What Is Narrative Therapy & The Benefits

Updated June 10, 2021

Medically Reviewed By: Aaron Horn

Various forms of psychotherapy have existed for quite some time. Many people have also noted the benefits of psychotherapy, asserting its superiority over more controversial treatment forms. However, many forms of psychotherapy are best applicable to certain situations and ailments.

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Narrative therapy is defined as a form of psychotherapy, which "separates the person from the problem and encourages people to rely on their own skill sets to minimize the problems that exist in their everyday lives." Countless people have heard of narrative therapy at one point or another and wondered whether or not it would suit them. However, before one can determine whether or not narrative therapy is in their best interest, they should first have the security of this version of psychotherapy and all that it entails.

A Detailed Overview Of Narrative Therapy

In a nutshell, narrative therapy separates patients from their problems, thus providing an avenue for them to tackle the issues at hand and gain a more objective, critical perspective. According to Psychology Today, this form of therapy allows individuals to determine the true impacts of their problems, change their future for the better, and clarify their goals.

How Does Narrative Therapy Work?

Good Therapy affirms narrative therapy's penchant for helping people understand that they can employ their innate skills, talents, and strengths to better their lives and bring about change. In essence, patients are encouraged to look at the upsides of a perceived problem and determine how that problem may be benefiting them. Depending on the issue at hand, this can be somewhat of a challenging feat. However, it is not impossible.

For instance, an individual with marital issues may view this as a serious issue and understandably. However, the afflicted person will be encouraged to examine their marriage issues' potential upsides when undergoing narrative therapy. Someone who struggles to communicate with their spouse may later realize that the distress over communication issues manifests the love they have for their partner. This love can then serve as the motivating factor for the husband or wife to make a certain modification to strengthen their marriage and connect with their spouse.

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In most cases and situations, the problem is usually not as bad as one's perception of the problem. Even when the issue is significant, the individual's perception can either make circumstances better or worse. This can be difficult for people to remember in the heat of the moment. Still, narrative therapy thrives on allowing patients to gain perspective, pinpoint the upsides, and then advantageously tackle their problems.

What Are Some Regularly Used Narrative Therapy Practices?

One of the most common practices used during narrative therapy occurs when the therapist encourages their patient to tell their story. According to Positive Psychology Program, telling one's story not only establishes a narrative but also allows the patient to heal, establishes their purpose, and discovers the value in the experiences they've had.

Another common practice employed as part of narrative therapy is known as the externalization technique. The practice above encourages the patient to view their ailment as a separate entity instead of a part of themselves. For example, an individual who has a short fuse may regard themselves as an angry person. However, with the externalization technique, the therapist helps the patient view anger as the problem instead of perceiving himself or herself as the problem.

Everyone gets angry at one point or another, and a good narrative therapist would never tell the patient that he or she should not experience normal emotions. However, the patient will be encouraged to develop certain strategies to handle said anger or pinpoint certain situations or scenarios that cause the anger to flare and then remedy them.

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Next on the list of narrative therapy practices comes deconstruction. As the name suggests, the deconstruction technique occurs when the afflicted individual works with their therapist to dissect their issue. Not only does breaking down the problem make it easier to tackle, but it also allows both the patient and the therapist to discover the root or underlying causes that could be enabling or feeding the problem on the surface.

The Benefits Of Narrative Therapy

There are many benefits associated with narrative therapy. Those who are willing to work with their narrative therapists will inevitably experience psychological and emotional upsides.

Self-Awareness

One of the most apparent benefits of narrative therapy is self-awareness. Externalization requires the patient to separate themselves from the problem(s) at hand. Not only does this technique ease the burden of reaching viable solutions, but it also allows the individual to assess themselves better. They can analyze their habits, strengths, weaknesses, and patterns and determine whether the things above are better or worse.

Self-awareness is an important characteristic that every individual should have if they are serious about improving their quality of life. Ultimately, each person's decisions, whether excellent or poor, determine how well they fare in their life. Decisions moreover impact individuals' environments, relationships, employment, socioeconomic status, and much more. A healthy amount of self-awareness can work miracles on the road to recovery.

Personal Responsibility

Increased personal responsibility is another perk of narrative therapy. As previously noted, patients are routinely prompted to assess their actions, habits, and decisions. This breed of self-awareness also encourages responsibility as the individual begins to observe patterns between their choices and the good or bad consequences that ensue. During narrative therapy, the patient may have to make certain changes or modifications to better their quality of life. Successful lifestyle changes inherently require a degree of personal responsibility.

Future Success

While success certainly means different things to different people, narrative therapy inherently revolves around helping individuals solve their problems. Problem-solving abilities are critical in all aspects of life. People who can enact solutions are considerably more likely to get further in life than their less aware counterparts.

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In most cases, people who undergo narrative therapy are doing so to accomplish at least one goal. Although goals vary from person to person, achieving a said goal is a degree of success in and of itself. The positive feelings that accompany successes can and often do later lead to greater successes in life.

A Final Word

Despite the techniques, practices, and many benefits of narrative therapy, many people struggle to seek professional help. Far too often, counseling, therapy, and other forms of care are looked down upon.

Some individuals may avoid it out of shame. Sometimes professional assistance is stigmatized in certain families or communities. In other cases, the afflicted person may tell themselves that they alone are strong or capable enough to fight their own battles and deal with their own issues. While this stance is proactive and assertive, even the strongest, most capable individuals need help sometimes.

Narrative therapy is ultimately about problem-solving and allowing the patient to identify their abilities and strengths while separating themselves from the issue at hand to be solved productively and objectively. Patients should always feel as though they can count on and confide in the narrative therapists. Narrative therapy is about growth, respect, and progress. Each patient is encouraged to go step-by-step at their comfort level and work with their therapist to better their quality of life.

Here at ReGain, we also pride ourselves on working with individuals eager to solve problems and better their quality of life. Trust and communication are some of our core values, which we pride ourselves on. The benefits of working with licensed professionals are well-documented, and ReGain proud to offer the best quality of care tailored to meet the needs of each person who comes to us.

Hopefully, the preceding information about narrative therapy served as helpful and provided insight. Ultimately, each person knows whether or not this form of psychotherapy is best for him or her.

The decision to work with ReGain is up to you. Not only do we offer both individual counseling and couples counseling, but we will always protect your privacy. Our ultimate goal is to help people improve themselves and experience the best that life has to offer. Regain will always be here as an option for those who may need it. The decision will always be yours, but if you ever feel inclined to reach out to Regain, you can do so by clicking here.


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