A narrative is a story comprised of a collection of events. Every person has a story; for some, it’s essentially positive sprinkled with negative events throughout. But for others, the negative elements or problems are front and center, overshadowing anything positive. Many people go through life defining themselves by their problems. This often makes them feel stuck, hopeless, fearful, or empty.
For example, individuals who’ve struggled with anxiety for many years often describe themselves as “an anxious person.” The more that becomes their “story,” the more they see themselves as fearful and incapable of handling challenges. Similarly, those whose stories center around past mistakes or failures regard themselves as “losers” or “total failures”, while those who struggle with depression define their lives as “hopeless.” Needless to say, these stories exert a powerfully negative impact on the course their lives – unless and until they change the story.
Narrative therapy helps people see themselves as separate from their problems and to use their own inherent strengths and abilities to change their lives. The goal of this therapeutic approach is to help them rewrite the negative story – the problem-saturated narrative – that has been dominating their lives for so long. They learn to regard problems as something they have, not something they are.
In narrative therapy, the therapist isn’t the expert; the client is. This shift in perspective from more traditional forms of therapy can be especially empowering for individuals who seek treatment. It’s not uncommon for therapy clients to regard themselves – at least to some degree – as weak, inferior, or even damaged because of their depression, anxiety, relationship struggles, unresolved grief, or whatever disorder or challenge that caused them to seek professional help in the first place. Narrative therapists work in collaboration with clients to help them achieve their therapeutic goals in a respectful, non-judgmental, and non-blaming manner.
As clients learn to externalize their problems or challenges and deconstruct the problematic story, they can then begin the process of reconstructing it. They use positive alternatives to create a winning story. It’s akin to a writer going back through a novel he’s written – one that was rejected by potential publishers due to flaws in the storyline. Building upon the strengths and most interesting aspects of the original story, he rewrites the novel and turns it into a bestseller.
(This description of Narrative Therapy was obtained from www.addictions.com.)
You are ready to start building positive relationships. You are ready to start loving youagain. You are ready to get out of that negative cycle and change your perspective. You are ready to meet with a counselor and begin your first counseling session. Contact me to schedule your first session.