Narrative Therapy: Concepts and Applications

“A story or story is something informed or recounted; extra narrowly, one thing informed or recounted within the type of a causally-linked set of occasions; account; story, the telling of a occurring or related collection of happenings, whether or not true or fictitious” (Denning, 2006).

Your life is a story, counted and recounted from many alternative views, and by numerous individuals. There are settings, themes, characters and plots – similar to in any film, e-book, historic account or legendary fable.

On this article we overview the strategy of Narrative Remedy and the way it may be successfully utilized by counsellors to help people enhance their lives.

Fundamentals of Narrative Remedy

The Narrative Remedy is an strategy to counselling that centres individuals because the consultants in their very own lives. This remedy intends to view issues as separate entities to individuals, assuming that the person’s set of abilities, expertise and mindset will help him/her scale back the affect of issues all through life. This therapeutic strategy intends to put the person in each the protagonist and writer roles: switching the view from a slim perspective to a systemic and extra versatile stance.

Systemic and versatile stance? Sure. The intention is to assist shoppers realise what forces are influencing their lives and to deal with the constructive features of the ‘play’. In lots of occasions of our lives, we are likely to deal with specific issues and ignore others. Analysing our lives as a play, or a system, helps us perceive the totally different forces and roles which might be influencing our behaviour. This in flip provides us flexibility to invoke the mandatory modifications for enchancment.

“The merchandise of our narrative schemes are ubiquitous in our lives: they fill our cultural and social atmosphere. We create narrative descriptions for ourselves and for others about our personal previous actions, and we develop storied accounts that give sense to the habits of others. We additionally use the narrative scheme to tell our selections by establishing imaginative “what if” eventualities. On the receiving finish, we’re continuously confronted with tales throughout our conversations and encounters with the written and visible media. We’re informed fairy tales as kids, and browse and talk about tales at college.” (Polkinghorne, 1988)

Merging a well-known set of occasions (one’s life) to a well-known construction (a story story) is a helpful technique. The emotional, cognitive and religious views of an individual are normally mixed with the intention to derive that means to an occasion. In lots of cases, one or two views will prevail over the opposite(s), and this may depend on the actual situation and the person’s character traits.

For example, we will examine the angle of two individuals who have totally different ranges of emotional intelligence. Based on Coleman (1998) “mental and emotional intelligence specific the exercise of various elements of the mind. The mind relies solely on the workings of the neocortex, the extra not too long ago advanced layers on the high of the mind. The emotional facilities are decrease within the mind, within the extra historical subcortex.” Thus, people which might be extra ‘emotionally clever’ will draw totally different conclusions, and behave otherwise in sure conditions.

That is solely an instance of attainable disparities in notion and decision-making. It’s the protagonist responding to the setting, the characters, the theme and plot.

Methods and Aims

“The methods that narrative therapists use should do with the telling of the story. They might look at the story and search for different methods to inform it otherwise or to know it in different methods. In doing so, they discover it useful to place the issue exterior of the person, thus externalizing it. They search for distinctive outcomes: constructive occasions which might be in distinction to a problem-saturated story.” (Sharf, 2004)

Externalising the Downside

In Narrative Remedy the issue turns into the antagonist of the story. Sure behaviours are based mostly on specific ‘unhealthy’ or ‘undesired’ traits – corresponding to lack of persistence, aggressiveness, and so on. Thus, they’re approached as not part of the consumer however as an opposing power which must be ‘defeated’. An instance could be a toddler that has a really unhealthy temperament and tends to be aggressive to different children at college and his dad and mom. The kid would possibly really feel responsible for his temperament and blame it on himself (“I do not know… it’s the manner I’m…”). The counsellor will work with him in the direction of isolating that undesired trait (aggressiveness) and inserting it as an exterior trait – not a attribute of the person.

This technique helps shoppers re-construct their very own tales in a manner which can scale back the incidence of the issue with the intention to eradicate unfavorable outcomes and reinforce private growth and achievement. The protagonist turns into the writer and re-writes the story constructively.

Distinctive Outcomes

If a narrative is stuffed with issues and unfavorable occasions, the counsellor will try and determine the distinctive constructive outcomes. When exploring distinctive constructive outcomes within the story, the counsellor will help the consumer in redeveloping the narrative with a deal with these distinctive outcomes. This assists the consumer in empowering him/herself by making a notion that these distinctive outcomes can prevail over the issues. Take into consideration this analogy: you’re a novel author. You got a novel to overview and publish the way in which you favor. You will have learn it and located it usually poor, however there have been some attention-grabbing concepts which you preferred. You chose these concepts, and re-write the novel round them. You may make a flawed story develop into a bestseller.

Different Narratives

The main target of Narrative Remedy is to discover the strengths and constructive features of a person via his or her narrative. Subsequently, the principle goal of this therapeutic strategy is to enhance the individual’s perspective internally (reflective) and externally (in the direction of the world and others). Different narratives are a easy solution to relate to this idea. This system works together with distinctive outcomes. How? The person will reconstruct a private story utilizing distinctive outcomes, subsequently, specializing in the constructive features of a earlier story with the intention to obtain a desired final result. This course of relies on the premise that any individual can frequently and actively re-author their very own life.

By creating various views on a story (or occasion throughout the narrative) the counsellor is ready to help the consumer in bringing a few new narrative which can assist fight the ‘issues’. That is just like Cognitive Behavioural Remedy because it goals to create a constructive perspective of an occasion.

Boundaries of Narrative Remedy

Regardless of being a broadly used strategy, notably when mixed with different therapeutic approaches, Narrative Remedy has sure boundaries or limitations. In lots of events, numerous shoppers could count on the therapist to behave because the skilled, as an alternative of getting to ‘conduct’ the dialog themselves. For that reason, Narrative Remedy may be difficult when the person will not be articulate. Insecurity, mental capability and different points might additionally undermine the expression of the person via a story.

One other frequent boundary of Narrative Remedy is the shortage of recipe, agenda or method. This strategy is grounded in a philosophical framework, and generally can develop into a very subjective or broadly interpretative course of.

The Main Position

A very powerful side of Narrative Remedy is to empower the consumer. Inserting the consumer as an skilled, and understanding his/her story as an alternative of trying to foretell it, signifies the therapist’s mindset. The thought is to emphasize the therapeutic relationship, particularly the therapist’s attitudes. This standpoint encompasses most of the necessary features of fine interpersonal communication, corresponding to: demonstration of care, curiosity, respectful curiosity, openness, empathy, and fascination.

As soon as this collaborative relationship has been established, the counsellor and the consumer can transfer ahead and work on learn how to enhance the outcomes of the narrative:

“As soon as upon a time… there was an optimistic, content material and productive individual…”

Coleman, D. (1998). Working with Emotional Intelligence. (1st Ed.). London: Bloomsbury Publishing.
Denning, S. (2004). Steve Denning: The web site for enterprise and organizational storytelling. (
Polkinghorne, D. (1988). Narrative Realizing and the Human Sciences. Albany N.Y.: State College of New York Press
Sharf, R. (2004). Theories of Psychotherapy & Counselling. (third Ed.). Pacific Grove, CA: Thomson Studying.

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Source by Pedro Gondim