Stories “matter”: Storytelling as community learning within a whole systems approach to recovery

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Leah Karen Salter


We humans, perhaps especially those of us who identify as narrative therapists and systemic practitioners, tell stories all the time, in our everyday talk with family and friends, in dialogue with colleagues, in creative endeavour, in our practices, in talking about our practices, in research contexts and beyond. It is an important part of how we make sense of ourselves and our cultural contexts. Storytelling can also be conceptualised as a resource for transformation and as a mechanism for systems thinking to create “social change” (David Stroh 2015).


This paper offers an overview of a project that highlights the transformative quality of storytelling in systemic, community practices. Stories, storytellers and witnesses are framed as active agents.

In particular this paper reviews a newly developed model of community learning through storytelling in Bridgend, South Wales, where the author is based. In creating a “learning community” around people and places in this community- particularly those adversely impacted by the recent pandemic- the paper draws on storytelling practices (Dodd 2019; Heinemeyer 2019; Salter and Newkirk 2019); community learning (Senge 1994; Wenger 1998) and narrative practices (White and Epston 1990; White 1995, 2005, 2006; Denborough 2006, 2008, 2014 for example) to show a holistic model for social action. This is set within the context of beginning to remodel social life during and after the first wave of COVID 19 pandemic.

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How to Cite
Salter, L. K. (2020). Stories “matter”: Storytelling as community learning within a whole systems approach to recovery. Murmurations: Journal of Transformative Systemic Practice, 3(1).