Bangkok Hypnosis

About Narrative Therapy

Posted by Sun on August 21, 2011

Narrative therapy is a respectful and collaborative approach to counselling and community work. It focuses on the stories of people’s lives and is based on the idea that problems are manufactured in social, cultural and political contexts.  Each person produces the meaning of their life from the stories that are available in these contexts.  A wider meaning of narrative therapy relates significantly to a relatively recent way of thinking about the nature of human life and knowledge which has come to be known as ‘postmodernism’ – which believes there is no one objective ‘truth’ and that there are many multiple possible interpretations of any event.  Thus within a narrative approach, our lives are seen as multi-storied vs. single-storied.


Stories in a ‘narrative’ context are made up of events, linked by a theme, occurring over time and according to a plot. A story emerges as certain events are privileged and selected out over other events as more important or true.  As the story takes shape, it invites the teller to further select only certain information while ignoring other events so that the same story is continually told.  David Epston sees these stories as both describing and shaping people’s perspectives on their lives, histories and futures.  These stories may be inspiring or oppressive.


Often by the time a person has come to therapy the stories they have for themselves and their lives become completely dominated by problems that work to oppress them.  These are sometimes called ‘problem-saturated’ stories. Problem-saturated stories can also become identities (e.g. I’ve always been a depressed person.  Or seeing an adolescent as a young offender vs. a young person who has been in trouble with the law).  These kinds of stories can invite a powerful negative influence in the way people see their lives and capabilities (e.g. “I’m hopeless”).  Counsellors and therapists interested in narrative ideas and practices collaborate with people in stepping away from problem saturated and oppressive stories to discovering the ‘untold’ story which includes the preferred accounts of people’s lives (their intentions, hopes, commitments, values, desires and dreams).  Counsellors are listening to stories of people’s lives, cultures and religions and looking for clues of knowledges and skills which might assist people to live in accordance with their preferred way of being.


In essence, within a narrative therapy approach, the focus is not on ‘experts’ solving problems, …it is on people discovering through conversations, the hopeful, preferred, and previously unrecognized and hidden possibilities  contained within themselves and unseen story-lines.  This is what Michael White would refer to as the ‘re-authoring’ of people’s stories and lives.




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