Narrative Therapy Exercises (A list)

This blog aims to provide you details on narrative therapy exercises.

You will be told about the principles and approaches used in narrative therapy as well as the exercises which are used to treat different illnesses with the help of the narrative therapy approach.

Let’s not delay more and move on to the very first heading that tells us about what narrative therapy actually is.

What is Narrative Therapy? A Definition

Narrative therapy is a kind of psychotherapy that focuses on separating the individual from the problem by helping him externalize his issues rather than internalize them.

Narrative therapy is a kind of self-directed approach in which individuals use their own skills and goals for finding out ways through difficult situations (“Narrative Therapy,” 2017). 

Narrative therapy was developed by Michael White and David Epston in the 1980s.

These therapists believed that separating an individual from his problems or undesirable behavior is a significant part of the treatment.

For example, if an individual has done any crime, instead of asking him to realize he is a bad person or punishing him for he is a bad person, he must be punished on the basis of the wrong thing he has done.

What Are Narrative Therapy Exercises?

Narrative therapy exercises are based on the narrative therapy approach.

These exercises helplines identify their values, knowledge, strengths, and skills to use them when they encounter any problem in their life. 

The narrative therapy aims to help clients separate themselves from the problem and externalize the problem rather than internalizing it, so they can effectively tackle the problems they are facing.

Narrative therapy exercises teach individuals how they can externalize their problems.

Components of Narrative Therapy

Michael White and David Epston considered three components while developing narrative therapy.

These three components form the basis for the relationship between the narrative therapist and the client.

These three components are respect, non-blaming, and client as an expert.

Respect 

The clients who come forward to take narrative therapy are respected and encouraged for coming forward to deal with their conflicts and problems. 

Non-blaming 

The clients who come forward to take narrative therapy or not blame in narrative therapy sessions and they are requested to avoid blaming as well.

Narrative therapy encourages clients to pay attention to identifying and modifying unwanted and helpful thoughts and behaviors. 

Client as Expert 

In narrative therapy, the therapists are not considered as advice-giving personalities rather they work in collaboration with the clients to help them heal and resolve their conflicts.

Since clients know more about themselves, exploring themselves gives them a chance to discover their hidden thoughts and behaviors.

Principles of Narrative Therapy

There are four major principles of narrative therapy. These principles are the basis or foundation of narrative therapy.

These four principles are as follows:

Reality is constructed socially: The experiences of how an individual interacts with other people become his reality. 

Reality is affected and communicated through language: People find out the meaning of their experiences through their language and different people can have different meanings for the same event or interaction.

Narratives can help us maintain and organize our reality: Developing for writing narratives can help individuals find out the true meaning of their experiences. 

Objective reality does not exist: People can have different realities with the same experience. A thing that is true for one individual might not be true for the other.

Narrative Therapy Exercises 

A number of narrative therapy exercises and techniques are being used to help people take their issues and resolve the conflict.

Some of the most commonly used narrative therapy exercises include putting together our narrative, externalization, deconstruction, and unique outcomes.

These four narrative therapy exercises are explained in detail below.

1. Putting Together Our Narrative

The narrative therapists encourage their clients to put together their narrative.

As a result of this, the clients explore their voices, identify the events that occurred in their lives, and the meanings they had given to these experiences as well as themselves due to the influence of time. 

Not every individual is aware of the particular story that has followed him throughout his life but he can surely identify the things that have kept him away from living a good life or created obstacles in making good decisions.

When the story of such an individual is put together with the aid of a narrative therapist, the individual observed his story closely and words on recognizing the common, dominant aspects of the story that is causing trouble in his life.

2. Externalization

Externalization is the narrative therapy exercise that allows clients to externalize the troublesome events or problems rather than internalizing them.

The clients create distance between themselves and their problems in a process known as externalization.

This helps them identify the changes they want to bring and their behaviors, by considering their behavior as inappropriate rather than blaming themselves for being wrong.

Practicing externalization help individuals to modify their behaviors and feel encouraged when they successfully do so.

This helps them in the process of healing.

3. Deconstruction

Deconstruction is the kind of narrative therapy exercise with the help of which individuals gain clarity in their stories.

Often long stories can cause trouble and confusion as a result of which individuals might use generalized statements and experience a lack of clarity.

The narrative therapist helps individuals breakdown the long story into smaller parts so they can understand each part closely, clarify their problems, and work on them easily.

4. Unique Outcomes

Often individuals feel that their stories are concrete and cannot be changed. They get stuck in their stories and their decision-making abilities, behavioral experiences, and relationships are influenced negatively.

The narrative therapist helps such individuals challenge their problems and broaden their thinking by welcoming alternative stories.

They help individuals explore information that they are carrying but are unable to find the value of those pieces of information.

These new pieces of information can be a helpful source of creating new and unique stories about what the individual is and what he wants to be.

Recommended Books

The following are some books based on narrative therapy.

You can read these books to increase your knowledge about narrative therapy and learn how you can apply narrative therapy in your daily life to deal with your daily issues.

All of these books are easily accessible on the Amazon Store.

Just click the book you wish to study and you will be redirected to the page from where you can access it.

  • What is narrative therapy?: An easy-to-read introduction (Gecko 2000) by Alice Morgan  | Dec 1, 2000
  • Retelling the Stories of Our Lives: Everyday Narrative Therapy to Draw Inspiration and Transform Experience by David Denborough
  • Narrative Therapy: The Social Construction of Preferred Realities by Gene Combs and Jill Freedman | Mar 17, 1996
  • Narrative Therapy (Theories of Psychotherapy Series®) by Stephen Madigan
  • Solution Focused Narrative Therapy by Linda Metcalf Ph.D. LPC-S LMFT-S | Apr 8, 2017

What are the techniques of narrative therapy?

Some techniques used in narrative therapy include telling one’s story, externalization technique, deconstruction technique, unique outcomes technique, and existentialism.

What are the key concepts of narrative therapy?

Some key concepts of narrative therapy include the following: 

  • Reality is constructed socially 
  • Reality is affected and communicated through language 
  • Narratives can help us maintain and organize our reality 
  • Objective reality does not exist. People can have different realities with the same experience.

What are the limitations of narrative therapy?

Although narrative therapy was a great success it has some downfalls as well. Narrative therapy is very complicated.

The clients need to understand the purpose of this therapy to make it work, which is very difficult due to the complex framework of narrative therapy.

How long is narrative therapy?

Narrative therapy requires one hour for individual sessions.

Who can benefit from narrative therapy?

Narrative therapy uses various effective approaches such as a non-blaming, interactive, and playful approach.

Due to this, it has been found to be very effective for children or people who feel that going to counselors do not work for them.

Narrative therapy is very effective for individuals dealing with depression, sadness, or bipolar disorder.

How effective is narrative therapy?

Empirical evidence has proved that children who receive narrative therapy intervention showed a very profound improvement in self-awareness, self-management, social awareness/ empathy, and good decision making when compared to their own first stories and the stories from children in the control group.

This blog gave you details on narrative therapy exercises.

The blog explained in the detail what narrative therapy is and what are the different techniques used in narrative therapy exercises.

You were also told about the principles and approaches used in narrative therapy.

If you have any queries or questions regarding this blog, let us know through your comments. We will be glad to assist you.

References 

What Are Narrative Therapy Exercises? | NC | Red Oak …

9 Narrative Therapy Techniques, Interventions + Worksheets [PDF] by Courtney E. Ackerman (2020)

What Is Narrative Therapy? – Verywell Mind

Amazon.com 

Unsplash.com 

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