Acts of Resistance, Acts of Reclaiming: Using Narrative Therapy when Working with People who have been Subjected to Sexual Assault

This course has no current classes. Please the waiting list.


Hearing stories of sexual assault can be challenging, particularly when this is regularly part of the work. Workers may get weighed down by the stories, and may hold worries about re­traumatising clients during the counselling, health check or court preparation process. While primarily focusing on counselling, this workshop will support workers in a variety of fields when responding to the impact of sexual assault. It draws on the theory and practices of Narrative Therapy to support clients to tell their stories in strengthening rather than re­traumatising ways. The idea that people always respond to trauma, even if it is not recognised by themselves or professionals, will be discussed. This workshop also offers participants an exploration of the political context of mental health issues as an outcome of sexual assault or multiple, ongoing abuses.

Theoretical input will be supported through examples from the work of the presenter, focusing on the context of working with people who have been subjected to sexual assault or multiple, ongoing abuses. There will be opportunities for participants to engage in experiential exercises.

Participants will leave with new ideas, and a sense of hope and possibility for this challenging work.

Participants will:

  • Have a clearer understanding of the impact of sexual assault on the identity formation of adults and children
  • Explore mental health issues as 'expressions of distress'
  • Become more comfortable in respectfully hearing stories of sexual assault
  • Have ideas of how to support clients in the telling of their stories, to reduce the risk of re­-traumatisation
  • Learn to collaboratively identify acts of resistance to assault
  • Learn to collaboratively identify acts of reclaiming of life from the ongoing effects of sexual assault
  • Examine and begin to deconstruct some dominant ideas in society which may impact people’s identity and get in the way of accessing support after a sexual assault
  • Move from a focus on individual ‘pathology’ to a political understanding of gendered violence
  • Consider ways workers can be sustained when responding to issues of sexual assault and injustice

Who should attend?

Workers who provide support to people who have been subjected to sexual assault – relevant to those working with adults and children.