Imagine, you were asked to narrate your life in the form of a story where you are the hero, rather than a victim. What does your life story look like? Narrative therapy helps you become aware of the stories you carry with you through life and also looks at the way these stories can influence how you view yourself. It can help you to take back your narrative and see any problems as distinct from you.
What is Narrative Therapy?
Narrative therapy is based on the belief that “The person is not the problem, the problem is the problem.” Narrative therapy is a form of talk therapy that views people as separate from their problems and sees them as the experts in their own lives. It also assumes that people have many skills, competencies, beliefs, values, commitments, and abilities that will assist them to reduce the influence of problems in their lives.
Narrative therapy aims at helping individuals to look at problems as something that is separate and not a part of their individual identity. Externalizing problems from their identity empowers the person to rely on their own skills to minimize problems and the impact of problems on their life.
Questions in Narrative Therapy
A narrative therapist collaborates with people to help them put together their narrative. The therapist maintains an attitude of genuine curiosity and asks questions to get a better understanding of the person’s story. Thus questions are an integral part of the narrative therapy process.
A Narrative therapist might use various types of questions as a part of the therapy process. They are:
Deconstruction is a very important technique in narrative therapy. Deconstruction helps people to break their problems down into smaller pieces. When a problem is broken down, it is easier to see its origin and the steps that can be taken to deal with them. Some examples of deconstruction questions include..
- What triggered the problem?
- Since how long have you been facing this issue?
- How do you see this issue impacting your life?
- What are your thoughts on the effects of this problem on your life?
- How do you feel about the current problem/ Situation?
. Externalizing questions
The purpose of externalizing questions is to help the person view the problem as a separate entity that exists on its own or outside of them. Viewing the problem as something on the outside might help them to feel less overwhelmed by the problem. Some examples of externalizing questions are:
- If we were to give this problem a name, what would you choose to name it?
- How did this problem come into your life?
- What does the problem require you to do?
- What conclusion have you drawn about your life because of this problem?
- How do you see this problem directing your life?
Reauthoring questions are designed to encourage the person to look at the problem and their life from a different perspective. Some examples of reauthoring questions are:
- If this problem were to be solved, how would you see your life? How would it be different?
- Was there a time when this problem wasn’t in your life?
- What was different during that time?
- Was there a time when you managed to deal with the problem successfully?
- What helped you to deal with the problem successfully?
Narrative therapy is a non-pathologizing approach to therapy. The questions asked in narrative therapy not only help the therapist understand an individual’s narrative but also encourage the person seeking therapy to look at their problems as an external observer which helps them to build positive and helpful narratives.
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- Narrative Therapy Questions (Complete Overview) | OptimistMinds. (2020, March 13). https://optimistminds.com/narrative-therapy-questions/
- Sax, P. (n.d.). Externalising Conversations Handout. Re-Authoring Teaching. Retrieved August 9, 2023, from https://reauthoringteaching.com/pages-not-in-use/externalising-conversations-handout/
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