What is narrative therapy?

Sharing stories in ways that make us stronger

Narrative approaches to therapy and community work are vitally interested in the stories of people’s lives, and how stories can be told in ways that make people stronger.

It is possible for counsellors to invite people to tell and re-tell stories in ways that can offer hope and healing. With the use of narrative practices, we seek to honour and acknowledge the stories of hardship and loss that people have experienced. And at the same time, we make it possible for people to tell other stories of their lives as well, stories that bring strength and possibilities.

As Kaurna Elder and narrative therapist Aunty Barbara Wingard describes, ‘We assist people to tell our stories in ways that make us stronger’.

Aunty Barbara Wingard

Aunty Barbara describes how stories are so important and people are the experts of their own lives.

What is narrative therapy?

Here is a very quick response to the question: What is narrative therapy? 

The danger of a single story

Novelist Chimamanda Adichie warns that if we hear only a single story about another person or country, we risk a critical misunderstanding. 

Listening for more than one story: Strengthening resistance

As Chimimanda Adichie describes, it’s  important to move beyond the single story. This is what narrative therapists and community workers do in our work. We listen for more than one story.

This extract is from a workshop held in Rwanda with counsellors who are all themselves survivors of the 1994 genocide.

Strengthening Resistance

Aunty Barbara Wingard

Telling stories in ways that make us stronger.

This Post Has 129 Comments

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    It was so interesting to think about the power that can be in a story in all sorts of ways – that a single story can rob people of their dignity, but a complete story can repair this, and that dispossession can be enacted by starting a story with “secondly” and neglecting what happened first. Most of all I liked that stories can make us stronger, and that the person is not the problem. the problem is the problem.

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    Loved listening to the story by Chimamanda, Listening for more than one story: Strengthening resistance. makes you really look at it in different ways.

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    I love the double listening and listening for what’s implicit when something else is stated. This adds a whole extra dimension along with listening for tiny sections or openings to new stories

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