This paper will look at the logic of narrative therapy by focusing on 5 major points. This paper will begin by discussing how the narrative approach defines and perceives problems. It will address how narrative therapy views the nature of the relationship between the client and the professional. This paper will look at how problems are solved using the narrative approach. It will also focus on three main techniques used in narrative therapy, which will include externalization, deconstruction and re-authoring. This paper will also include a short narrative critique of the medical model.
The Logic of Narrative Therapy
Narrative therapy is considered postmodern due to the fact that it uses a story telling approach to counseling (Monk, Winslade, Crocket & Epston, 1997). It became a popular form of therapy in the nineties and has gained national recognition (Kelley, 1996). Monk, Winslade, Crocket & Epston (1997) reported that narrative therapy is not interested in discovering the truth about who people are, but are more interested in understanding where people learned these truths about themselves and what role they play in the client's story (Monk, Winslade, Crocket & Epston, 1997).
Problems in narrative therapy are referred to as discourses. Kelley (1996) defined a discourse as truths that the client has come to believe based on exposure to their culture and society. Monk, Winslade, Crocket & Epston (1997) defined discourses as "a cluster of ideas produced within the wider culture" (93). A discourse is when a person thinks that they should act or do a certain thing because that is what society deems acceptable. According to Monk, Winslade, Crocket & Epston (1997), discourses emerge from a variety of places, including family, culture, media etc. and are built up over a long period of time. When a person does not want to go along with the social norm they begin to feel like there is something wrong with them. At that point is generally when the person begins some form of counseling (Monk, Winslade, Crocket & Epston, 1997).
After the problem is identified, the next important step in narrative therapy is to separate the person from the problem, which is known as externalization (Kelley, 1996; Monk, Winslade, Crocket & Epston, 1997). According to Monk, Winslade, Crocket & Epston (1997), externalizing conversations are created with just a subtle change in the counselor's language that promotes a separation between the person and the problem. As a result, clients' inclination to inflict blame on themselves or others begins to lessen (Kelley, 1996). Narrative therapists recommend externalization because it is believed that once the client is able to see the problem separate from themselves it makes it easier for the person to begin fighting the problem rather than fighting themselves (Kelley, 1996). Monk, Winslade, Crocket & Epston (1997) reported that the idea that people are not to blame for their problems is a simple way of thinking. It is a very different belief than most modern forms of therapy that believe that people have to take full responsibility for their problems before they can begin to make changes in their life (Kelley, 1996). Similarly, Gerald (1999) reported that in the medical model of psychotherapy, problems are seen as a disease or disorder. The client is viewed as having a deficit or something wrong with them. The medical model is a cause and effect approach to therapy. The role of the therapist is to find the cause of the problem and then to effectively treat the problem with some form of medication (Gerald, 1999). Narrative therapists do not see client's problems as a cause and effect situation. They focus their attention on both the therapist and the client getting a full understanding of the client's experiences and helping them to see where these problem beliefs came from (Kelley, 1996; Monk, Winslade, Crocket & Epston, 1997). Another important technique used...
References: Gergen, K. J. (1999). An Invitation to social construction. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. [pp. 167-193]
Kelley, P. (1996). Narrative theory and social work treatment. In F.J. Turner (Ed.), Social work treatment (4th ed., pp. 461-479). New York: Free Press.
Monk, G., Winslade, J., Crocket, K., & Epston, D. (1997). Narrative therapy in practice: The archaeology of hope. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. [pp. 3-31 and pp. 82-117]
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