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Narrative Therapy

The problem is the problem, the person is not the problem.

-Michael White and David Epston

When people see themselves as the problem, they are not effectively able to tackle the problem
Help people re-remember, reclaim, and re-invent a richer, thicker, more meaningful alternative story
Questions that Invite a Different Sort of Story of

Role of the Counsellor

Transparent with client

Respect values and ethics
Listen non-judgmentally
Reflect on power dynamics within practice
Elicit strength related stories with the client

Narrative therapy does not have a formula

Coauthoring or sharing of authority
Clients are experts of their own lives
Clients are the senior authors in constructing
an alternative narrative
Generates the story and creates movement to
make it happen

Am I more interested in helping this person discover a

story that will work for him or her, or in fulfilling some
personal agenda that has to do with my own life?

Therapeutic Alliance

If I were more sensitive to the situation that my clients

are in and less tightly bound to a model of therapy, what might
I notice that has gone unseen?
If, instead of being viewed as stubborn or resistant, I
saw this client as being stuck in a childhood story in which he
or she is afraid, how would my story about the client change?

The most powerful therapeutic process I know is to contribute to rich story development.
-Michael White

Process of Narrative Therapy

-Personify the problem; give it a name
-Investigate the disruptive, dominating, or discouraging parts
-Invite the client to see a different perspective

-Find exceptions to the problem

-Find evidence to support the clients competence
-Envision a plan for the future
-Client lives the new life story

Externalization of Deconstruction: Deconstructing the power of a narrative, separate client from identification with the
problem. When clients see themselves as being the problem, it is difficult to effectively sort out the problem. Externalizing
conversations 1) Map the influence of the problem 2) Map the influence of the persons life back to the problem

Narrative Letters

Documenting the Evidence

Stories become transformative only in

their performance. - E. Bruner

Introduction relates back to previous session summarize

the influence the problem has on client pose questions to
client regarding the emerging story expresses the unique
outcomes from the interaction important to include the
clients words

References and Suggested Resources

Chang, J., & Nylund, D. (2013). Narrative and solution-focused therapies: A twenty-year retrospective. Journal of Systemic Therapies, 32(2), 72-88.
Madigan, S. (2011). Narrative therapy: Theories of psychotherapy series. J. Carlson & M. Englar-Carlson (Eds.). Washington, DC: American Psychological
Parry, A., & Doan, R. E. (1994). Story re-visions: Narrative therapy in the postmodern world. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.
Narrative Approaches:
Narrative Therapy with Children: View/1778835

Questions for Re-Authoring Conversations*

Every time we ask a question, were generating a possible version of a life. -David Epston
Relative Influence Questions
Mapping the influence of the problem in the persons/familys life and relationships
How does worry feature in your work life? In your life beyond work?
When worry is having its way with you, what happens to your dreams for the future?
Mapping the influence of the person/family related to the problem
Are there ways in which you have unknowingly given worry the upper hand in your life?
Have there been people or situations in your life that have helped you to keep worry central to
your life?
Unique Outcome Questions
Have there been times when you have thought-even for a moment-that you might step out of
worrys prison? What did this landscape free of worry look like?
Can you imagine a time in the future that you might defy worry and give yourself a bit of a
Unique Account Questions
How were you able to get yourself to school and thereby defy worries that want to keep you to
themselves at home alone?
How might you stand up to worrys pressure to get you worried again, to refuse its requirements
of you?
Could your coming here today be considered a form of radical disobedience to worry?
Unique Re-Description Questions
What does this tell you about yourself that you otherwise would not have known?
By affording yourself some enjoyment, do you think in any way that you are becoming a more
enjoyable person?
Of all the people in your life who might confirm this newly developing picture of yourself as
worrying less, who might have noticed this first?
Unique Possibility Questions
Where do you think you will go next now that you have embarked on having a little fun and
taking a couple of little risks in your life?
Is this a direction you see yourself taking in the days/weeks/years to come?
Unique Circulation Questions
Is there anyone you would like to tell about this new direction you are taking?
Who do you think would be most excited to learn of these new developments?
Would you be willing to put them in the picture?
What do you think I am appreciating about you as I hear how you have been leaving worry
behind and have recently taken up with a bit of fun and risk?
Preference Questions
Is this your preference for the best way for you to live or not? Why?
Consulting Your Consultants Questions
Given your expertise in the life-devouring ways of worry, what have you learned about its
practices that you might want to warn others about?
As a veteran of anti-worry and all that the experience has taught you, what counter-practices of
fun and risk would you recommend to other people struggling with worry?

* Madigan, S. (2011). Narrative therapy: Theories of psychotherapy series. J. Carlson & M. Englar-Carlson (Eds.). Washington, DC: American
Psychological Association.