Narrative Therapy is a relatively new form of psychotherapy developed in the 70’s and 80’s by Michael White and David Epston. Narrative therapy focuses on the idea that humans are interpreting beings and we seek to make daily events meaningful. The internal stories we make about our lives are created by linking events together in a particular sequence across a period of time. We then seek to find a way to explain or make sense of them.
This forms the plot of our personal story. We often have simultaneous stories about ourselves, our abilities, our struggles, our actions, our desires, our relationships, our work, our interests, our achievements, and failures.
Often the way we approach problems in our lives are dictated by our personal narrative. Narrative therapy focuses on helping you identify your values, and the skills and knowledge you have to live by these values. In this way we can effectively confront the problems we face. This therapy seeks to teach us that the person is not the problem, the problem is the problem, and learning to separate identity from the issues we are facing.
The therapist’s goal is to help the patient co-author a new narrative by challenging the dominant narratives that might be shaping the patient’s life in destructive ways. Sessions aim to negate the idea of a determined, fixed or “true” personal identity, rather acknowledging that identity is a social construct and can be changed by the patient. This allows us to create identities that are helpful to our lives and facing our problems.
Narrative therapy also focuses on externalising conversations that allow us to confront problems and change their narratives, rather than let the problem dictate our personal narrative. Naming the problem allows us to assess how it affects our lives, how it operates and works in our lives, and our earliest history with the problem in order to determine our relationship with it. The therapist aims to give the patient space to develop their own solutions to problems, which means they’re much more committed to implementing these solutions. Narrative therapy leads us to find alternative paths in lives and acknowledge that, while our problems may be severe, they have not destroyed us. We are the authors of our change.
At Creative Healing we offer this respectful, non-blaming approach to psychotherapy to individuals and family counselling sessions. Please contact us today for more information.