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 67 Comments

  1. toni.kernick@gmail.com

    I loved hearing Aunty Barbara talk about ‘telling our stories in ways that make us stronger’ and reflecting these stories back to the community. The impact of hearing your story in your own voice must be so powerful and healing.

  2. Tammy Townsend

    Chimimanda Adichie, your story is inspirational. Your honesty makes me reflect we are probably all somewhat guilty of looking at a single story at times, no matter how hard we try to take an unbiased approach in life.

  3. Elizabeth Tomlins

    Chimimanada Adrchie- what an amazing young woman and compelling story. really touched by the comment ” Show people as one thing over and over again and that is what they become”. The problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue but that they are incomplete and make it about one single story – Robs people of dignity”

    I try to practice with those I encounter “To listen for more than one story” this is enriching when listening to others.

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