Narrative Therapy

Everyone has a story. Therapy provides a safe place for you to tell your story; externalize the problem. Some of the goals of narrative therapy are to tell your story to the best of your ability, tell your story with intense details, possibly share your story with a supportive person, look for alternatives to the story, and then retelling the story with a different outcome. This is a wonderful tool to use with children and adolescents as well. By using the client’s language, highlighting their strengths, and identifying what their role in the story is/was, you are laying the groundwork for creating a new, fresh outlook. Through telling your story, you elicit feelings and emotions that may be affecting your life currently. This is where the client is encouraged to recognize how the body reacts to unpleasant feelings, such as racing heart, flushed face, or sweaty palms. They begin to associate their thoughts and behaviors to the physical signs their body is giving them. Relaxation techniques are also introduced to help control the physical symptoms of anxiety.

In addition, this technique can be wonderful to use in groups, with people who have experienced a similar trauma or loss. At the Social Work Conference in 2008, Alison Salloum, Ph.D, from the University of South Florida, shared her research that she conducted in New Orleans with child survivors of Hurricane Katrina. She created a wonderful alternative to traditional narrative therapy, combining techniques of narrative therapy and Cognitive Behavioral therapy to help children reduce their post traumatic stress symptoms left from the trauma of the storm. Some research has been conducted about using narrative therapy with PTSD survivors. It was found that by telling your story, hearing your story out loud, sharing your story with someone else, and then creating a new or better ending for your story, you begin to create a mindset that you can define your story, your story does not define you.