Narrative therapy in trauma care — Joanna Bayes


The telling of stories is how we make sense of our lives. With trauma, our understandings of our stories are dramatically altered and somewhat reduced. This is particularly so when a patient has a near-death experience, multiple serious injuries and must be passive in order to survive. There is a need to rebuild a narrative in which the person is active, congruent and competent. My story starts with falling off a balcony on the first night of a holiday. Initially I adapted poorly to the loss of agency that is essential to recovery. I clashed with the intensive-care nurses as I fought to protect myself from pain within a state of sedation, delirium and confusion. Trauma deeply disturbs and destabilises a person’s sense of themselves. It can permanently impair many facets of our lives and damage our relationships to family and community. The collaborative and interactional process of narrative therapy can rebuild agency and empower trauma survivors. It can help prevent the patient from extending trauma-related vulnerability, damage and passivity into the future. It can assist with processing trauma and gently fostering new stories to incorporate the uniqueness, depth and complexity of trauma and human lives.

Bayes, J. (2022). Narrative therapy in trauma care. International Journal of Narrative Therapy and Community Work,
(4), 62–67.