Murmurations: Journal of Transformative Systemic Practice 2020-07-30T21:07:45+00:00 Dr Gail Simon Open Journal Systems <p>A journal for relationally attuned and systemic social constructionist practitioners and practitioner-researchers with a commitment to social responsibility in community, leadership, therapy, education, organisations, health and social care.</p> Embracing or Enduring on-line therapy : what are we creating? 2020-07-30T21:07:45+00:00 Nigel Smith <p>This article is a personal consideration of the sudden and immediate development of on-line therapy, with some personal thoughts around the expereince for therapists, clients and service providers, within which a tension of 'getting on in a crisis' sits with a growing consideration of ways to save costs.&nbsp;</p> <p>The article explores difent contexts of working, comparing working in clincs and in families homes and where on-line working sits within this.</p> <p>This sudden shift in practice brings many questions to the fore. What is it that we create? Who’s space is it? Are there places that we can go in work ‘on-line’ and other places that we cannot?&nbsp; What are the dilemmas and risks we need to consider in working this way, given that it may be here to stay now?</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Copyright (c) Stories as ‘vibrant matter’ 2020-07-28T15:12:26+00:00 Leah Karen Salter <p>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 <em>“social change” </em>(David Stroh, 2015).</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This paper, offers an overview of a project that highlights the transformative quality of storytelling in systemic, community practices. Stories <em>and</em> storytellers are framed as active agents.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>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 <em>“learning community”</em> around people and places in this community- particularly those adversely impacted by the recent pandemic- the paper draws on storytelling practices; community learning (Senge, 1994; Wenger, 1998) and narrative practices (White and Epston, 1990, White, 1995, 2005, 2006; Denborough, 2006; 2008; 2014 for example) as a holistic model for social action. This is set within the context of beginning to remodel social life during and after the COVID 19 pandemic.</p> Copyright (c) More than ever a relational approach is needed: Social Construction and the global pandemic 2020-07-24T19:00:07+00:00 Celiane Camargo-Borges Sheila McNamee <p>We are living in challenging times, surfacing many reactions, thoughts, visions and beliefs in an attempt to understand and offer ways to cope with the COVID crisis and the recovery of the world. We believe a constructionist stance can help us respond to this moment.&nbsp; Everyday life is uncertain, although we most often act as if it is predictable and dependably redundant.&nbsp; We organize our lives around certainties that lead us to feel that we are in control. The pandemic has pulled the rug from under our feet and uncertainty is now the slogan of our time. However, one “silver lining” of the pandemic might be the way it exposes the unfolding nature of our worlds. To that end, the pandemic helps us embody and thus “know from within” (Shotter, 2010) a constructionist sensibility.&nbsp; This embodiment of social construction takes us far beyond a simple academic understanding. The confluence of the pandemic and learning about social construction can create the opportunity to put ideas into practice and, in so doing, our understanding of constructionist ideas is deepened.</p> <p>From a constructionist perspective, COVID-19 is not separate from us.&nbsp; It is happening through us, in us, between us and because of us. Social construction helps us see the world as an interconnected and complex system in which macro and micro levels, as well as human and non-human entities are constantly creating and re-creating possible realities (Simon &amp; Salter, 2020). Indeed, this highly contagious virus, initially framed as a public health issue,&nbsp; soon revealed its complexity, having also political, social, economic, environmental and relational entanglements. Our attempt to balance the shutdowns (staying at home), for health protection, with the economic need for business to operate is an illustration of how interconnected these systems are. The virus also makes it necessary to balance physical distance with social connection and collective support.</p> <p>&nbsp;Despite the fear and discomfort, the potential for change ignited by this global crisis is substantial. By coming together with a diversity of voices, experiences, and perspectives, new performances can be enacted, new ways to respond and cope can be imagined, and new forms of living can be created – and these are all changes that could possibly be sustained once the pandemic has past. The pandemic therefore is a perfect time for dialogue and innovation. Dialogue and relationality are fundamental pillars in the construction, de-construction and re-construction of knowledge and society (Gergen, 2009a). Change starts with us in our interactions, one interaction at a time. SC invites us to come together and share the challenges we face, co-creating new possibilities for health and connection. Through collective interactions, new meanings and possibilities emerge; we re-invent realities.