Biographic Narrative Interpretative Method Training

Louise Oliver

My research on child-to-parent abuse aims to interview families who are experiencing this issue, using the Biographic Narrative Interpretative Method (BNIM) developed by Tom Wengraf.  BNIM involves conducting rule governed interviews in which the first part of the interview is unstructured and the second part uses the words of the participant to ask more questions.  The analysis of the gathered information will be by using reflecting teams. These teams will help to maintain ‘multi-voiced’ interpretations. This idiographic method opens up the possibility for concurrently investigating multiple experiences, and through a better understanding, allows the development of new working-hypotheses.


The BNIM training is divided into two sections; the first part covers the interview technique to be used and the second part involves looking at the analysis method (This part will be delivered in 2015).


Having attended the first part of the training, understanding has been gained as to how challenging the interview technique is.  To know when to “push” for a ‘Particular Incident Narrative’ (PIN) can only be developed through practice, as is knowing when the participant is giving a PIN and not a generic incident narrative.   The initial training has involved holding six interviews; improving each time   with practice.  All attendees have had the opportunity to send two transcripts and notes to Wengraf for further critique, prior to holding the pilot interview.


There are three sub-sessions within this interview technique.  The first one uses the ‘Single -Question aimed at Inducing Narratives’ (SQUIN).  This involves asking one question, such as “tell me your life story” and allowing the participant to talk about what is important to them.  After a short break, or if appropriate another day, sub-session two can begin, using CUED-questions which are the participant’s exact words in the order given, pushing towards  the PINs.  Sub-session three is used, if required, on a separate day, to garner more information relevant to the research, using a semi-structured interview technique.


What has been observed is how powerful this interview technique is, to garner information especially when the interviewer is not steering the interview.  How deep the participant goes into their memory when they are relating a particular PIN, determines how detailed the story becomes.  This technique, if used properly, can open up endless possibilities that may not have been considered previously.

2 Responses to “Biographic Narrative Interpretative Method Training”

  1. Sarah

    I may be wrong, but this technique reminds me of one of psycho analysis methods connected with hypnosis. But unlike BNIM, it caused false memories of abuse to appear (especially among women). I think that this method has good perspectives for future. This method may be extremely useful for PhD study in Psychology field.