade of Knowledges

As a Colombian, mestiza immigrant in the U.S., marcela initiated her training in narrative therapy at a U.S. family therapy program in the State of Florida, and later at the Dulwich Centre in Adelaide, Australia. During her training she began discerning the complexities of learning about a practice that, while speaking directly to her Colombian heart, was so clearly foreign to her given its Australasian origins. marcela begun experimenting with the translation of its practices into her Colombian culture. She started with considerations of acculturation, followed by decolonization and reimagination of narrative therapy when it crossed over the borderlines of her Colombian culture. When considering the history of her country in regards to the disparity of exchange of knowledges between local and foreign traditions, she considered fair-trade as an apt framework to engage with narrative therapy while maintaining cultural integrity. marcela will tell of her experiences training as a narrative therapist from a fair trade perspective. She will share her work, practicing Australasian narrative from her Colombian and Latin American perspectives, which have led her to reimagine its practices with the flavor of her land. She will place particular emphasis on the contributions of the literary genre of magical realism as a Colombian framework from where to understand storytelling traditions, cultural representations of suffering and imaginative real realities. While she will speak from her particular contexts, she hopes to invite participants to engage in their own reimagination of narrative therapy when considering the integrity of their own local cultures.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Participants will be able to discern considerations of cultural integrity within the context of training in narrative therapy.
  2. Participants will be able to identify aspects related to translating narrative therapy into local contexts.
  3. Participants will be able identify and critique aspects related to the translation/reimagination of narrative therapy within a Colombian/Latin American perspective.

For registration and information contact the Center for Professional Development at  or 303-871-4161

This program is approved for 10.5 hours of continuing education. The University of Denver, Graduate School of Professional Psychology (GSPP) is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. GSPP maintains responsibility for this program and its content.