</p> <p>How can we address this interconnected and complex reality? And how do we ignite change that supports a reconstruction of our world in ways that address the inequities we currently face? What are the social conditions that can ignite new forms of understanding that generate new and resourceful ways of living?&nbsp;</p> Copyright (c) The Liberty of Voices Within Ethical Writing 2020-07-07T16:22:05+00:00 Andreas Breden <p>A lot of the texts being written today is written within frames and discourses that strangles the freedom of the writer and in the next round the freedom of the reader, and texts that could have been easier to read and understand remains inaccessible and hard. They are texts without a soul and are sometimes written on the side of the ethical values of the writer to maintain the frames they are enslaved by. I find that the academic genre is a genre that is characterized by a kind of thinking that maintains the power position of white male in what they themselves think is the best years of their lives. The genre is unnecessarily complicating the writing process on the expense of a more poetic language. Most of the academic and professional texts that I have written that has had a touch of poetic feeling has easily been dismissed as unacademic or unprofessional. In my opinion this leads to a hegemony of power and an understanding of what is a good and right text. This understanding applies to several professional fields such as therapy, research, social work and child protection services. The consequence of this has been that some versions of texts has remained unwritten or written within the strict borders of the certain profession. This has prevented the writer to witness other voices than those of the main discourse to be heard which adds a colonial attitude to the writing process. In the other end it also lays restrictions on the reader and which of their voices of their inner dialogue can be heard. This article is an attempt to expand the way we understand texts, both professional and more creative ones. This understanding will hopefully make it easier for the reader of the article to experiment with other ways of writing. Another main concern of the article is to give focus to the obligation the writer has to witness different voices in the text and hence clearing a way for the use of other or multiple lenses available for the reader. We live in a world constructed of language and histories, and if we can train ourselves to listen to the multiple voices and dialogues by writing and reading texts that are a bit on the side of what is accepted and appreciated by the systems I believe we also can start writing texts that not only are easier, funnier and more enjoyable to read, but we can also witness voices that so far haven’t been heard. This is typically the marginalized voices that have been suppressed by the power hegemony of the male and white supremacy. By attending to the different shades, layers and contrasts in the stories we are witnessing we are pointing our texts towards our understanding of what is a good ethical way of writing and witnessing.</p> Copyright (c) Security as a verb. 2020-06-23T06:57:43+00:00 Szymon Chrzastowski Copyright (c) Pandemic Disease and Systems Theory 2020-06-26T14:08:34+00:00 Stan Amaladas <p>The fundamental problem that we raise and address in this paper is the problem of understanding our relationship with our afflictions in ways that are uniquely shaped by such afflictions. The authors capture our need to shifting our attention from our dominant Western eepistemology to systems thinking. In this article, the authors argue that systems theory and thinking</p> <ul> <li>Reminds us of the pathologies of epistemology that may preclude learning from our relationship with Covid-19.</li> <li>Offers us a way to examine the relationship between an uninvited guest like Covid-19 guests and hosts (human beings) particularly in the light of Rumi’s formulation of being human, namely, as being a ‘guest house.’ While we may never get to a place where we invite Covid-19 into our lives, we can at least respect the fact that it will exist in our lives, as afflictions do, and with this awareness we can begin to find ways to co-exist with it, in the same way that we must do with all other creatures and nature on our only home – Mother Earth.</li> <li>Opens us to telling a story about our afflictions in ways that are uniquely shaped by such afflictions. In this regard the authors examine several human responses (stories) to Covid-19 within the context of our system that continues to change and evolve. &nbsp;</li> <li>Uncovers the need to recover from our state of addiction to a state of sobriety. The state of sobriety returns us to an awareness that we cannot just do one thing because each movement or perturbation necessarily resonates throughout the system.</li> <li>Allows us to shift to an ecological rather than a solely political or economic view of <em>Homo Sapiens. </em>This ecological shift moves us into a moral/ethical realm (we use them interchangeably here) whereby humankind learns to abide by another law. It is a law that is itself punctuated by the distinction between control and restraint. The punctuation of this distinction enables us to become more aware of our attempts to establish a unilateral control over that which is multilateral These attempts will not only fail, but they would also create different, and perhaps more serious problems. This development of another law to abide by, suggests that we surrender ourselves to being governed by the law of restraint.