Narrative therapy views problems as being separate from the person and puts them as experts in their own lives. It assumes that people have many abilities, skills, competencies and beliefs to help them reduce the impact and influence of problems in their lives.
“Narrative” is used as the emphasis is made on the stories that make up people’s lives and the differences that can be made through telling and retelling these stories.
Everyone has many stories about their lives and relationships, occurring simultaneously. For example, we have stories about ourselves, our abilities, our struggles, our competencies, our actions, our desires, our relationships, our work, our interests, our conquests, our achievements, our failures.
Narrative therapy involves understanding these stories and re-authoring them in partnership with the therapist and the person whose life is being discussed.
Some stories have a problematic effect on the lives of those who are subject to them (eg, “I’m a failure”). Narrative therapy helps people to free themselves from the influence of such stories and to bring forward instead the influence of stories that they find more helpful (eg, “I’m a person who values friendship and I know how to be a good friend”). These stories are not seen as individual achievements and the role of audience or community is seen as central in sustaining the stories of people’s lives. People who are consulting are routinely invited to recruit audiences to their preferred accounts of who they are
There are many different directions a conversation can take. The person consulting the therapist plays a significant part in determining, which direction is taken.