Narrative Therapy

1. Deconstruction
– externalisation (objectifying the problem story)
Relative influence questioning (1. What is the problem? 2. How do you influence the problem?)
Assumption: the problem is objectified, refering to it as a problem or as a person

What kind of language is the person using for the issue. Is it like a metaphor, a vacuum cleaner, seductress. You may perceive that the thing is not the main problem. It’s a mindset they’re in. I.e. Self-pity is the issue, not the problem. So, “When does self-pity have a hold on you… what’s it doing to your marriage… etc.”

“When you’ve had strength to say no, what was happening that day.” (mapping the influence)

2. Transition
You’re starting to focus a little bit more on a new story. Focus on exceptions – the unique outcomes when the problem did not have a hold on you, “sparkling events,” “noticing.” In a sexual abuse case, it’s not the sexual abuse you try to externalise, but rather with the problem itself – i.e. fear of intimacy. It’s common for people to come in and the problem they’re asking for help with is not the real problem.

You may have to deal with a symptom until the person is invested in the deeper issue. The person “owns” the counseling time. You can say, “Are you noticing that every time you give into this addiction, that self-pity has given the power to this.”

Problem-saturated stories often have a hold on people because they tend to not see the winning moments when they resisted. They see a teeny-weeny victory. “You waited for 5 minutes, and God sent someone to your door. Next time, let’s wait 5 minutes, or even 10 minutes, again.”

How does a new story start to gel? Have them write 3 stories, one is problem-saturated, one is hopeful, one is something else.

1/3 history
1/3 what it looks like
1/3 where this seems to be going

Ex. Story 1: I made some really bad choices, got stuck. Made more bad choices. Marriage in mud. Ashamed all the time. Try to pray, or I’m so ashamed we don’t speak. This will dog me all my life.

Story 2: At a vulnerable time, I wallowed in self-pity, and looked for stimulation. More and more, porn has been a self-pity outlet. There have been moments I haven’t given in to self-pity, and if I work on it, I could break free.

Story 3: Whatever.

Bifurcation: How much are you starting to believe in the new story?

3. Thickening
– experiential. How does this story take hold in me?

Letter-writing. We’re such a textual culture that when we see something in writing it has more impact for us. “As a therapist I saw a person who felt out of control… but now you are making choices… and taking a courageous stand. Way to go.”

Certificates (You are officially a sneaky poo killer. You have slain the sneaky poo monster.)

Recruiting an audience, virtually or actually. “Who do you know who would really back you up in this new way of living?” Imagine talking about this with great aunt Bertha. Or “Let’s bring her in. Let’s have a chat with her.” Just check her out with the counselee. A “reflecting team” can work, too.

ANY kind of performing or expressing of the new idea:

Victor Turner: “hard-won meanings should be said, painted, danced dramatised, put into circulation.”

A ritual could be done. For ex. Let’s go burn those old letters.

What would happen to show that this story was really true for you. Write a short story of a person who is close, but not just like, you, and cover the topic. – they tend to make it very much like themselves.

Main Issues Therapists See:

1. Depression
2. Anxiety
3. Anger

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