Running Head: Narrative Therapy
Research Paper Israel Escobar Theories in Counseling Families and Individuals
Narrative Therapy Since the field of modern psychology is extremely broad, there are literally dozens if not hundreds of counseling theories. Over the past hundred years many new theories have been developed by psychologists, all with the goal of helping patients in the most effective and efficient way possible. One counseling theory that is gaining recognition more and more is narrative therapy. Narrative therapy was developed by social workers Michael White and David Epston and operates off the base principle that a person is separate from their problems, and the problems do not define a person (Combs, 1996). This paper will provide an overview and history of narrative therapy including what populations the therapy is effective for and less effective for; in addition the paper will present a fictitious case study using narrative therapy and give the author’s personal opinion on narrative therapy. I.
Description of the Theory
As mentioned in the introduction, the basic principle of narrative therapy is that the patient is not defined by their problem. Narrative therapists look at the problems a person is experiencing as separate from their person, and encourage their patient to do the same thing. For example, if a person is an alcoholic, a narrative therapist would encourage that person to focus on their future and not see themself as defined as an alcoholic. Narrative therapy focuses on self-empowerment by getting patients to look at the positives of their situation and their person (Combs, 1996). Patients work to pinpoint the strong parts of their life, as a building block for moving forward and beyond their problems. The word “narrative” in narrative therapy is an especially important concept. Narrative therapy holds “the belief that a person’s identity is formed by our experiences or narratives, which can also be viewed as stories. Because the problem is seen as a separate entity from the person, a therapist can help a client externalize sensitive issues” (Combs, 112). The separation between the narrative and the problems help a patient work to minimize their defenses and work in a more productive way to address the problems.
As opposed to other theories, the process of narrative therapy is a bit more complex, and certainly more comprehensive than many. The idea of externalization, or separating problems from people, is the first step in the process. The patient has to be convinced that they are not their problems, and their problems are not them. Next, the narrative therapist will examine the goals, beliefs, fears, and values a person has and how those factors influence their personal narrative (Morgan, 2000). This step in the process often takes the longest, since it requires the most exploration and discussion. It can take many hours for a patient and their narrative therapist to fully describe all of the factors that influence the narrative, since many of the factors the patient will not even consider. However, once this step in the process is done the patient is able to begin making real progress towards resolving their personal problems and positively impacting their narrative or story. The narrative therapist will begin working with their patient to essentially rewrite the negative areas of their personal narrative in a way that helps resolve the problems.
The reason that the narrative therapy process is effective is because it holds that the person’s narrative is pliable, instead of set in stone. Once the factors are considered and the therapist has helped the person rewrite their narrative with respect to the...
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