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Storyography: A brave new world with story and the arts

Course Dates: Open-ended
Enrollment Dates: Enroll Anytime
Who can Enroll: Anyone
Course Language: English
Signo Admin
Signo Admin
Dear instructor and student. At Signo we advance collaborative professionals! We help around at the backend of this particular site to ensure that these guys (lecturers) and students are fine. The current course is designed by the lecturers in such a way that it fits in nicely ...
Elmo Pienaar
Elmo Pienaar
Hi, I am Elmo Pienaar and I am a course instructor here at narrativeartspractices.com I am passionate about exploring possibilities of working at the intersections of life. I have a particular interest in coaching and organisational matters. I was raised in a musical home where the neighbors ...
Jo Viljoen
Jo Viljoen
My name is Jo, I am a course instructor here an narrativeartspractices.com I am excited about how the arts contribute to rich story development. What I know is that even the toughest problems are not hundred percent successful and that the arts have a knack for helping ...
Storyography: A brave new world with story and the arts

About this course

Storyography, a brave new world

Welcome traveler. This course takes the learner on a journey into the the world of combining narrative practices and the arts. Think therapy, specifically Narrative Therapy but then expand your mind as it is also related to coaching, mentoring, facilitation, business environments and other settings. Collectively we refer to it as Narrative Practices (Narrative Ideas).

And of course, in addition to Narrative Practice also think 'arts' (as in creative arts, performing arts, crafts and others)

This is a significant course/programme. We fully intend for you to know what you're doing after the programme. It is not just three hour training quicky. We will add those as well but first we need to know that you understand the narrative paradigm and the case for and uses of arts in general before we will home in on other much shorter courses with specific arts.

This course fully aligns with certification from a growing interdisciplinary but voluntary professional body called SignoPro which is one of the partners to the programme. The programme was put together by two third generation narrative practitioners, meaning they've been part of narrative work from the early stages in the 1990's.

So what do we see as the outcome?


The following outcomes are envisaged upon completion of the course:

  • Thorough understanding of the foundational concepts of narrative practice
  • Have gained a sufficient conceptual framework for the arts-related terminology and how it fits with narrative ideas.
  • Have engaged a number of the arts at a foundational level
  • Understand their role as a narrative arts practitioners
  • Will have had an opportunity to apply the ideas in their chosen context (whether organisations, families, or individuals)
  • Have gained practical experience in applying the concepts

What does the interaction consist of?


The online system on the website keeps track of users' progress in the form of units, do-able assessments and assignments. Some assignments are indeed completed offline but some are then submitted via email and others submitted to social media platforms. Note that since this course involves learning about helping people you will be required to actually engage people as per the specific activity instruction. In some cases commenting or taking part in specific conversations on social media is encouraged. Self paced learning on the website lies at the heart of the learning thereby recognising that many have busy work schedules and other commitments. You may also be invited to online live conversations which will be introduced this year but would not be compulsory at present.


The offline aspect is what takes the learning from a distance learning online programme to what is called blended learning. True enough, there is already a blended learning component to the course. But what we are referring to here assumes local participation in person as we host various workshops throughout the year or events and outings.

Such workshops and events are free unless there are costs that we cannot reasonably cover depending on what we do. So why not? If you are around, pay attention and join us for however many workshops we host during your online journey. Your active status as an online student is your ticket to the workshops. The purpose of the workshops is to further advance students' learning in practice. They deal with a variety of themes from leadership, anxiety, depression, organisational subject matter and others. They also showcase the ideas within different helping agencies such coaching, mentoring and therapy/counselling. The workshops are also open to outside participants but at a cost.

The outings (as opposed to workshops) might include anything from visiting local exhibitions, a theater production, going for a walkabout to a place cultural significance and so on. There are outings that learners have to do as part of assignment activities (compulsory) but what we are talking about here involves local semi-formal group outings. Local outings work in favour of participants' learning experience. For these please follow our social media pages or relevant website information.

Time frame

While the system will keep track, you will have to mark where appropriate that you have completed a certain activity. Students have six months to complete the programme. Don't worry you won't be cut off if you need more time. Consider catching up to one of the groups (if they are present at that time) to help keep you motivated. But when doing it entirely as an individual consider that there are about sixteen weeks in a six month period. On average the student has two weeks to complete a unit.

Acknowledgement and certification

A certificate will be generated for successful completion of the course. The course partners with a voluntary professional body, Signo, that seeks to build a community of practitioners globally who situate themselves broadly in collaborative practice (whether in leadership, management, psychology, coaching or other modalities. Because the course is online, and hence international, the approach at this stage is not, other than for at Signo, to register it with respective international councils and continuing education programmes. We are also quite sure than many of these regulatory bodies will not understand or even know about (and therefore be unable to appreciate) the epistemological and scientific interdisicplinary approach that we take.

Hardware and technology

Most modern technology will do the job just fine. You have to be able to depend on it. The most intensive activity technological speaking is perhaps the live audio/video aspect. Naturally, watching videos assumes that you have a relevant data plan.

A bit more on content and structure

The basic progression of the course takes place through units which mostly consists of a Section A and B.


The course is constructed via units with a number of units covering ideas such as the power of image, movement and other. Quizzes are answered at selected units for which you will be able to page back.

Most of the units consist of pages and sections. Section A is mostly dedicated to arts related subject matter in which we infuse narrative ideas. Section B or sometimes contained in a further section is devoted to a structured process of learning narrative ideas along with a suggested process model.

