Reviewer: Wendy Marshall Chase, MA (Hospital for Special Care)
Description: This is a comprehensive review of the role of narrative in personal development, professional growth and construction of client treatment programs that maximize potential. It uses historical discussion, theoretical and research-based documentation, and personal stories to support these goals.
Purpose: The author notes that this book uses stories to talk about stories. It purports to help us understand ourselves through a review of the narratives of our own lives, to apply knowledge of the research into narrative use in speech-language pathology and its cultural and social history to working with clients, and to tie the use of narrative-based practice to the principles of evidence-based practice. The book is engaging and thought provoking as it guides readers through these objectives.
Audience: The introduction describes the intended audience as wide ranging, from students through seasoned professionals. Indeed, the book is appropriate for any individuals interested in improving their practice, but how they will use it will vary with their experience and knowledge of the basic tenets of narrative-based treatment. The author provides considerable support for the ideas through references and personal research and practice.
Features: The book begins with the author's compelling personal narrative that engages readers in immediate contemplation of their own response to the story. The first section then relates a variety of perspectives on the importance of narratives in personal growth and the role of narratives in our society and culture. The second section discusses the methodology and research available for analysis of narratives, specific information on illness narratives, and approaches that are specific to speech-language pathology. Section three, a series of the author's personal stories, is unique. What they mean to each reader will be specific to his or her circumstances, experiences, and values, but each will surely spark individual reflection and, if shared, healthy debate. The author describes the developing practice of case-based learning in education and encourages the use of the book in a similar manner. Of exceptional value is section four, where the author applies evidence-based practice in medicine to the use of narrative-based practice in speech-language pathology. Specifically, it discusses approaches to the use of narratives in treatment, ways that narratives are impacted by communication disorders, and interventions that can be used to improve narrative ability. It is this section that best supports new clinicians. There are three helpful appendixes. The first gives very concrete guidance on using the book as a source of continuing education and supports the learning objectives and study/discussion questions that are helpfully included with each chapter. The second is a bibliography of sociocultural issues in narrative practice and importantly recognizes the need to analyze narrative within the context of the cultural perspective from which it is drawn. The third is a listing of published personal narratives of individuals with communication disorders.
Assessment: If the goal of this very readable book is to encourage self awareness and a review of the impact of our own experiences on the treatment programs we design for our clients, then that goal was achieved. The information is well supported and in line with current trends in the profession, including life participation approaches, evidence-based practice, and case-based education.