Michael White, October 2006; photograph by Jill Freedman
|Born||29 December 1948|
|Died||4 April 2008 59) (aged|
|Occupation||family therapist, author|
Michael White (29 December 1948 – 4 April 2008) was an Australian social worker and family therapist. He is known as the founder of narrative therapy, and for his significant contribution to psychotherapy and family therapy, which have been a source of techniques adopted by other approaches.
Michael Kingsley White was born and raised in Adelaide, South Australia. His first professional job was as a probation and welfare worker. He earned an undergraduate social work degree from the University of South Australia in 1979 and worked as a psychiatric social worker at the Adelaide Children's Hospital. He founded the Dulwich Centre in 1983 and began a private practice as a family therapist. He continued to be associated with Dulwich Centre until his death.
White was a practicing social worker and co-director of the Dulwich Centrein Adelaide, South Australia, and was author of several books of importance in the field of family therapy and narrative therapy.
In January 2008, White set up the Adelaide Narrative Therapy Centreto provide counselling services and training workshops relevant to work with individuals, couples, families, groups and communities and to provide a context for exploring recent developments relevant to narrative practice."
Michael White was also particularly known for his work with children and Indigenous Aboriginal communities, as well as with schizophrenia, anorexia/bulimia, men's violence, and trauma.
He received the following awards, honours, invitations:
While early influences included those of systems theory and cybernetics (Gregory Bateson),White's main work drew on a wide range of sources, including literary theory (Jerome Bruner), cultural anthropology (Clifford Geertz, Barbara Myerhoff, Victor Turner), non-structuralist psychology (William James, Lev Vygotsky) and French critical / post-structuralist philosophy (Jacques Derrida, Gilles Deleuze and Michel Foucault).
Key therapeutic ideas developed by White include 'externalizing the problem',commonly summarised as 'the person is not the problem, the problem is the problem'; 're-authoring' the dominant stories of people's lives; and the idea of 'double-listening' to accounts of trauma: not only the accounts of trauma itself, but how people have responded to trauma.
Key practices of narrative therapy and 'maps' of narrative practice include:
Michael White's books have also been published in Danish, Spanish, Japanese, Swedish, Italian, German, Chinese, Finnish, French and Portuguese.
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Gestalt therapy is a form of psychotherapy which emphasizes personal responsibility, and focuses upon the individual's experience in the present moment, the therapist–client relationship, the environmental and social contexts of a person's life, and the self-regulating adjustments people make as a result of their overall situation. It was developed by Fritz Perls, Laura Perls and Paul Goodman in the 1940s and 1950s, and was first described in the 1951 book Gestalt Therapy.
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Dyadic developmental psychotherapy is a psychotherapeutic treatment method for families that have children with symptoms of emotional disorders, including complex trauma and disorders of attachment. It was originally developed by Daniel Hughes as an intervention for children whose emotional distress resulted from earlier separation from familiar caregivers. Hughes cites attachment theory and particularly the work of John Bowlby as theoretical motivations for dyadic developmental psychotherapy.
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