Founder, Description, Philosophy

Narrative therapy is an approach that focuses on the client’s stories (narratives) the client’s tell about themselves and their histories and their way of making meaning out of life events.  It explores the language that people use to construct and maintain their problems. The basic premise to this approach is that people are meaning makers, meaning that people’s lives and relationships are based on and shaped by the stories they develop to give meaning to their experiences. Narrative therapy involves understanding the stories or themes that have shaped a person’s life. Out of all the experiences a person has lived, what experiences have held the most meaning? What choices, intentions, relationships have been most important. This form of therapy focuses on putting together the plot which connects the dots  of each client’s life story. This form of therapy assumes that people have the skills, competencies, beliefs, values, and abilities to help themselves to reduce the influence of problems in their own lives. The approach was developed in the 1970s and 1980s by psychotherapist, Michael White and family therapist, David Epston.

What type of problems is this approach used to treat and what populations can it serve?

Narrative therapy can be used with individuals, couples, and families for a variety of issues.  This form of therapy can be used to promote understanding of many problems that individuals are experiencing in their lives and can help explore how life experiences have shaped the client and influenced how they view themselves in the present day.

What does this approach look like in practice? What are some types of interventions?

Narrative therapy is a non-blaming approach which views people as the experts of their own lives. A narrative therapist will be interested in the stories the client tells about their lives, the stories they carry with them about who they are and what is most important to them. The sessions focus on unearthing these stories, understanding them, and working on re-telling them in different and more constructive ways.

 

Sources:

Sween, E. (1998). The one-minute question: What is narrative therapy. International Journal of Narrative Therapy and Community Work. Dulwich Center.

Dulwich Centre: www.Dulwichcentre.com.au