Ventriloquation and ghostwriting as responses to oppression in therapy
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AbstractBackground People coming to therapy as part of their recovery from torture may choose not to speak or write about their experiences, yet the process of seeking asylum requires that they must hand over their life stories for a true–false adjudication with potentially life and death consequences. When people have been silenced and speaking has become dangerous, there are major ethical challenges for the activist practitioner who, along with the person who has experienced torture, sees the importance of stories not only being understood and shared in ways which are factual but which contain truth. Methods I share my experiments with writing as a form of inquiry, specifically ghostwriting and ventriloquation. Findings These have the effects of (1) moving the therapeutic process into a collaborative inquiry between the client, an asylum seeker, and me as both counsellor and expert witness; (2) letting fictionalised tellings of ‘real life’ reveal the hidden and complex life stories of clients and counsellors and (3) sharing stories which would otherwise remain hidden and risk perpetuating oppressive practices. Implications for practice Ghostwriting and ventriloquation offer the practitioner-researcher ways of speaking from a first-person position, from ‘within’ experience rather than a distanced ‘about-ness’ position. In this dialogical writing, I use actual and imagined inner and outer voices to enable the sound of talk and thought to be reflexively and empathically heard and felt by readers. Relational ethics are considered in how to imagine the other and manage ownership of stories without reproducing oppressive practices.
CitationSimon G. (2016) 'Ventriloquation and ghostwriting as responses to oppression in therapy', Counselling and psychotherapy research, 17 (1), pp.16-24.