Narrative Therapy

Narrative Therapy Theoretical Approach

The Narrative Therapy theoretical approach was developed by family therapist David Epson and social worker Michael White in the 1980s. This theory was also influenced by philosophers and sociologists as well. Narrative Therapy looks at present problems and the impact of these problems. The focus is the problem and not the person. With Narrative Therapy: the problem is not the person (it is external of the person), and the focus is more on the stories we have told ourselves. Narrative Therapy is a very helpful approach in that we are separating the problem and the person from each other which really helps to externalize the issue right from the start of therapy. I also like the Narrative Therapy theory because it takes into consideration social constructs and asks the question: ¨Where do we get the influences that affect our story? ¨. The word ¨story¨ is used in the vocabulary of Narrative Therapy as it is very much about the story that we have and becoming the author of a new story which may include rewriting our previous story as we heal over time. Identity is important in this theory and has a strong social flavor in that identity is seen as primarily social and can be changed according to the choices we make – rather than more modern-day concepts of identity that point toward more biological determined self ex: ¨true nature¨, but that our identity primarily has social influences, often in which the client can feel injustices and powerlessness. Unique outcomes are a term that is referred to as something we thought was a problem and helped us out at times. These could be considered as highlights; encouraging a different perspective that fosters resilience or a different attitude. The role of the therapist is to investigate the story (and values, skills, knowledge, and social impacts of the client) with the client and hold a safe space to do so. The goals of Narrative Therapy are to re-author the story – how empowering! To have a new story that is more authentic or true. It is a personal story that the client has the personal power to write themselves with the therapist´s help, however, the therapist is the main witness of the client´s new story. This is so beautiful because the client has an audience or witness to the birth of a new more authentic story that is the outcome of their healing progress and to have their new story witnessed reinforces the new story in the Narrative Therapy perspective. Through this Narrative lens, change happens through externalizing the problem and deconstructing the cultural/social story (not family of origin).