Counselling Work and Narrative Therapy
- Counselling; A time to end and a time to begin1st March 2017
- Counselling and the art of giving back1st February 2017
- And this year I will…..1st January 2017
- Social Anxiety, Counselling and Christmas1st December 2016
- Couple Counselling – and just when is a discussion an argument1st November 2016
- Therapy, Mobiles and the Challenge of Choice1st October 2016
- Counselling, September and an Ellison’s Orange 1st September 2016
- Counselling – A room with a view1st August 2016
- Counselling: Choices and Decisions1st July 2016
- Counselling, Musee d’Art et d’Histoire and the Inevitability of Change1st June 2016
- Counselling and the art of Ambiguity. 1st May 2016
- Repetition; Normality or Folly. A Counselling Perspective1st April 2016
- Lions, Lambs and Therapy3rd March 2016
- Valentines Day, Counselling and the Great Unknown1st February 2016
- Janus Faced? The New Year, Counselling and Psychotherapy1st January 2016
- So which road do we travel this Christmas...1st December 2015
- Counselling, Guy Fawkes and Scapegoating1st November 2015
- Counselling Work and Narrative Therapy1st October 2015
- Counselling, Therapy and the end of Summer1st September 2015
- Wheat, Rye and Counselling1st August 2015
- Counselling and a break away3rd July 2015
- Counselling and the unexpected1st June 2015
- Counselling, Elections and our opportunity to choose1st May 2015
- Therapy, an April fool and the art of lost memory1st April 2015
- A Spring Clean Therapy and Counselling1st March 2015
- Couple Counselling & Valentines Day1st February 2015
- Nothing changes if nothing changes but this year can be different!1st January 2015
- Social Anxiety Disorder A Christmas Concern1st December 2014
- SAD & those dark Winter nights1st November 2014
- Existential Counselling A useful approach or pretentious jargon?1st October 2014
- Counselling, Therapy and a return to work1st September 2014
- Holidays, Counselling and your Shadow1st August 2014
- Couple Counselling and Choice1st July 2014
- Counselling, Jules Rimet and you A therapeutic perspective1st June 2014
- Counselling and Mayday A different take on a familiar story?1st May 2014
- Useful Therapy and not an April Fool1st April 2014
- Counselling, Floods and Pandoras Box1st March 2014
- Counselling and the art of being normal1st February 2014
- The New Year and a time for change?1st January 2014
- Christmas & Counselling The first Noel1st December 2013
- Counselling, Broomsticks & Halloween1st November 2013
- Couple Counselling and just what is a successful relationship?1st October 2013
- Counselling An issue of choice?1st September 2013
- Existential Counselling From Yalom to Basingstoke1st August 2013
- Counselling and the art of reframing1st July 2013
- Counselling - Change or Conformity?1st June 2013
- May Day Counselling - Celebration or Conflagration ?1st May 2013
- Summer Time & the Counselling Room1st April 2013
- Depression a useful diagnosis or an unhelpful label?1st March 2013
- An Emotional Timeline3rd February 2013
- Resolution, Revolution & Counselling1st January 2013
- Christmas, Carols & Counselling2nd December 2012
- Seasonal Affective Disorder and the SAD Season4th November 2012
- Psychotherapy & Counselling A Stoic Perspective17th October 2012
- 10th October 2012 - World Mental Health Day5th October 2012
- A First Meeting Explanation or Exploration?5th September 2012
- CBT, Mental Filtering and the Olympics19th August 2012
- I am not an angry man 14th July 2012
- Art, Counselling & Interpretation26th June 2012
- Murder Mysteries and Psychotherapy25th May 2012
- The importance of choice in therapy29th April 2012
- Reflections on Spontaneity6th April 2012
- A personal trainer for the mind 12th March 2012
“Don’t take it personally”
Anyone involved in the world of counselling and therapy will be only too aware of the plethora of approaches which now exist. This multiplicity of techniques can be over exaggerated as some so called new approaches may actually prove to be little more than a variation on an existing theme. This kaleidoscope of strategies can also become even more confusing when therapists appear to interpret the same counselling approach in different ways.
Narrative Therapy is a relatively new kid on the therapeutic block. As such it is still settling into the text books as a definitive approach and interpretations of this strategy will vary between therapists. A simplistic overview of this technique is that it draws attention to and reflects the importance of individual’s stories in the creation of self-identity.
Narrative therapy focuses not so much on what has happened to us but on the way in which we have interpreted what has occurred. An important key to understanding what is going on is to listen carefully to the story or the narrative behind the individual’s wider account of what is happening to them.
As with much counselling work, this strategy can be adapted and put to very different uses. For example presenting issues in the counselling room cover many different situations but challenges around relationships are often present. The narrative approach can be used to contribute towards a way of dealing with potential difficulties between individuals. In particular, narrative work can help to create some space between problems and people, between issues and personalities.
That sense of space can sometimes prove to be really helpful. For example, a classic phrase that we will all have heard at some time is ‘’ don’t take it so personally’. That is easy enough to say when the issue is with someone else but far more challenging when we are the one who feels upset or has perhaps been let down in some way.
The advantage of adopting the narrative approach is that we are encouraged to focus on the problem and the story of the problem rather than on the individual. We can have very warm feelings towards someone but still be annoyed or irritated at their behaviour. If we can remain focussed on the issue or behaviour relative to a specific event rather than the individual per se, we greatly lessen the chances of a serious rift developing within the relationship. Narrative therapy can help to maintain that distinction between behaviour and personal essence.
Let us consider an example. One classic issue which appears within families can be around parenting of young children and the alternative views of grandparents and parents. If a grandparent appears to be questioning the way in which a child is being brought up there is a chance that this could adversely impact on relationships within the family.
The narrative approach would be to see the problem as just the differing views on parenting and the specific way in which these are expressed rather than exposing any latent conflict or ill feeling between the individuals involved.
Those conflicting views on parenting may perhaps stem from different backgrounds, popular practice or just historical fads in child rearing. The problem lies in the difference between those views and not with the individuals behind those views. Narrative theory can encourage an understanding of the story rather than prompting criticism of an individual.
Both the grandparent and the parent can be a really warm and caring individual who just has a different story to tell when it comes to parenting practices. The problem is not the individual. The issue is not a flaw in the essential being of the parent or the grandparent but just with that particular interaction. To resolve the issue both need to focus on the narrative and not the personality.
If that sounds a relatively simple concept to work with, then that is probably because it is! Quite often some of the more contemporary counselling approaches can have a veneer of sophistication which on closer examination just describes a common sense way of thinking. That may be particularly true of this specific approach.
One advantage however of spending time in the therapy room is that it gives an excellent opportunity to think about why that obvious common sense way of thinking is not prevailing and just why those difficult hostilities are breaking out!
‘Don’t take it personally’ is a reasonable enough comment to make – but the unfortunate reality is that we usually do!
added on 1st October 2015
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