Learners will encounter assignments throughout the sections. Many basic assignments are designed to convey critical ideas and are not so much for evaluation purposes. Sometimes it merely instructs learners to write a short reflection while at other times learners will have to seek out and interview an artist, drive to specific places and take photos (even just with their smart phones), watch a movie, and many other fun learning activities and creative projects. We look for engagement rather than testing head knowledge.

Section A: Arts informed material

Section A of each unit covers core concepts on the interplay between narrative practice and the arts. Where applicable it offers foundational knowledge of a particular art form in which we integrate narrative ideas to give participants a sense of how narrative work and ideas relate to a particular art. Being a significant but foundational course participants need not worry that it is going to be over their heads. It is not highly technical in regards to the arts. We hope however that you will be so inspired to actually do something more with it; maybe take up those piano lessons you've always wanted, join a weekend painting group,  and so on.

As an example to the above basic level arts learning. With photography for instance (under the heading of 'the power of image') it covers easily digestible technical terms such exposure, lenses, framing. But the aim is not the technical stuff but understanding a bit of it so as to use it as metaphors or in other ways. We write in a way that merges these simple technical photographic concepts with narrative ideas. This is the metaphorical use of the arts in narrative practice but there are many others. Subsequent courses will go into more detail and offer electives in either, for instance, architecture, drawing, drama and more.

Many of the units are grouped by headings such as 'the power of image' (for instance photography, which is what we start off with). We hope to see lots and lots of photographs, even just taken with your smart phone on the Facebook social media page (as one of the places where selected assignments need sometimes be posted). This also creates a sense of community. Other themes include 'the power of words, of movement, of sound.' In this course we are both highly appreciative of art but also deconstruct notions of art. It promotes the understanding that we are, as skilled helpers, both artist and artwork. And that what we do together, alongside our client, is a work of art. We explain the concept of skilled helping and the basics of epistemology so that learners understand that they can in fact use Narrative Arts Practices for coaching, therapy, professional facilitation and consulting, mentoring and many other modalities.

Section B: Narrative practice ideas and questions

Sections B or other dedicated section to this end, offers a process model of Narrative Practice and delves deeper into some of its ideas. This section is focused on Narrative Ideas as such, without the arts terminology. This way the course is strategically designed to both 1) teach narrative practice to newcomers, as is, and 2) relate it to the arts (for those who are already narrative practitioners) and 3) introduce concepts that we work with on the intersection between stories and arts. Some include 'Storyography' 'DEP filters' 'The practitioner matrix' a postmodern 'epic' framework.

We use DEP filters to engage the arts respectfully - both high art (the Picassos's) and low art (Crafts Projects). In this we emphasise a fully facilitative stance as opposed to some other arts related therapies. In other words learners don't have to worry that they will need to be the one dancing, although that is an option. We clear up the confusion that not all the ways in which stories are used out there is narrative therapy/practice and offer processes/ assignments along the way to help learners discern how to use whichever concept of story in a more desirable way.

If you want to see this course registered for continuing professional development points you are welcome to approach us. We have not done so yet because our focus is global and there are just too many committees and processes over the far reaches of mother earth. If you would like to play a role in this regard in your country (for psychology, social work, management councils, and others, we'll be happy to hear from you). That is also why we have chosen to work with Signo as a very innovative newly formed voluntary professional body instead of approaching a plethora of professional bodies across the globe and in multiple disciplines, because, well, narrative practice is fully interdisciplinary. We feel that we can only get to the most meaningful answers for our day with an interdisciplinary perspective. And to this, the arts is a superb partner as it reaches into the nooks and crannies of what it means to be human.


Click here for the registration procedure, payment details and more.If at any stage you are uncertain or experience difficulties we would be happy to streamline your registration on the back end.

See you on the journey!

Kind regards,

Drs. Elmo Pienaar and Jo Viljoen

Course Structure

  • Course welcoming and introduction
    • Introductory remarks and unit structure explanation
      • Reflection
  • UNIT 1-2: Beginnings in photography
    • Section A: Beginnings in photography
      • Reflection
    • Section B: Overview of narrative concepts
      • Meet Jill Freedman and Gene Combs
      • Short descriptions of narrative ideas
      • Reflection
    • References and further resources
  • UNIT 1-3: Beginnings in photography (part 2)
    • Another small step in the beginnings in photography (part 2)
      • Video references for the basics of photography
      • Reflection
    • Honouring arts and lives through DEP filters
      • Assignment: Storied Photography
      • Reflection
    • Section B: Narrative ideas, concepts, and questions
      • Introduction to a narrative practice process
      • When should we ask which questions
      • Category 1: Deconstruction
  • UNIT 2-1: Deconstructing Art
    • Overview to unpacking the arts
      • Reflection
    • Reflection on assignment: Kinds of arts
      • Prior participants' assignment answers and reflection
      • Reflection
    • High art Low Art: Towards local art
      • Reflection
    • The role of the narrative arts practitioner
      • Reflection
    • Sectoin B: Narrative ideas, concepts and questions
      • Reflection
  • UNIT 2-2: Appreciating Arts
  • UNIT 2-3: EPIC antidote to modernistic and rational discourses
  • UNIT 3-1: The power of words
  • UNIT 3-2: The power of words (First Steps in Storyography)
  • UNIT 4: The power of sound
  • UNIT 5: The power of image (part 3 - excluding photography)
  • UNIT 6: The power of movement
  • UNIT 7: The power of spaces and places
  • BONUS UNIT: Where to from here

Join us on the mission

From the arts to the art of life