Narrative Therapy: The Story is Being Told
My approach to counseling is rooted in Narrative Therapy, which is all about the stories that shape our lives. Our stories are written in lots of different ways: through things we're taught about ourselves, values passed on to us, helpful and harmful experiences, etc. Sometimes those stories start to define us more than we'd like, or we realize that they might not be the whole truth. Together, we examine the dominant stories, identify "truer" stories, and help those truer stories gain more power and influence in our lives.
I recently read this poem by Pádraig Ó Tuama, an Irish poet and theologian, and I was struck by how it seems to capture the essence of Narrative Therapy.
Narrative Theology #1
And I said to him Are there answers to all of this? And he said The answer is in a story and the story is being told.
And I said But there is so much pain
And she answered, plainly, Pain will happen.
Then I said Will I ever find meaning? And they said You will find meaning Where you give meaning.
The answer is in the story And the story isn’t finished.
The story is still being told. The story isn't finished yet.
It's a real honor to walk with my clients as they examine and re-write the stories of their lives. I've seen people let go of narratives of self-blame and embrace self-compassion. I've seen people detach their value from their productivity. I've seen people step away from painful, limiting stories and into more spacious, hopeful ones.
What stories have been defining your life? Are there narratives that have served you for a while, but just don't seem to work anymore? What if there's another story- one that you could write yourself?