Narrative Therapy: Externalization, Therapeutic Letter Writing, Re-membering & reclaiming lives from abuse.
Narrative therapy is a respectful, non-blaming approach to counselling, in which people are the experts in their own lives. It views problems as separate from people and assumes people have many skills, competencies, beliefs, values, commitments and abilities that will assist them to reduce the influence of problems in their lives. Weaving threads of meaning into narratives of possibility hope and renewal.
Narrative therapy involves listening to and telling or re-storying/re-framing stories into those about unique and empowered people and the challenges and problems they encounter in their lives. Writing these pieces down increases the effect and shapes events into narratives of hope, change and restoration.
The word ‘story’ has different associations and understandings for different people. For narrative therapists, stories consist of events linked in sequence, across time, according to a plot. As humans, we are interpreting beings. We all have daily experiences of events that we seek to make meaningful. The stories we have about our lives are created through linking certain events together in a particular sequence across a time period, and finding a way of explaining or making sense of them. This meaning forms the plot of the story. We give meanings to our experiences constantly as we live our lives. A narrative is like a thread that weaves the events together, forming a story.
We all have many stories about our lives and relationships, occurring simultaneously. For example, we have stories about ourselves, our abilities, our struggles, our competencies, our actions, our desires, our relationships, our work, our interests, our conquests, our achievements, our failures. The way we have developed these stories is determined by how we have linked certain events together in a sequence and by the meaning we have attributed to them.
When we are developing our stories from a healthy place, the stories support us. When our stories are developed from a place of incorrect beliefs of self, the way the pieces get put together work against us. By re-telling these stories in a different way, from a different perspective, it helps us to see things differently – inside and out.
The physical process of doing this – verbally and physically work together to cement the new learnings and create new neural pathways. Personally I have found this work to be a critical part in my healing. Reframing things, externalizing the problems rather than judging myself, allow me to see myself and the world in a much kinder, gentler way, that isn’t at my own expense. From that perspective, anything truly is possible.
This is truly a brief summary of the process, but if it speaks to you, I would love to work with you in this way.