Whispers Behind Walls: Narrative Conversations in Prison
There are two sides to every story. Sometimes, more. Kameron Nelson doesn’t care – she just wants an opportunity for the story to be told.
Nelson, a doctoral student at University of the Rockies, has been working with inmates in the Montana Women’s Prison in Billings, Mont., to tell their stories as part of a therapeutic process. In partnership with a creative writing professor and a prison social worker, Kameron has conducted two 12-16 week sessions with inmates. She will present her findings March 6-8 in Adelaide, Australia.
Twelve incarcerated women volunteered to participate in the program, which involved two sessions per week. The first meeting focused on the writing process and examples from literature. Then writing experiences were given, and the following session focused on therapy.
“Through the assignments, inmates were able to target personal experiences and to re-author their stories in ways that helped them achieve distance from the memories,” explains Nelson. “They also recounted the sensory details of experiences to help them reconnect with emotional states.”
This process, called narrative therapy, is successful because it provides distance between “problems” and “people.” The women are also given an outlet to investigate emotional, cultural, and institutional issues.
The project, which was funded in part by a grant from Montana State University-Billings, will be showcased at the 11th International Narrative Therapy and Community Work Conference in Adelaide, Australia. Nelson, along with her partners from the Montana Women’s Prison, will attend the conference March 6-8.
Nelson is currently a pre-doctoral intern at The Center for Children and Families in Billings, Mont., and attends University of the Rockies’ weekend program.
About University of the Rockies
University of the Rockies is an advanced graduate institution for tomorrow’s thought leaders. The University provides an intimate and dynamic learning environment, offering highly specialized master’s and doctoral degree programs in the social and behavioral sciences, access to industry experts, campus clinical programs for practical experience, and research and publishing opportunities. University of the Rockies is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission and a member of the North Central Association (www.ncahlc.org). Small by design, University of the Rockies classes are presented in a progressive online format and at its Colorado Springs, Colorado, campus. For more information, please visit www.rockies.edu or call Shari Winet Rodriguez, vice president of Public Relations, at 866.621.0124 x2513.