Narrative therapy seeks to be a respectful, non-blaming approach to counselling, which centres the person as the expert in their own lives. It views problems as separate from the person and assumes they have many skills, competencies, beliefs, values, commitments and abilities that will assist them to reduce the influence of problems in their lives.
Two significant principles which inform narrative ways of working are: always maintaining a stance of curiosity, and always asking questions to which you genuinely do not know the answers.
Importantly, the person consulting the therapist plays a significant part in mapping the direction of the therapeutic journey. Narrative conversations are always interactive and collaborative. The therapist seeks to understand what is of interest to the person consulting them and how the therapeutic journey is suiting their preferences. A narrative therapist is committed to “meeting YOU where YOU are and taking YOU where YOU are going”.
Narrative therapy is sometimes known as involving ‘re-authoring’ or ‘re-storying’ conversations. As these descriptions suggest, stories are central to an understanding of narrative ways of working. The aim of narrative therapy is for the person to “re-story their life, to restore their life”.
The word ‘story’ has different associations and understandings for each person. Narrative therapists believe that stories consist of: meaningful events – linked in sequence – across time – according to a plot. We all have many stories about our lives and relationships, occurring simultaneously. For example, we have stories about ourselves, our abilities, our struggles, our competencies, our actions, our desires, our relationships, our work, our interests, our conquests, our achievements, our failures.
As humans, we are interpreting beings. We all have daily experiences of events that we seek to make meaningful. The stories we have about our lives are created through linking certain events together in a particular sequence across a time period, and finding a way of explaining or making sense of them. This meaning forms the plot of the story. We give meanings to our experiences constantly as we live our lives. A narrative is like a thread that weaves the events together, forming a story. Got a question, need an answer, Let’s Talk.
Please click on the link below to see where Dan’s idea that “all of life is a story” and his philosophy of Narrative Therapy originated:
Harry Chapin, The Story of a Life:
Please click on the link below to listen/watch Dr. Stephen Madigan (a world-renowned narrative therapist and one of Dan’s teachers) describe how narrative therapy works: