Spring Conference Main Presentation

The Ideas and Practices of Narrative Therapy Within the Context of Trauma


Paul Gallant, Ph.D.

Current trauma research confirms what we know from our clinical experience: that interpersonal abuse, whether physical or psychological, is associated with the most severe and enduring negative effects. People who have experienced significant trauma struggle with feelings of emptiness, desolation and despair. People report being overwhelmed by a sense of hopelessness and paralysis and the belief there is little they can do to affect the shape of their lives. Trauma restructures our bodies and our brains in ways that disrupt the ability to fully experience safety, trust, mastery, and joy in our lives. In this presentation, we will examine the significant contributions of Narrative Therapy in assisting people to minimize and abate these negative effects of trauma. Drawing on interpersonal neuroscience and memory theory to support the work, Dr. Gallant will highlight the many innovative therapy practices of Michael White. He will use clinical video and live demonstration in presenting the skills of re-authoring conversations, definitional ceremonies, outsider-witnessing, externalizing the problem, the absent but implicit, categories of questions, rich story development, double listening, and other practices used in the revitalization of a person’s sense of self and strengthening of one’s place in the world. 

Learning Objectives:

In this presentation, participants will:

1. Learn Narrative Therapy practices and skills;

2. Learn the philosophical and theoretical underpinnings of Narrative Therapy;

3. Learn to apply Narrative Therapy ideas to the work of healing from trauma;

4. Learn what interpersonal neuroscience research and memory theory contribute to trauma work.


Paul Gallant, Ph.D, LCSW, LMFT

Dr. Paul Gallant is Co-Founder of the Narrative Therapy Institute, LLC with his wife, Virginia Maxfield, LCSW. They are in full time practice working with children, adolescents, adults, couples, and families in Athens, Georgia. In addition, they provide training, supervision, and consultation on Narrative Therapy ideas and practices at the local, national, and international level. Paul recently retired from 27 years of academic teaching, most recently as Associate Professor, Masters of Family Therapy Program, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Mercer University in Macon and Atlanta. He served as Clinical Director in the family therapy clinics at Barry University, Orlando campus and at Mercer University, Macon. He also served as Coordinator of the Narrative Therapy Research Consortium while at Nova Southeastern University in their masters and doctoral family therapy programs. 

Paul has worked at developing his craft as a family therapist and educator since earning his MSW degree from Dalhousie University in 1975, and his Ph.D. in Marriage and Family Therapy from Florida State University in 1988. With over 40 years of direct clinical experience, Paul has offered workshops and training in Narrative Therapy in the United States, Canada, Cuba, Mexico, Colombia, and England. Passionate about applying the ideas and practices of Narrative Therapy, Paul has written numerous articles and book chapters about his work with people who have been challenged by habits of self-harm, people whose self-identities have been affected by trauma and abuse, couples whose relationships have been threatened by conflict, and young people whose lives are governed by hopelessness. He is known for his use of the “metaphor of strength” in work with children.

Paul is an AAMFT Clinical Fellow and Approved Supervisor.