June 25, 2016 @ 9:22 PM

As Social Designers we’re beginning to work with people in increasingly difficult places. We’re equipped with tools to provide considered outcomes but there is little discussion on the complexities of engaging people who are vulnerable or experiencing hardship.

If people have endured a significant number of difficult experiences it can be easy for them to develop a mindset that problems are the status quo. White (1990) refers to this as resignation to a “problem saturated story” which can be disempowering as they are often based on dysfunction and weakness. People in these circumstance can often be difficult to engage as attachment to problem stories can create resistance to change or inhibit their ability to envision a positive future reality (Morgan, 2000; White, 1999).

My Phd is currently exploring Re-authoring approaches within Narrative Therapy and Appreciative Inquiry, Which have emerged as a way to disarm problem stories that can dominate people’s lives and establish space for clients to author a counter story which is more likely to increase wellbeing and empower a positive future.

The challenge is to incorporate this approach within a design which is attempting to develop social AND physical architecture together.

Read a full length article here:


And published conference paper here:



Please share and if you're exploring similar processes please let me know, I'd love to hear from you!