Narrative Therapy
Dr Robert Rich, M. Sc., Ph. D.


    Narrative Therapy was developed by Michael White and David Epston. Its central idea is:

The person never is the problem. The person has a problem.

    A problem is something you have, not something you are. You don't have to change your nature. You have to fight the influence of the problem on your life.

    All of us need to select from the huge amount of information the world throws at us all the time. We need to organise what we see, hear, feel and remember into a meaningful 'story' or 'picture'. This always introduces biases: we notice and remember things we find interesting, important, and in line with our beliefs, expectations and prejudices. We ignore, forget or play down things that are contrary to the way we see the world. So, things we notice and remember tend to confirm and strengthen our story about ourselves and our world.

    This is fine for most people, because they live reasonably happily within their world. Problems arise when a person is stuck in a story that makes him/her, or others, unhappy. Examples are stories involving beliefs like:

    They all involve the belief that "there is something wrong with me".

    Narrative therapy is a search for events which prove these beliefs to be false. There are always exceptions: events that occurred, but didn't fit the story, so were ignored, played down or forgotten. They can be used to "write a new story", one that separates the problem from the way the person sees himself/herself. Once the problem is found and named, it can be fought. In the process, the person does not have to change. S/he discovers a past, an identity, that was always there, but hidden by the biases of the previous story. The new story liberates the person from the shackles of the problem.
     I think in terms of the concepts of Narrative Therapy, and talk its language to clients.