Narrative Approaches

Narrative therapy is based on the following beliefs:

1. Clients are not defined by problems they present in counseling. Clients often identify themselves by their problems. By owning a label of dysfunction, clients begin to accept their problem as an integrated part of who they are. For example, clients who suffer from depression are experiencing a temporal state, not a characteristic of their personality. Making the distinction between self and the problem is important if clients are ever to be empowered to reauthor their life narrative.

2. Clients are experts on their lives, so in counseling, judiciously seek their expertise. The humanistic aspect of counseling is the belief that clients have their answers. Clients have spent the most time with self, experienced the totality of their lives, and are the best sources on how they have come to their present place in life. Any effective intervention with clients must take into account the immense amount of familiarity that they have with self and their dilemma.

3. Clients have many skills, competencies, and internal resources on which to draw when impacting change and growth. All clients, even the smallest child, have certain life skills that they draw from in their daily lives. The competencies that clients have used to arrive at this point in their life's journey will be used as resources for them in their therapeutic work and beyond. Attend to and explore the strength that is evident in clients' life narratives.

4. Therapeutic change occurs when clients accept their role as authors of their lives and begin to create a life narrative that is congruent with their hopes, dreams, and aspirations. Clients have many choices in how they experience and perceive their life's journey. The counselor's role is to empower clients to accept responsibility for the authoring of their lives. Once clients see the thematic patterns and characters in their life narrative, they can insightfully structure their story toward more positive and healthy goals.

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