Narrative therapy pays attention to how people make sense of their experiences and assists in changing their relationship with problems affecting their lives. Best known for “externalizing conversations” that separate a person from a problem, and for letter-writing practices, this approach is guided by its philosophical foundations, interviewing practices and range of playful possibilities. In addition to guiding counseling conversations, these principles and ways of working offer tremendous possibilities in community, organizational and coaching contexts. For this reason, the term “narrative practice” is sometimes used instead of “narrative therapy.”
The co-founders, Michael White and David Epston, first introduced this approach to counseling in 1990 with the book, Narrative means to therapeutic ends.
Michael White died unexpectedly in 2008 at the age of 59. This profound loss impacts many people world-wide. We cherish the memories and share the commitment to honor Michaels legacy.
Narrative Therapy Origins
Narrative Therapy originated in New Zealand and Australia where the original inhabitants have a profound sense of place and connection to their land. In the following brief video clips Maggie Carey describes several key concepts in rich story development: the metaphors of story and landscape; stepping out of the problem story; and practices of inquiry and listening. For further interest, check out the online course, An introduction to Rich Story Development.
Spacial Metaphors – Maps & Territories
Maggie Carey offers a spatial description of the work of narrative therapy to help clients step out of the confined space of the problem story into a new territory of preferred, re-authored stories. In the online course: An Introduction to Rich Story Development
Stepping Out of the Problem Story
Practices of Listening & Inquiry
Narrative practice pays close attention not only to a given problem, but to what stands outside of the problem. In this brief recording, Maggie Carey describes how practitioners develop skills in both question-asking and listening practices.
Guiding Values of Narrative Therapy
The Western Massachusetts Peer Supervision Group describes some of the values that guide their work and consultation with each other.
Why Narrative Therapy: International Reflections
Shamin Mehrotra (India), Johan Van de Putte (Belgium) and Elena Baskina (Russia) bring their international perspective to the question “Why Narrative Therapy?”
Compiling Global Resources
A number of websites have compiled lists of excellent resources. For example:
- The Narrative Therapy Centre of Toronto offers links to narrative therapy websites and training centers, as well as to Articles, and Books
- Narrative Approaches has compiled a list of narrative therapy resources, training courses, therapy centers, and information about body image/ anorexia bulimia, playful approaches with children and their families, papers and academic resources…and much more!
- The Evanston Family Therapy Centre (Jill Freedman & Gene Combs) offers excellent descriptions of narrative therapy here, We’ve made some of their materials into a page, Day to day work of narrative therapy here
- The Dulwich Centre offers a number of excellent resources including:
- Commonly-asked questions about narrative approaches to therapy, community work, and psychosocial support
- What is narrative Therapy? by Alice Morgan. Dulwich Centre strongly recommend it to anyone applying narrative ideas in their own work context.
- Externalising – Commonly Asked Questions by Maggie Carey and Shona Russell (this article was first published in The International Journal of Narrative Therapy and Community Work, 2002 No.2, and can be found in the book Narrative therapy: Responding to your questions, compiled by Shona Russell & Maggie Carey (Adelaide: Dulwich Centre Publications, 2004).
- Narrative Practices Adelaide offers counseling, supervision, training and a range of narrative resources.
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