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Narrative Therapy

Narrative therapy is a respectful and collaborative approach to counselling and community work. It focuses on the stories of people’s lives, and is based on the idea that problems are manufactured in social, cultural, and political contexts. Each person produces the meaning of their life from the stories that are available in these contexts. A wider meaning of narrative therapy relates significantly to a relatively recent way of thinking about the nature of human life and knowledge which has come to be known as ‘postmodernism’. According to postmodernism, there is no one objective “truth” and there are many multiple possible interpretations of any event. Thus, within a narrative approach, our lives are seen as multi-storied vs. single-storied.

Often, by the time a person has come to therapy, the stories they have for themselves and their lives become completely dominated by problems that work to oppress them. These are sometimes called ‘problem-saturated’ stories. Problem-saturated stories can also become identities, e.g. ‘I’ve always been a depressed person’. These kinds of stories can invite a powerful negative influence in the way people see their lives and capabilities, e.g. ‘I’m hopeless’.

Counsellors and therapists interested in narrative ideas and practices collaborate with people in stepping away from problem-saturated and oppressive stories to discovering the ‘untold’ story which includes the preferred accounts of people’s lives (their intentions, hopes, commitments, values, desires, and dreams). Counsellors listen to stories of people’s lives, cultures, and religions, and look for clues of knowledge and skills which might assist people to live in accordance with their preferred way of being.

Sourced from: Narrative Therapy Centre of Toronto

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