Family Counseling Approach - Narrative Therapy

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Family Counseling Approach – Narrative Therapy
Kristi Sabbides Moos
Liberty University
Marriage and Family Counseling I
May 13, 2011
Dr. Suhad Sadik, Instructor
Narrative therapy focuses on helping clients gain access to preferred story lines about their lives and identities and takes the place of previous negative and self-defeating narratives about themselves. An overview of the Social Construction Model, Narrative Therapy, is presented, as well as poststrucuralism, deconstructionism, self-narratives, cultural narratives, therapeutic conversations, ceremonies, letters and leagues in addition to several facets of narrative therapy. Personal integration of faith in this family counseling approach is also discussed.


Narrative therapy falls within the Social Construction Model. In this type of therapy, the therapist is not central to the process, but rather influential to the client. The therapist helps the client internalize and create new stories within themselves and draw new assumptions about themselves by opening themselves up to future stories. This enables the client to not focus on the negative narratives that have defined their lives, but rather on future positive stories that can re-define their lives. To narrative therapists, the problem is the problem and the client is not the problem. Externalizing the problem is usually how therapy begins, therefore defining the problem and getting it out in the open. Narrative therapies typically are in the form of questioning to break down the problem and create alternative narratives to connect the new story line to future options.

Narrative Therapy

According to Daniel (2009), a central element in many forms of therapy is narrative articulation of a client’s experiences. Goldenberg & Goldenberg (2008) state that Narrative Therapy centers on the “narrative metaphor – the idea that our sense of reality is organized and maintained through the stories by which we circulate knowledge about ourselves and the world we inhabit” (p. 365). Clients weave these stories and events throughout life to make sense of why they live their lives the way they do. Stories “about ourselves, our abilities, our competencies, our actions, our relationships, our achievements, and our failures” (p. 365) explain actions and dominant stories impact future lives. Families frequently construct negative stories and self-defeating narratives about their lives and give justification on why they are unable to do things differently. In order for change to take place, clients need to learn to consider alternate ways of examining assumptions, values and meanings of life experiences that dominate views of themselves and their problems (Goldenberg & Goldenberg, 2008). “In short, they need to rewrite their future story lines and actively change or reshape their lives” (p. 365). The therapists join families to explore more rewarding options for living their lives. In therapy, conversations are exchanged in a non-confrontational, non-blaming way. Clients are the experts in their own lives with skills to construct more positive stories (Goldenberg & Goldenberg, 2008). When new outlooks are explored, new ways of behaving are developed. Different meanings can be drawn from the same event. If the event is changed and broken down, and the meaning is altered, a new interpretation of the event can take place, thereby replacing an old negative view. A new story that is dominant can reshape a person’s attitudes, outlook and future behavior (Goldenberg & Goldenberg). In a case presented by Rennie (1994), clients recollected stories of the lives through narrative therapy. “It has been argued in therapy that the main activity in therapy is the repair of the client’s life story” (Rennie, 1994, p. 234). The analysis of the study revealed that storytelling is a primary way of dealing with an inner...
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