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He started out as a mechanical draughtsman before moving into social work and developing skills in family therapy.
Hart (1995) suggested that White's therapeutic career developed in three phases.
- Phase I - up to mid 1980s-- he was heavily influenced by the work of Gregory Bateson, his system of "Strategic Therapy," and the general notions of cybernetics. White's now familiar formulations of "externalizing the problem" and “facilitating a mutually acceptable definition of the problem” arose at this time when he was taking a problem-solving approach to therapeutic change.
- Phase II - During the late 1980s he developed a more person-centered approach emphasizing meaning construction and narrative while, at the same time, developing a deeper appreciation for the social construction of reality and issues of social justice. White becomes concerned with "reauthoring lives" rather than merely solving problems.
- Phase III - From the early 1990s, he has developed narrative therapy, more fully emphasising postmodernist ideas, particularly those of Foucault.(See Narrative Means to Therapeutic Ends, pg. 1-2)
- White, M. (1989). Selected papers. Adelaide, Australia: Dulwich Centre Publications.
- White, M. & Epston,D.(1990). ‘Narrative Means to Therapeutic Ends’.W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN 0-393-70098-4
- Epston,D. & White, M.(1992) Experience, contradiction, narrative, and imagination--Selected papers of David Epston and Michael White, 1989-1991. Adelaide, Australia: Dulwich Centre Publications
- White, M. (1995). Re-authoring lives: Interviews and essays. Adelaide, Australia: Dulwich Centre Publications.
- White, M., (1997).Narratives of Therapists' Lives. Dulwich Centre Publications.
- White, M. (2000). Reflections on narrative practices: Essays and interviews. Adelaide, Australia: Dulwich Centre Publications.
- White, M. (1992). Deconstruction and therapy. In D. Epston & M. White, M., Experience, contradiction, narrative, and imagination--Selected papers of David Epston and Michael White, 1989-1991. Adelaide, Australia: Dulwich Centre Publications.
White, M. (1987). Family therapy and schizophrenia: Addressing the "in-the-corner" lifestyle. Dulwich Centre Newsletter, Spring, 14-21.
White, M. (1988). The process of questioning: A therapy of literary merit. Dulwich Centre Newsletter, Winter, 8-14.
White, M. (1989a). The externalizing of the problem and the re-authoring of lives and relationships. Dulwich Centre Newsletter, Summer, 3-20.
- White, M. (2002). Addressing personal failure. International Journal of Narrative Therapy and Community Work, Issue #3, 33-76.
- Bubenzer, D. L., & West, J. D. (1994). Michael White and the narrative perspective in therapy. [Family Journal], 2(1), 71-84.
- Hart, B. (1995). Re-authoring the stories we work by: Situating the narrative approach in the presence of the family of therapists. [Australian and New Zealand Journal of Family Therapy], 16(4), 181-189. [Online version]
- Munro, C., (1987). White and the cybernetic therapies: New of difference. [Australian and New Zealand Journal of Family Therapy], 8 (4), 183-192.