</li> </ul> Copyright (c) Covid-19 Pandemic and Migration 2020-06-26T14:18:25+00:00 Abel Yonas Zekarias <p>Migration is arguably becoming inevitable aspect of human being more than any time; people migrate every day to elsewhere to for economic or none-economic purposes. International migration is affected by various situation of host and origin countries of migrants.</p> <p>COVID-19 pandemic outbreak is causing extraordinary impacts on overall human activities and livelihoods, it left at least millions of migrants to unemployment, thousands to deportation and detentions as well as several to destitution.</p> <p>World is at the midst of fighting the pandemic, international organizations and states are committed to protect most disadvantaged sections of communities including international migrants.&nbsp; Despite warning of international communities including IOM and UNHCR outbreak of virus in refugee camps and migrant detention centers, the report of first positive case in Bangladeshi refugee camp on 15<sup>th</sup> of May 2020 put international community at the alert. The fear is high as millions of migrants are living in devastating, overcrowded and impoverished camps in Africa, Asia and Lantin America whose health systems are poor and living conditions are hard for anti-pandemic measures.</p> <p>Migrants are more vulnerable to the COVID-19 pandemic infections due to their lifestyles, higher propensity of irregularity and immigration status, lower security, devastating work conditions and lower wage, etc. Reports show that migrants are highly infected by virus in proportion to nationals.</p> <p>Post COVID-19 could bring some changes in recent migration history and could be characterized by Decreased emigration and increased returns, Tightened immigration policies and boarder checks, Higher costs of irregular migration, higher racism and xenophobic attacks on migrants, Remittance transaction channels would change, and decline remittances flow.</p> Copyright (c) Becoming a Posthuman Systemic Nomad. Part 2. 2020-06-26T14:30:57+00:00 Robert van Hennik <p>In the second part of the text ‘Becoming a posthuman systemic nomad’ I suggest ways in which systemic practitioners may become systemic nomads, reintegrating cybernetics and social constructionism and taking a new-materialist perspective on life. Systemic therapists may become ‘post human systemic nomads’, navigating and systemically learning in complex adaptive systems, in which we are relational responsible to all human and non-human actors in the networks that we produce and that we are produced by. Inspired by the philosophy of Deleuze and Guattari I made three cartographies for us, systemic nomads, navigating complexity in multi-actor systems. Systemic practitioners (from a new-materialist perspective) can co-create better ecological worlds if we are conscious of the effects of our actions in interdependent relationships with all actors in life, when – as nomads – we display systemic sensibility or intelligence (Senge, 2006) within systems of multi-actors.</p> Copyright (c) Towards Safe(r) Uncertainty 2020-06-26T14:53:06+00:00 Jennifer McKinney <p>As a way of guiding managers and empowering them to navigate their way through unchartered territory, we have adapted the&nbsp;<strong><em>safe uncertainty framework</em></strong>&nbsp;to be used as a sort of compass. This framework originates from the work of Barry Mason, a systemic and family psychotherapist.&nbsp; As Mason describes it&nbsp;<em>“The framework of safe uncertainty is particularly associated with addressing risk factors and how it can contribute to the development and maintenance of safer relationships”</em>&nbsp;(2019, p.343). We need to make way for&nbsp;<em>the unsaid</em>&nbsp;or&nbsp;<em>the not yet said</em>&nbsp;and open up space for conversations that may feel very difficult.&nbsp; People will be experiencing different things.&nbsp; Fear and anxiety may preoccupy some people while others may be experiencing such a sense of loss- loss of relationships through social distancing and perhaps loss of people from their lives (family/friends/neighbours and indeed service users).&nbsp; In talking about relationships we do not refer only to the relationships between people but our relationship to the pandemic itself, to our sense of being, our sense of belonging and our relationship to our work.</p> Copyright (c) Dr Doing remote systemic psychotherapy during a pandemic –responses from a speedy Quality Improvement Project 2020-07-03T15:26:31+00:00 Sarah L Helps <p>The past 20 years have seen a gradual rise in research about and practice of video or telepsychotherapy. With the worldwide lockdown imposed in response to the Covid-19, coronavirus, the practice of face to face systemic psychotherapy using the approaches, methods and techniques that have been carefully developed over the past five decades has become impossible. With an unbelievable rapidity, new methods of providing therapeutic services have been devised and implemented to ensure service continuity. &nbsp;</p> <p>This short practice paper describes the findings of a rapid quality improvement project to explore the effects of remote delivery on systemic psychotherapy since the UK lockdown imposed due to Covid-19. Reflections of early-adopter clinicians based on 20 remote systemic psychotherapy sessions, completed between March and April 2020 show that that the rapid move to the delivery of remote systemic psychotherapy is acceptable and indeed welcomed by clinicians and families and that robust therapeutic work can be done. Findings indicate that the conversational flow of remote systemic psychotherapy sessions is different to face-to-face to face sessions but can work; that it is necessary to do things differently with our words and bodies; and that the practice of doing meaningful dialogue when separated by screens requires further exploration.