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Expertise of a Narrative Mediator

Expertise of a Narrative Mediator

Do you need a background in psychology or linguistics to succeed as a narrative mediator?



Full Transcript

No, I don’t think so, because you, you know, when you go home this evening, or wherever you’re going to go, you go back to your house and your kids went back to school and your daughter complains to your wife that, in fact, ‘Daddy forgot my choir practice,’ and your wife turns around, looks at you, ready to stab you, because you’ve done that every single time, she’s fed up, you know exactly how to react. You know exactly what the story is that she has. You know, she doesn’t even have to breathe a word, you know what her story is. And you know exactly how to navigate that story in a way that would not lead to a third world war there in the kitchen tonight. So, and your daughter knows exactly how to tell the story, just, and then stand back and watch the fur fly, you know?


So we are, all of us, competent to narrative. We do not need to have advanced degrees in this. We do this every day. So, I feel like, in my, I’m teaching a class now on narrative practice for our students at the doctorate level, masters level, and, you know, we spend a lot of time paying attention to the stories we already know and exploring the stories we already are telling, and then, and we do that sort of rising up our own respect, increasing our respect for our own capacity as storytellers. We already are.


Then there are discreet techniques that we offer, you know, not only re-framing, which is pretty dominant, but positive connotation and externalisation and negative explanation and circular questions, and there’s a whole bag of things that can go along with this that could be technologies, but, you know, people, you just get an idea of where you’re, what you’re trying to do, people can usually find their way there even though they need experience and practice because people are afraid. They’re very afraid to mess around with other people’s stories.

About the mediator

Sara Cobb Profile Pic

Dr. Sara Cobb, (Ph.D., University of Massachusetts, Amherst) is a Professor at The School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution (S-CAR) at George Mason University, where she was also the Director for 8 years. In this context she teaches and conducts research on the relationship between narrative and violent conflict; she is also the Director of the Center for the Study of Narrative and Conflict Resolution at S-CAR that provides a hub for scholarsh... View Mediator