Understanding Narrative Therapy: A Journey Through Our Stories

What is Narrative Therapy?

Narrative therapy can be used to understand the stories of our lives. The events, linked in sequence, across time can be a way of telling and retelling our stories. A way of making meaning to our life stories is through well-worn tracks across certain parts of life and leaving other parts out. We have stories about ourselves, skills, abilities, life lessons, relationships, grief, challenges, achievements, and failures.

The well-worn tracks can be events of significance. These may be more dominant than the less significant. These not selected parts may be equally, or even more significant. The dominant story may influence meaning making of past or future events.

Our stories can shape our lives:

  • through the decisions we make
  • what we may be able to do
  • and what we may struggle with.

Incorporating alternative stories into our narrative opens the possibility to thicken our stories. We can expand our awareness and acceptance of what may have been denied or avoided.

Loss and Grief

The dominant and alternative story is relevant to loss and grief counselling. For instance, often the bereaved are left with strong feelings of guilt because they feel that they did not do enough to prevent the death. At times, these feelings act as roadblocks which prevent the normal grieving process. The bereaved become stuck in their grief. There are many counselling interventions in Narrative Therapy that fit very well with work on loss and grief.

Clutter and Hoarding

If you feel overcommitted, disorganised or have hoarding tendencies, narrative therapy can be a way to work with cluttter and hoarding. Narrative therapy is a respectful and non-blaming form of counselling. It acknowledges the person as the experts in their own lives. The person is not the problem. The problem is the problem.