</p> Copyright (c) Dialogues and Questions 2020-06-15T12:36:19+00:00 Ruth Elizabeth Eustace <p>I explore the methods and processes of 1st Preson inquiry using an Action Research methodology. The focus of this inquiry is on how my practice of ethical being with students in a clinical training team is experienced . In particular,&nbsp; I explore&nbsp; how writing can create invitations into the lived experience that is creative, evocative and challenging. Central to my working is an exploration of ways that 1st Person inquiry can maintain a systemic eye.&nbsp;</p> Copyright (c) Editorial 2020-01-03T21:24:01+00:00 Gail Simon 2020-01-03T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) 2020 Gail Simon Toward the Fluid Self 2020-02-12T09:43:43+00:00 Tahereh Barati <p><strong>Abstract</strong></p> <p><em>This article offers ideas to support a definition of self that could step outside of conceptualized boundaries of self as a bounded being. A fluid definition of self is when self is open to becoming and is able to embrace its multiple narratives. Informed by Deleuze’s ideas, a self- narrative has reduced a person to a single story. Operating from a single story is problematic, as it leads to developing a single truth and a fixed position on issues that matter to all. In this article, separating voice from subject is suggested to give meaning to a person’s multiple narratives. Separating voice from subject allows multiple voices dismissed within current artificial social divisions to get a chance to shine and become. &nbsp;Like the therapy room that is a place of becoming, our interactions with one another can be a place of our becoming. </em></p> Copyright (c) Knowing Systemic Rules Revisited 2020-01-03T21:46:51+00:00 Desa Markovic <p>What follows is a copy of Desa Markovic’s provocative paper which was originally published in 1993 in Human Systems: The Journal of Systemic Consultation and Management, Vol. 4, pp 235-258. It is reproduced here by kind permission of the editor Peter Stratton of our first cousin journal.</p> <p>At the end of this paper are three reflections. One is by Gianfranco Cecchin, another is by Desa Markovic both of which were published with the original paper in 1993. These are now followed by a contemporary reflection by Desa Markovic written in 2019 on the context of her writing this paper. She addresses her initial encounters with systemic social construction during a revolutionary period in systemic thinking when Desa was first a student and then a tutor at the Kensington Consultation Centre (KCC) in London.</p> <p>When you have read this paper and its reflections, please explore other historic papers published by Human Systems journal which are now freely available to download.</p> <p><br><strong>Abstract</strong></p> <p>This paper proposes a Model of Stages to describe the processes of learning and understanding the systemic approach. Six hypothetical stages are constructed as different positions to be taken in relation to 'knowing systemic rules'.</p> <p>Stages are suggested as a heuristic device, as one possible way of telling the story of what happens on the journey of becoming systemic. (Do not believe that it is more or less true than any other true story!)</p> <p>The relationships between stages are not based on a paradigm of linear development. The Stages Model is proposed as ever evolving through the circular, spiralling patterns and processes which last beyond any training course.</p> 2019-12-31T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) 2019 Desa Markovic Transmaterial Worlding. Beyond Human Systems 2020-02-16T09:05:36+00:00 Gail Simon Leah K Salter <p>In this paper we reframe systemic social construction as transmaterial worlding to include human and non-human participants. We discuss what it means to be human in the Anthropocene era with reference to posthuman new materialist theory. We introduce systemic living as onto-epistemological becoming, movement and meaning-making practices in and between human and non-human parts of our worlds. The paper discusses power relations and ways of bringing forth lost-destroyed indigenous ways of knowing which make time and space for new understandings and experimental responses to what we are making together at a local and global level. We discuss how transmaterial worlding requires a new understanding by humans to see their place in this planet as co-inhabitation. We offer examples of transmaterial worlding from across different contexts and suggest some systemic questions for how we can live ethically in a transmaterial world that honours societal, cultural, professional and other kinds of situated knowledge and know-how.</p> 2019-12-31T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) 2019 Gail Simon, Leah K Salter Critique of Pure Treatment 2019-12-12T08:43:35+00:00 <p>As scientist-practitioners, psychotherapists are to engage in high level analytical methods of reason. Yet, there are nearly unbridgeable chasms between the bases of our deductive diagnostic categorizing, our inductive treatment planning, and our deductive clinical interventioning. Somewhere in the midst of those chasms are the realities and relationships that define the contours of space and meaning in the client's universe. It is there–in the abyss of those elusive gulfs–where understanding often hides.