Monday, June 27, 2016

Narrative Therapy and the danger of the single story

I have had a long interest in what is called Narrative Therapy. The basic premise in the Narrative Therapy model is that every person's life is worth a story. This story not only functions as a narrative of events, activities, and people who have been a part of the person's experience over time, but the story is also the lens and the filter through which further perceptions are observed and interpreted.

People come for therapy when they feel stuck in their lives. Their old story is not working any more, and a Narrative Therapist helps the client "re-author" the story of their life along a line that is more preferable.

In my review of narrative practice in an online course at the Dulwich Centre for Narrative Therapy in Australia I came across this wonderful TED talk by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie which was given in 2009 entitled, "The Danger Of The Single Story."

The stories of our lives which influence us both positively and negatively often are not of our making but imposed on us by people in powerful positions in our lives who define and interpret "reality" for us. Often our assumption of "the truth" of these stories is unconscious until we sense that they might be wrong and what Alice Miller calls "an enlightened witness" comes into our lives invited by us, or sometimes uninvited, and helps us challenge them.

When we pour 6 ounces of liquid out of a 12 ounce glass and we are asked, "Is the glass half full or half empty," we begin to understand how our stories influence and shape our experience of the "reality" which we have created for ourselves.

I hope you enjoy Chimamanda Adichie's talk on "The Danger Of The Single Story."

I am developing a training on Narrative Therapy for Mental Health and Substance Abuse professionals. If you would like more information about this training, please email me at

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