Narrative family therapy with students encountering school non-attendance problems by Yuk King Lau

Yuk King Lau brings together narrative therapy and systemic family therapy in her practice with students encountering difficulties in school attendance. This integration includes: (1) Shifting from privileged systemic ‘assessment’ to co-researching;  (2) Moving from giving consultation to a ‘rite of exchange’; (3) Exploring the active participation of problems in ‘family dynamics’; (4) Collaboratively re-authoring identities and developing alternative relational practice; (5) Creating mutual witnessing processes among family members; and (6) moving from clinical intervention to collective practice.

The integration of these two approaches facilitates a clear construction of how problems lead to provocative relational practices among people, including family members. It takes the blame away from the family when highlighting how the family members engage in negative relational practices that escalate the problem. It also facilitates changes at two levels: changes in the persons’ narrative including their self-narratives and family-narratives, and changes in their relational practices.


Yuk King Lau is a Professional Consultant in the Department of Social Work, The Chinese University of Hong Kong. She is a committed and enthusiastic scholar in family studies and practice research, as well as a dedicated practitioner and trainer in family-centered practice. Having been trained both in structural family therapy and narrative therapy, she is now innovating family-centered social work practice with post-divorce families and families with young people who have dropped out of school in the Chinese context of Hong Kong. Her work reflects her great concern for not only the special challenges encountered by individuals and families in a changing society, but also the structural and ideological change and service development necessary to help them to meet these challenges.

Published July 29, 2016

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Troy Holland

    Dear Yuk-king Lau,

    So lovely to see you again! Thanks for sharing some of the stories of the co-work you and the families you meet with perform.

    Many things resonated for me but two in particular were:

    1) The practice of ‘interrupted them and suggested an externalisation’ – naming this practice this way will be very helpful for me when I think about how I will intervene when two family members are engaged in blaming relational practices. This is definitely a practice I am always looking to get better at and each time I hear or see how another person handles this I get a closer sense of how I want to carry this out. This will be very helpful for me in regard to work I share with a teenager boy and his grandparents who have all been affected by ‘drama’ and ‘violence’;

    2) The idea of ‘toxicity of social recognition’ was another very useful naming for me. So often I meet with people (and I could probably include myself at times) who have found themselves relying on ‘social recognition’ as their main source of holding value for themselves or their ways or their actions. Thinking about externalising ‘social recognition’ in this way and considering both the helpful and harmful effects of it will be very useful in my work. It has me thinking about Michael White’s Addressing Personal failure map and about times when people give themselves a break from seeking social recognition and what they might prioritise or place value on instead in those times.

    Thanks again for these wonderful namings!
    Warm wishes

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