So What is Narrative Therapy?

Narrative Therapy, Explained

The stories you tell yourself about yourself are important. You likely have a story to tell and deserve to have your story unpacked, understood, and validated through the context of your lived experiences.

Constructing Your Life Narrative with Narrative Therapy

Narrative Therapy believes that as people grow and develop throughout life, they accumulate life experiences that shape a narrative around their identity, worth, and value. There are helpful narratives we can embrace about ourselves and unhelpful narratives. If someone begins to overly focus on all the negative experiences they have gone through in life, an emphasis on these negative events will create unhelpful dominant themes around their life narrative. Narrative Therapy believes that we construct meaning around these narratives and aims to empower the client to explore alternative and more adaptive meanings around their life narrative.

The Impact of Unhelpful Narratives on Your Life

Through the lens of narrative therapy, people become stuck when they are letting others write their life narrative, are focusing disproportionately on the greatest moments of pain and sorrow in their life, and are linking all their negative experiences together to create an often hopeless and painful life narrative. When people let the unhelpful and untrue messages others have given them about their worth and identity shape their story, then their life narrative is centered around someone’s faulty beliefs about them. It does not truly represent who they are.

Shifting Perspective: Incorporating Positive Experiences into Your Narrative

Just as everyone in life will experience moments of pain and sorrow, they will also go through moments where they feel freedom and joy. Narrative therapy believes that the way to get unstuck in life is to rewrite one’s past experiences into a storyline that also incorporates moments of beauty, joy, delight, and wonderfulness.

A significant perspective shift occurs when one’s narrative acknowledges the hard times they have gone through but also highlights how they got through these challenging times, who was there for them, and how they found rays of peace.  All these strength-based perspectives help them rewrite their story into a more meaningful, more adaptable storyline and allow them to better move forward in life.

Reclaiming Your Power and Identity through Narrative Therapy

Transformation, healing, and growth occur as one begins to shift their perspective on past negative experiences and make room for their life narrative to equally focus on moments celebrating their resilience, strength, and the wisdom they have gained along their life journey. When people begin to reclaim power over their identity and decide who gets a voice in their life narrative and who does not, incredible freedom can occur.

In narrative therapy, by challenging negative voices who have had a say in one’s identity, the person regains their power and can continue to write their life narrative on their terms and through a more accurate lens. If one’s strengths become dominant themes in their life story over their weaknesses, a higher sense of self is established, and self-confidence is increased.

Using Narrative Therapy to Empower Clients and Reauthor their Stories

I am deeply passionate about helping my clients reauthor their stories and rediscover/reclaim their incredible worth and value. I enjoy using Narrative Therapy with my clients because of its inherently empowering approach and belief that the person is not the problem. Rather, the problem is the problem.

Since a core pillar of Narrative Therapy is the client is the expert of their life, I take a collaborative and client-centered approach to therapy. I help facilitate interventions throughout treatment to help my clients reprocess, reauthor, and reclaim their life narratives. I am always listening for stories highlighting my client’s special abilities, strengths, and positive characteristics. My hope is that with intentionality and time, my clients can come home to themselves and create more adaptable and meaningful life narratives.

Janelle Stepper

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