Friday, November 4, 2022

Narrative Therapy- Writing Our Stories

Narrative Therapy developed by Michael White and David Epston offers people a way to separate their self-identity from their problems and difficulties, which can become the identity stories that dominate their lives.

Psychotherapists learn to listen to patients' stories and collaborate with patients to identify their skills,  competencies, abilities, values, and beliefs that can help patients view their problems in a different life context.

In everyday life, people tell snippets of their lives as short stories on social media, in conversations, in books, and in diaries. Our stories reveal what is meaningful. In psychotherapy, people may learn to rework or edit their narratives of past experiences and take a new approach to current and future stories. Changing past stories has been called re-authoring or re-storying. The analysis of older and problematic identity stories is called deconstruction.

Psychotherapists may use a position map technique to name and list the details of a problem and identify the effects in their life contexts such as school, work, and relationships. Patients then evaluate the effects in each domain and consider their values in view of the effects.

My Life Story is a technique to organize one's life into chapters. The chapters may represent highlights or key issues of a particular time frame such as My High School Years. People may learn to recognize their history and how it may have shaped them but realize that their past does not have to determine their future.

Narrative Therapy and Transgender Identity

In Gender Identity and Faith, Mark Yarhouse and Julia Sadusky (2022) recommend the use of narrative therapy as a way to explore gender identity.

Narrative Therapy and Spiritual Identity

Most people in the world are religious and many religious people consider their religion or their faith as highly important to their identity. People often refer to their faith journey or spiritual journey. In some Christian groups, members are asked to share their testimony, which is a life story. In these testimonies, they may interpret positive and negative life events in terms of their beliefs using phrases like God's will, God's protection, and so forth. Narrative Therapy may be useful in helping people with spiritual struggles.

Narrative Therapy and Career Counseling

Many people identify their occupation as important. It's common to ask a new acquaintance, "What do you do?" We expect the person to tell about their work or how they spend their time such as I'm a psychologist, I'm retired, I'm a teacher, I'm a student, and so forth. During periods of transition, narrative therapy may be helpful in thinking about the past, evaluating one's strengths and values, and beginning a new life chapter.

Narrative Therapy and the SCOPES model

Narrative Therapy is highly relevant to the SCOPES model because both the therapy and SCOPES model focus on the interaction of the Core Self-Identity and the interaction of the self with other dimensions of functioning, including the highly important social contexts.

Cite this article

Sutton, G. W. (2022, November 4). Narrative therapy--Writing our stories. Psychology Concepts and Theories. Retrieved from

Narrative Therapy Books

Maps of Narrative Therapy by Michael White (co-founder)

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Narrative Therapy Founders

Michael White 1949-2008, Adelaide, Australia.

David Epston, Auckland, New Zealand.

Photo credit: Mystic Arts/ Bing search- Free to use and share

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