Publication Details

Wilkins, P. & Donovan, M. O. (2007). A conversation with virus X: Outing a malevolent and subversive force in parents' lives. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Family Therapy, 28 (3), 138-145.


The following conversation describes a narrative means of uncovering (or ‘deconstructing’) some of the invisible forces that undermine parents’ capacities in caring for their children in preferred ways. In the authors’ experience, parents can be hugely resourceful and provide a clear account of what they ‘should’ be doing, yet seem unable to act upon their own good advice — it is as though an external agent, named below as ‘Virus X’, prevents them from being the parents they would like to be. Through naming this external agent, identifying its influences and noticing parents’ acts of resistance in the face of these influences, antidotes to Virus X can be developed. This paper describes the development of such an approach within a child behaviour management group. In keeping with the playful approach encouraged by narrative therapy, the authors of this paper join forces to act as investigative journalists in exposing Virus X to the readers.



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