WHAT IS NARRATIVE THERAPY?

The Narrative Approach focuses on the stories in people’s lives. It is based on the idea that problems are manufactured in social, cultural and political contexts and that we can never forget that the individual is woven into the greater communities that hold them. People produce the meaning of their life from the stories that are available in that context.In a narrative approach, our lives and stories are seen as multi-storied. Often, by the time a person has come to therapy the stories they have for themselves and their lives become completely dominated by the problems that work to oppress them. These “problem-saturated” stories can also become identities (e.g. “I’ve always been a loser”).“Re-authoring” of people’s stories is a collaboration of stepping away from problem saturated stories to discovering the “untold” story which includes the preferred accounts of people’s lives: their intentions, hopes, values, desires and dreams.The opportunity to view our personal history as one story can help us more easily imagine alternative storylines. I have found that incorporating “teaching tales,” poetry, folklore and mythology can also help the individual imagine positive ways of re-authoring their biography. 
“Narrative Therapy is a respectful, collaborative and non-blaming approach to counselling and community work. This way of working is respectful of the knowledges people have about their own lives, their ways of facing challenges, and their hopes for themselves, their families and their future. It is called ‘Narrative Therapy’ because this approach examines the stories we tell about ourselves and the stories others tell about us. These stories assist us to make sense of the world, and powerfully shape the way we are seen in our own eyes and the eyes of society. This shapes our current and future responses and actions.The Narrative approach sees problems as separate to people and communities. Problems such as anxiety or depression are not the whole story of someone’s life, but often these labels impact identity and convince the person or their family that they do not have the skills to get through difficulties. During the therapeutic conversation, the impact of the problem is explored and acknowledged. In considering stories of skills, knowledges, hopes and values, new options for reducing the influence of the problem become more visible, and therefore, available.”   Reference: Morgan, A. (2000). What is Narrative Therapy: An easy to read introduction. Dulwich Centre Publications: Adelaide, SA. See the Dulwich Centre website

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