Showing posts with label Narrative Therapy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Narrative Therapy. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

What is Narrative Therapy?

Narrative therapy is a form of therapy that assumes that people are separate from their problems and that they have the ability to change their stories. It is a non-blaming, non-pathological approach that aims to empower people to become the experts in their own lives.

The main ideas of narrative therapy are:

Problems are separate from people.

People have the ability to change their stories.

Narrative therapy is a non-blaming, non-pathological approach.

Narrative therapy aims to empower people to become the experts in their own lives. Narrative therapy is based on the idea that people's lives are made up of stories. These stories can be positive or negative, and they can shape how people see themselves and the world around them. Narrative therapy helps people to identify the stories that they are telling themselves and to explore whether they are helpful or unhelpful. It also helps people to develop new stories that are more positive and empowering.

Narrative therapy is a collaborative approach, and the therapist works with the client to co-create a new story. The therapist does not offer advice or solutions, but rather helps the client to explore their own resources and to find their own solutions.

Narrative therapy has been shown to be effective in treating a variety of problems, including depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. It has also been shown to be helpful in improving relationships and increasing self-esteem.

The Narrative Therapy model as pioneered by Michael White and David Epston has been one of the maps I find helpful in serving people in psychotherapy.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

What is the importance of mentalizing in attachment informed psychotherapy?


In psychotherapy, the activity of "mentalizing" is where the most benefit accrues.
"Mentalizing" is the making sense of things. Socrates said that an unexamined life is not worth living. This examining, to which Socrates refers, is what contemporary psychologists call "mentalizing."
Mentalizing is intimately linked to self understanding, the understanding of others, a sense of agency, and enhancement of social skills.
Mentalizing is a key feature of emotional intelligence which is made up of self knowledge, self regulation, empathy, motivation, and constructive and satisfying interactions with others.
In the model of narrative therapy, the narrative operates at three levels: the landscape of action, the landscape of meaning, and the landscape of identity.
The the landscape of action describes the cast of characters involved in certain activities and events over a period of time. The landscape of action is the plot line.
Superimposed on the landscape of action is the landscape of meaning. After the landscape of action is described, the story is told, one can ask, "What does it mean? What's the moral of the story? What's to be learned from this story? What do you make of it?" This is the therapeutic pay dirt.
At the third level, the landscape of identity, one can consider if this is what happened (the landscape of action), and this is what it means (the landscape of meaning), what, then, am I to think about myself and the kind of world I am living in?
Homo  sapiens are meaning making animals. We have a consciousness. This consciousness is more developed in some than in others. It is more highly developed in people with a secure attachment style. It is less developed in people with an anxious and avoidant styles, and least of all, in people with a disorganized style.
As I like to share with clients in my therapy sessions, "If you can't name it, you can't manage it. So what do you call the phenomenon (thing) we are talking about here." People with a secure attachment style can name it without much trouble. People with an anxious attachment style become flustered and bounce around looking for the right word. People with an avoidant style freeze, ponder, and have a great deal of difficulty finding the right words. People with a disorganized style often panic and become incoherent, change the subject, or rattle on about something unrelated to the topic under discussion.
The ability to reflect on one's own functioning, and the functioning of others, and to learn from the experience and adjust one's way of managing oneself and the interactions with others, is a sign of growth and what is often called "maturity." This ability to reflect and make meaning of one's experience is one of the major benefits of good psychotherapy.
This is article #2 in a series on attachment theory.

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