Frequently Asked Questions - About Narrative Therapy

Yes! Generally people come to therapy because there is an issue, or issues, that are impinging on their life to such an extent there is a feeling of being “stuck”. In turn this feeling of being “stuck” can lead to feeling overwhelmed and a scarcity of choices.

Narrative Therapy can, often very quickly, change the way a person views their issues. Externalising a problem (separating the problem from the person) immediately creates space between the person and the issue troubling them. This allows the person to imagine their life with the issue in a different place – a smaller place, a place further away or a place that the person feels more in control of the issue. With the support of an experienced narrative therapist the person will find ways to bring to the forefront their most preferred ways of living and to place the issue into a space where they can control it – rather than the issue controlling their life. Of course, depending on what the issue is, the person may wish to work with the therapist to get to a place where the issue is no longer around in their life at all.

Narrative Therapy is more than a set of techniques. Therapists in this area hold a stance of viewing problems in multi-faceted ways. The world is not black and white: right or wrong. This stance in itself can be extremely empowering for many clients and create new ways of looking at issues quickly.

Yes! A significant component of Narrative Therapy is “externalising”. The process of externalising a problem is the key idea underpinning the narrative saying: the person is the person; the problem is the problem. Externalising separates the person from the problem. This concrete way of looking at problems, lends itself to making the whole process of counselling accessible to children.

Externalising a problem leads itself , very naturally, to a playful approach to problems. Once externalised “issues” or problem can be drawn, painted or acted out. This concretising process relates immediately to children – as it makes what was abstract and insidious – clear. Clarity and concretising of issues enables children to create their own language around their own issues.

Children have referred to problems around anxiety as: The Worry Bug, The Black Hole - sometimes they even give their worries a first name – Waldo ( an example). This lends itself to children feeling they have control or power over their problems. They can work out how to make The Worry Bug smaller, move further away or stop it when it is sneaking up on them. In this way the counselling process is meaningful to children. It shows respect to their experience with their issue. In this way change is often seen quite quickly with children.