Narrative Therapy (A Comprehensive Guide)

Narrative therapy is a technique for therapy that isolates an individual from their problem.

It assumes that problems happen  in cultural contexts. These contexts include power relations of race, class, sexual orientation, gender and disadvantage and people are authors of their lives.

It urges individuals to depend on their own abilities to minimize issues that exist in their lives.

All through life, individual encounters become personal stories. 

Narrative therapy helps in self-awareness, personal responsibility and provides solutions to everyday life is the most effective way.

We discuss narrative therapy in this article.

Overview of Narrative Therapy

This approach of therapy was created by Michael White and David Epston, two New Zealand-based therapists, who trusted it was essential to consider individuals to be discrete from their problems.

Created during the 1980s, narrative therapy tries to have an engaging impact and offer counselling that is non-pathological and non-blaming in nature.

Components of Narrative therapy:

i) Respect: Narrative therapy is focused on three main components in mind.

The accompanying make the establishment for the connection between a narrative therapist and their client: Individuals participating in narrative therapy are treated with deference and supported for the dauntlessness it takes to approach and work through personal challenges. 

ii) Non-Blaming: There is no blame set for the client as they work through their stories and they are likewise to not put fault on others.

Concentrate is rather set on perceiving and changing undesirable and unhelpful behaviors and thoughts. 

iii) Client as Expert: Narrative therapists are not seen as a guidance giving power be that as it may, rather, a community accomplice in helping clients develop and heal.

Clients realize themselves well and investigating this information will consider an adjustment in their thoughts and behaviors.

Principles of Narrative Therapy:

i) Reality is socially constructed: The manner in which we interact with others impacts how we experience reality.

These encounters with others become our known reality. 

ii) The truth is impacted by (and imparted through) language:  Individuals decipher encounters through language and individuals can have various understandings of a similar occasion or interaction. 

iii) Having a narrative can assist us with keeping up and arrange our reality:  The development of an account or story can assist us with making sense of our encounters. 

iv) There is no objective reality: Individuals can have various real factors of a similar experience. What may be valid for us may not be valid for another person.

Narrative therapy recommends that we make stories for the duration of our lives as an approach to comprehend our encounters and we can convey many stories with us at once.

Albeit a few stories can be positive and others negative, all accounts sway our lives previously, the present, and later on. 

As depicted in narrative therapy, stories include the accompanying four components cooperating:

  • Events
  • Linked in a sequence
  • Across time
  • According to a plot

There can be numerous factors that add to our improvement of stories.

These elements influence how we decipher events or interactions, just as the implications we connect to them. A portion of the factor include:

  • Gender
  • Race
  • Age
  • Socioeconomic status
  • Sexual identity
  • Ethnicity

As we consider these factors, we likely hold convictions about them and what they intend to us or how they sway us in the world.

Our convictions around these things shape how we may see ourselves and what we tell ourselves regarding an experience or interaction. 

We convey multiple stories with us without a moment’s delay, for example, about   our professional lives, our strengths, our weaknesses, our relationships, our goals and more.

Narrative therapy accentuates the investigation of these stories, as they can impact on our behavior and decision-making.

How Narrative Therapy Helps:

Narrative therapy centers on these stories, especially the dominant stories that are risky and appear to impede us living our best lives.

A trained Narrative therapist works with individuals to investigate these stories and to search out information that encourages us to challenge these problematic stories. 

Through narrative therapy, we can start to identify alternative stories that offer us a chance to challenge judgment and investigate what other information we are conveying inside us.

Investigating along these lines causes us to augment our perspective on self, challenge old and unhealthy beliefs and to open our brains to better approaches for living that mirror a progressively exact and healthy story.

Inside narrative therapy, there is a strong emphasis on isolating the individual from their problem.

By doing this, the individual starts to understand that they are equipped for something new.

Old, unhelpful implications that have been woven into our stories after some time can be challenged. 

As individuals extend their perspective on self and explore extra information, there can be room made for healthy changes in our behavior, feelings and thoughts.

When there is space made among us and our problems, we can more readily analyze and pick what is serving us well and what isn’t.

Narrative therapy doesn’t mean to change an individual however to permit them to turn into a specialist in their own life.

Narrative Therapy techniques:

The objective of the narrative therapist is to work with the person to think of an elective story that better matches what they really need from their lives.

