A short introduction to narrative therapy
Narrative Therapy is non-blaming, respectful and sees people as experts in their own lives. A narrative therapy conversation is influential in working with the person to move away from the often repeated list of difficulties and concerns to consider other ways of viewing what’s happening in their lives.
Bringing descriptions to the fore
In narrative therapy we ask a person how descriptions of them effect their lives and whether those effects fit in with what is important to them. The conversation is externalised, this means the description is separate from the person. So questions might be “How does ADHD work in your life? ”; “How would you describe this ADHD? ”; “Do you have a name for this ADHD? ”; “Are there times when ADHD isn’t around? ”. These conversations create a space between a person and a description so that the person can consider their relationship with that description rather than become that description- a change from being anxious to anxiety being around in your life.
Narrative therapy conversations work to build rich descriptions of the particular details of each person’s experience. It makes no assumptions about what particular descriptions mean. The only way you can know what grief is like for one person is to ask them about it, but it is to ask in a way that gives them more knowledge and expertise in living their life in a way that fits in with their commitments and principles.
We’re not just one story
Narrative Therapy stands against a totalising story that can take over the way a person is viewed and the way a person sees themselves. Totalising stories can become the only conversation that surrounds a person especially when that story presents the person as a problem. Narrative therapy sees lives as multi storied and talks with people about these other stories in their lives, their preferred stories, the history of these stories, the people who would know about these different stories that have been hidden by the totalising stories.
A key principle of narrative therapy is curiosity, asking questions to which we genuinely don’t know the answer. The direction of the conversation is unknown, it is led by the person not by the therapist and the therapist is checking out how the conversation is going for them and whether there is a different question that might be helpful.
Do you work in this way? Would you be interested and linking up with other EPs who do? Would you be interested in finding out more about narrative therapy? Please do comment below.