Narrative Therapy

What is Narrative Therapy?

Narrative therapy is a respectful and collaborative approach to working with people that accesses a person’s abilities and skills in standing up to problems that have shown up in his or her life.

Some of the beliefs I hold that influence my work are guided by Narrative Therapy principles.

-A person is separate from a problem.

A narrative therapist allies with a person to help that person stand up to, or change the relationship with, a problem that has come into that person’s life. The therapist refrains from thinking or speaking of a person as “the problem.”

To assist in this, the therapist uses language that externalizes the problem. For example, if a child has been disruptive in school and the family reports, “James is a troublemaker,” the therapist might ask, “When did Trouble first show up in your life?”

-People are the experts in their own lives.

A narrative approach relies on the sincere belief that people have strengths, abilities, values, and skills that can help them to stand up to the effects of problems in their lives.

To help a person reduce the influence of a problem, the therapist may ask a question such as, “How were you able to keep Depression away for a time?” thereby calling on a person to recognize the abilities that have assisted them in taking on life’s challenges.

-A person’s life is multi-storied.

In coming to therapy, a person may have a problem-saturated story of his or her life. A narrative therapist operates from a belief that the problem story is only one of many stories about the person. There may be stories of strength and possibility that have been hidden or overshadowed by the problem, and the narrative therapist will help a person to uncover and reclaim these preferred stories of identity. This will help to reduce the effects of the problem story.

-People may be experiencing problems that are socially constructed.

A narrative therapist is curious about the impact of stories and expectations of a child or a family that come from a larger cultural context. The therapist will help bring those influences to light and help a person to decide if those ideas fit with how one would like to be seen and how one prefers to live one's life.

More information on narrative therapy:

If you are interested in learning more about narrative therapy ideas and practices, below are some links that you may find helpful.

Commonly asked questions about narrative approacheshttp://dulwichcentre.com.au/common-questions-narrative-therapy.html

The One-Minute Question: What is Narrative Therapy?http://www.narrativetherapylibrary.com/media/downloadable/files/links/g/9/g982sween.pdf

Beginning to Use a Narrative Approach in Therapyhttp://www.narrativetherapylibrary.com/media/downloadable/files/links/0/2/021Morgan_2.pdf

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