</p> Copyright (c) The Fifth Province Approach as a Systemic Meditative Practice 2019-12-31T23:36:44+00:00 Imelda McCarthy Jean Minogue <p>In this paper we want to share our experience of using systemic practices from a systemic Fifth Province Approach in the facilitation of meditation groups and retreats.&nbsp; We refer to our way of being and doing as a ‘Fifth Province Systemic Meditative Practice’.&nbsp; The practices and approach we will present can be likened to a kind of human murmuration, where &nbsp;surprising, generative, inter/intra-active and relational processes emerge.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; These emergent processes or transformations occur spontaneously and are from within the subtle, communicative, behaviour and relational aspects of the whole group.&nbsp; It is in this context that we use the word ‘intra-relational’ after the work of Karen Barad (2007 p33).&nbsp; The term ‘subtle’ refers to all the non-verbal emergences occurring from the spiritual, mental, emotional, behavioural and social processes at play.</p> <p>&nbsp;The first author (Imelda) set the meditation group up twenty years ago and has facilitated it more or less since then. The second author (Jean), facilitates the group from time to time and has, along with the first author, enjoyed tracing and noting both the practices and the emergent processes over time. &nbsp;Indeed, her Master’s in Spirituality examined those processes and explored how they could be learned and applied in a group or individual setting. (Minogue 2018)</p> 2019-12-31T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) 2019 Imelda McCarthy, Jean Minogue A relationally constructed research on Relational Being 2019-11-11T14:44:35+00:00 Garbiñe Delgado Raack <p>I would like to present my PhD research conducted from a postmodern and constructionist perspective which is very much influenced by collaborative and dialogical practices. I will therefore briefly present how I understood postmodernity and social construction while conducting this research. Then I will focus on collaborative and dialogical practises as Harlene Anderson (1997) presents them, followed by the application of those ideas to research, that Janice DeFehr (2008) developed. The use of DeFehr`s method, Dialogic Social Inquiry, helped to realize that new locally developed collaborative and relational methodologies were needed. These methodologies are presented in the third section of this article.</p> <p>Finally, a reflection on the double hearing or listening Anderson (1997) proposes for therapy is made. This idea is also useful for research, since, as it is shown in this text, not only the data or content but also the research process was relationally created.</p> Copyright (c) Dare To Play 2020-01-01T00:36:13+00:00 <p>Inspired by watching a group of children playing freely during their summer holidays, in this essay I am drawing parallels between the activities of playing and improvisation with learning and participatory action in our relational contexts. I am looking at improvisational participatory activity as key to learning, development and growth. Through the mentioning of the four stages of competence model, I am discussing how “mathematising” expert knowledge and competence in terms of stages of advancement, evaluation measures and de-contextualised accounting systems, may weaken our abilities for intuitive, spontaneous improvisations in our relational activities and restrict learning from within the doing and development of practice knowledge.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> 2019-12-31T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) 2019 Joanna Michopoulou Becoming a Posthuman Systemic Nomad 2019-12-31T23:36:44+00:00 Robert Van Hennik <p><strong>Abstract</strong></p> <p>We live in a complex, globalised world. Everything is connected and still many of us feel detached, disconnected from other entities on earth. We might sleepwalk into a global ecological crisis and therefore we need to develop new ways of living together differently. Can we imagine an ecological response on globalisation and complexity? What difference can systemic practitioners make, a difference that makes a difference, that matters (Bateson, 1979)? &nbsp;Transformation in a complex system is the emergent result of interactions between its components and its environment. We can’t predict and control inter-action between al multi-actors in a complex system. We can anticipate, improvise and learn how to learn. In this article I present a theoretical framework, inspired by Neo-Materialism, that integrates cybernetics and social-constructionism in contemporary systemic thinking. The question I ask is how to navigate complexity and offer accountability about the process of systemic learning, without getting drawn into the paradoxical spiral of control. I suggest ways in which therapists may become systemic nomads and describe how to produce ‘validity from within’, remaining open to the unpredictable process of becoming in multi-actor networks of human and non-human generators.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> 2019-12-31T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) 2019 Robert Van Hennik