Meet Eleanor, the founder of and lead Peer Support Specialist at Mood Mend.
She has lived experience of “mental illness” and has been in symptom-free recovery since 2010. Eleanor has a lifetime of experience in the arts, particularly the narrative arts (writing, storytelling) and visual arts (photorealistic painting), with a background in Publishing alongside 15 years in the mental health branch of the non-profit sector.
She has over 10,000 hours of Peer Support experience and has worked with clients with all manner of mental health and substance use challenges, histories of trauma, justice involvement, and homelessness, Acquired Brain Injury (ABI), Concurrent Disorders, Dual Diagnoses (DD), and Geriatric Mental Health (GMH), one-on-one in their homes and in community, consumer/survivor/ex-patient, and institutional settings.
She is completing her Social Service Worker Diploma and will be pursuing registration with the College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers upon graduation.
While incorporating tools and techniques from CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), DBT (Dialectical Behavioural Therapy), and ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy), Eleanor predominately comes from the Narrative Therapy approach.
Narrative Therapy is like Art Therapy but with words! The focus of the approach is on the manner in which individuals construct meaning rather than on the way they behave. In philosophy and in neuroscience, the “I”/eye or the mind is what they call “the narrative centre of self.” Your mind is constantly generating the story of who you are to yourself and you, in turn, relay it to others. Narrative Therapy seeks to address minds that may be telling themselves problem-saturated narratives e.g. The Trauma Narrative — “I experienced trauma; therefore, I am damaged goods.”
It is a post-modern, talk therapy model (typically done one-on-one rather than in groups), developed by social workers Michael White and David Epston in the 70s and 80s, that focuses on social construction (concept: language doesn’t describe reality, it defines it), meaning making through language and relationships, and broader social and political discourses, all whilst considering multiple vantage points and Sparkling Moments or Unique Outcomes e.g. The Survive to Thrive Narrative — “I experienced trauma, I survived, and I aim to thrive!”
“I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become.” ~ Carl Jung
To put this modality to work in a group context, Eleanor has developed a meta-narrative technique – a writing course, Writing for Wellness™, and an art therapy-based course, Conscious Creativity™, meant to address the 5 main principles:
• shared and transformative experience
• naming and unpacking (assessment and intervention)
• meaning making
• listening and experience gathering
and 5 intended outcomes of Narrative Therapy:
• increased self-awareness (you are the expert in your own story)
• increased self-compassion
• externalizing problems
• constructing preferred identities
• developing courses of action
The goal is to deconstruct, rewrite (co-author) or re-imagine, and reconstruct the narratives we tell ourselves and others about ourselves in a way that helps us actualize positive change.