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Rachel Jagger

on 9 September 2013

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Narrative Therapy: a metaphorical journey of story-telling and exploration
Two roads diverged In a wood, and I -
I took the road less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference

Historical Background
Post-Modernism and Social Constructionism

Co-founders of Narrative Therapy
Definitions and Concepts of Personality
Definition of narrative (n), Bing Dictionary
[ nárrətiv ]
1.story: a story or an account of a sequence of events in the order in which they happened
2.process of narrating: the art or process of telling a story or giving an account of something
3.story in literary work: the part of a literary work that is concerned with telling the story
Synonyms: story, tale, account, description, chronicle, history
• “a post-modern, social constructionist approach based on the construct that there is no single truth…individuals have the power to create new meanings and retell their stories to overcome dominant discourses that contribute to their unhappiness…concentrates of a client’s meaning-making and aligns with a qualitative research paradigm” (Ngazimbi, Lambie, & Shillingford, 2008)

• seeks to be a respectful, non-blaming approach to counseling which centers people as the experts in their own lives
• views problems as separate from people and assumes people have many skills, competencies, beliefs, values, commitments and abilities that will assist them to change their relationship with the problems in their lives
• people have expertise in their own lives
• problems are constructed in cultural contexts: including power relationships of race, class, sexual preference, gender and disadvantage (Morgan, 2000)
• the problem is the problem, the person is not the problem…we must “assist clients in separating themselves from the dominant story or problem that they have internalized so that space can be opened for a creation of alternative life stories” (Corey, 2013)

♦“Psychopathology is conceptualized as the client living according to the dominant discourses dictated by society and being unable to challenge this persistent discord…according to Narrative Therapy, mental health is the client’s ability to challenge the dominant discourses and live their lives according to what they see as their strengths” (Ngazimbi, Lambie & Shilling, 2008)

Psychological Health and Pathology
Clinical Assessment Process

♦“Functions such a diagnosis and assessment often grant priority to the practitioner’s ‘truths’ over client’s knowledge about their own lives. The narrative approach gives emphasis to understanding clients’ lived experiences and de-emphasizes efforts to predicts, interpret, and pathologize…narrative practitioners do not usurp the power of the client by taking initiative in taking over another person’s life changes” (Corey, 2013)
Therapeutic Process

Therapist's Function
and Role
♦“It is not uncommon for clients to present initial stories in which they and the problem are fused, as if one and the same” (Corey, 2013)
Therapeutic Techniques & Practice

Externalizing and Deconstruction
"The aim is to separate the person from the identification of the problem. When clients view themselves as “being” the problem, they are limited in the ways they can effectively deal with the problem” (Corey, 2013. p 415)
Video: Raymond's Story
Video: Mark Hayward

Unique Outcomes

"Listening for times when the problem had less or no influence” – for events that stand outside of the dominant story (Morgan, 2000)
Alternative Stories and Re-authoring, leading to Mechanisms of Change
“to help people to remember, reclaim and reinvent a richer, thicker, and more meaningful alternative story” (Corey, 2013). Questions like Given what you’ve learned about yourself, what is the next step you might take? help elicit new possibilities and build on “the competence already present in the person” (Corey, 2013).
Documenting the Evidence
-documents “chronicling the process of the interview and the agreements reached, highlighting meaning or understandings reached in the session and asking a questions that occurred to him since the end of the previous therapy visit….Narrative practitioners believe that new stories take hold only when there is an audience to appreciate and support them” (Corey, 2013).
Multicultural Issues
Through re-authoring the social constructions and identity narratives that clients find problematic…people are able to come to an understanding of how oppressive social practices have had on them – which leads to a new perspective on these dominant themes. (Corey, 2013)

Clients from a particular cultural background may look to the therapist as the expert, elevate the professional’s position, and be expecting advice, guidance, a “solution on how to fix a problem” and may feel hesitant to believe that they have within themselves, the power to resolve problems, using Narrative Therapy (Corey, 2013)

Case Study, Romeo Montague, age 18

Romeo presents himself as an articulate young man with a troubled past. He has experienced prolonged periods of melancholy, followed by intense phases of mania in which he behaves impulsively, explosively, irrationally, and at times, violently.

After a deep depression brought on by an unrequited love, Romeo could barely go on…he refused to socialize and felt as if life was not worth living.

Urged by his friends to crash a masquerade ball held by the House of Capulet, his family’s rivals, he fell madly in love at first sight with Juliet. Romeo’s depression lifted and was followed by a series of impulsive and rebellious actions:
-he arranged a secret and hasty marriage to Juliet
-he trespassed in order to consummate the marriage
-he became involved in a fight with Juliet’s cousin, during which he became insulted and allowed his rage to overcome his senses; killed Tybalt in a duel
-he was banished to the neighbouring city of Mantua for disrupting the peace and breaking societal rules
-when plans for Juliet to follow him to Mantua went awry and he learned of Juliet’s fake “death,” he sees no other options but to take his own life by obtaining poison

At this point, since being banished and living separate from home for the first time, he has his first meeting with a therapist to discuss his problematic thoughts and feelings; that he is doomed, that he is “Fortune’s Fool,” that he cannot think rationally, and that his impulsive thoughts make him feel crazy.

In this first meeting with his therapist, he is encouraged to tell stories about his feelings of urgency from the past, the present and the future using “Externalizing Techniques” which aim to characterize the problem, make connections to and recognize the effects of the problem, to formulate a position on the problem, and to identify his values and contextualize the problem…
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