Suzanne Coyle Report on Desmond Tutu Faculty Fellowship 2014-2015 Award





Five MAMFT or M.Div./MAMFT students were trained in collective narrative practice over a two month period. The students are as follows: Thaddeus Shelton, African-American MAMFT; Guirlene Thomas-Durosier, Haitian-American M.Div./MAMFT; Bere Gil Soto, Mexican M.Div./MAMFT; Maryjane Behforouz, Euro-American MAMFT; and Michael Montgomery, African-American M.Div./MAMFT. We used three books: Narrative Therapy by Stephen Madigan, Collective Narrative by David Denborough, and Uncovering Spiritual Narratives: Using Story in Pastoral Care and Ministry by Suzanne Coyle. We met weekly for 2 hours.  We decided to use the “Staff of Spirit” from Uncovering Spiritual Narratives for the groups. Then, prior to leading the storytelling groups, the group engaged in “Staff of Spirit” for their own experience. It took longer for the students to assimilate the learning from the training.  This is a component of the project that I want to learn more about.

Collaboration with a Community Mental Health Center

I initiated a collaboration with the Edna Martin Christian Community Center in consultation with the Executive Director, Tysha Hardy-Sellers. The center is an United Way agency affiliated with ABC-USA. The students led the storytelling group based on “Staff of Spirit” here at the Center. We plan to lead additional groups.

Collaboration with the Dulwich Centre

I am in an ongoing conversation with Cheryl White, Co-Director of the Dulwich Centre in Australia regarding a future collaboration.

Web Site

Pictures of me and the Tutu Student Fellows can be found on my new website launched in October 2015 at  There is also a page about this Tutu Project.

Peer-Reviewed Presentation

I will present a lecture, “Local Engagement of MFT Students in Social Justice” at the International Family Therapy World Congress in Kona, Hawaii, March 31-April 2.  Some of the students may accompany me.

Peer-Reviewed Journal Article

I have a draft of a journal article to be submitted to Contemporary Family Therapy, a peer-reviewed journal.  If the article is not accepted there, I will submit it to International Journal of Narrative Therapy and Community Work.

Chapter in Book

I have completed a draft of a book proposal Listening for Spirituality in Narrative Practice to be collaboratively authored with Simon Chen, Ph.D. of Hong Kong Baptist University and Carolos Chimpen, Ph.D. of University of Extremadura, Spain.  The project would be a chapter titled “Spirituality of Hope and Reconciliation.”

Worship Service at CTS Chapel

I and the student fellows led a workshop about the students’ personal stories as evoked by the “Staff of Spirit” collective narrative methodology.  Highlighting the service was a lecturn hanging depicting visual images evoked for the students as they participated in the “Staff of Spirit.”  The service “Hope from the Margins” can viewed below.

I plan to continue to expand the project and hopefully engage in the aspects of the project listed in the proposal that were not completed at this time.

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