There are a few techniques that are regularly utilized by narrative therapists to do this.

Below are some narrative therapy techniques. You need to be a trained narrative therapist and must follow protocols of narrative therapy. 

Constructing a Narrative:

The therapist and the clients cooperate to recount the client’s story in the client’s own words.

All the while, the therapist and client search for new implications in the story that may assist them with modifying the client’s current stories or make new ones.

This procedure is here and there alluded to as “re-authoring” or “re-storying.”

This depends on the possibility that one event can have a wide range of implications and interactions.

In narrative therapy the client will come to perceive that they can make new implications from their life stories.


Externalization is another technique used in narrative therapy. The objective of this technique is to change a client’s point of view so they no longer consider themselves to be problematic.

Rather they consider themselves to be an individual with problems.

This externalizes their problems, decreasing the impact they have on the person’s life. 

The thought behind this technique is that on the off chance that we consider problems to be an integral part of our personality, they can appear to be difficult to change.

Yet, in the event that those issues are just something the individual does, they feel far less insurmountable. It’s frequently challenging for clients to grasp this point of view.

In any case, doing so can be enabling and cause individuals to feel like they have more command over their issues.


Another technique is deconstruction. Deconstructing a problem implies making it progressively explicit so as to focus on the center of the issue.

At the point when a story has been prevailing in our lives for an extended period of time, we may start to overgeneralize it, and along these lines, experience issues seeing what the fundamental issue truly is.

The narrative therapist assists clients with decreasing the story to its parts so as to find what the problem they’re struggling with truly is. 

For instance, a client may state he feels frustrated on the grounds that his partners at work don’t esteem his work.

This is an extremely broad explanation and it’s difficult to build up an answer for this issue.

So the therapist would work with the client to deconstruct the issue to get a thought of why he’s building a narrative in which he’s being debased by his colleagues.

This can help the client to consider himself to be somebody who has a fear of being neglected and needs to figure out how to all the more likely impart his abilities to his partners.

Unique Outcomes Technique:

This technique is complex however fundamental for the storytelling aspect of narrative therapy.

The extraordinary outcomes technique includes changing one’s own storyline.

In narrative therapy, the client intends to develop a storyline to their encounters that offers significance, or gives them a positive and functional identity.

This isn’t as misguided as “thinking positive,” yet rather, a particular technique for clients to create life-framing stories.  We are not restricted to only one storyline, however.

There are numerous potential storylines we can subscribe to, some more supportive than others. 

Like a book that changes perspectives starting with one character then onto the next, our life has various threads of narrative with alternate points of view, point of interest and area of focus.

The unique outcomes centers on an alternate storyline or storylines than the one holding the wellspring of your issues.

Utilizing this technique may seem as though evading the problem, however it’s in reality simply reconsidering the problem.

What appears as though an issue or issue from one point of view can be only an unassuming or irrelevant detail in another (Bishop, 2011).

As a therapist, you can present this technique by empowering client(s) to seek after new storylines.

FAQS about Narrative Therapy

What is narrative therapy good for?

Narrative therapy permits individuals to discover their voice as well as to utilize their voice for good, helping them to become specialists in their own lives and to live in a manner that mirrors their objectives and qualities.

We have more force for development and change than we might suspect, particularly when we own our voice and our story.

What is the focus of narrative therapy?

Narrative therapy is a type of therapy that aims to isolate the person from the problem, permitting the person to externalize their issues as opposed to disguise them.

It depends on the person’s own abilities and sense of purpose to control them through difficult times.

What are the principles of narrative therapy?

Principles discussed include narrative metaphor, intentionality, positioning (de-centered but influential; externalization) identity proclamation, personal agency, deconstruction (societal and cultural; personal, day-to-day) and subordinate story development (repositioning; absent but implicit).

Who benefits from narrative therapy?

odds are, individuals who share an issue (as on account of family and couples counseling) have various sides to a similar problem story, along these lines, narrative therapy assisted by considering and joining the various stories into one.

This, thus, helps families and couples to concede to one story and proceed onward.

What are some narrative techniques?

Common techniques relevant to style or the language chosen to tell a story, include metaphors, imagine similes, hyperbole, personification and alliteration.

Techniques relevant to plot, which are the sequence of events that create up a narrative, include flashback, backstory, and foreshadowing flash-forward.