What is Narrative Therapy?

Updated December 2, 2022 · 2 Min Read

Explore this resource by Best Counseling Degrees to learn all about narrative therapy.

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A unique approach to counseling that separates people from their actual problems is known as narrative therapy. The benefit in this approach is that it allows clients to look at their issues objectively, rather than viewing themselves in a negative manner. This simple distinction can do a world of good for those who internalize their problems or conditions. Keep reading to learn more about the philosophy of bringing narrative into the counseling process, the types of people it can help, how it works and more.

About This Type of Therapy

Therapists who incorporate this type of therapy into their practice believe that people are not their problems. Their professional approach uses theories and techniques that help clients see their issues are not a part of their identities. By gaining this distance, individuals can be more objective about their problems. For example, they are able to come to the conclusion that they may suffer from anxiety, but that they are not necessarily an anxious person. Anxiety doesn't have to be a negative part of their identity. They can also recognize the ways in which their particular issues or conditions may have both served and hindered them. This renewed perspective is potentially empowering and can bring clients to a place where they are able to work with the therapist to eradicate the problematic behavior from their lives.

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What Happens in Therapy Sessions

Talking about your life is very much central to narrative therapy sessions. Your therapist will ask you to share information about the problems that most concern you. The therapist will teach you ways to cope with your presenting issues and will emphasize the importance of changing the messages you give yourself. You'll also be asked to discuss positive character traits and examples from your life. This information will then be used to help guide you in capitalizing on your strengths in order to overcome what's bothering you.

How the Process Works

Each person's life is constructed of a series of various stories. Some stories have more impact on your life than others. The most meaningful narratives work to form your identity. When significant portions of these tales are negative, it can be helpful to work with a therapist to overcome the effects they may have had on your life. A narrative therapist can help you to realize that you are in control of your own life and that you are the most important expert with regard to your life's possibilities. Essentially, the counselor helps you to rewrite your negative stories in a way that lets you create more useful ones that will better serve you.

What to Look for in a Therapist

A narrative therapist can be a licensed professional counselor, social worker or mental health professional who has received in narrative therapies. This training can come from educational certification, workshops or academic programs. You will want to ask any potential counselor to share with you their credentials. It's also important to feel comfortable with the therapist and to trust your instincts regarding how well they will serve your needs.

This form of counseling can be extremely beneficial for clients who have a negative self-image in relation to their problems. If you feel that you fall into this category, narrative therapy may be able to help you.

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