“The person is not the problem; the problem is the problem and the problem is social.”
As you experience events and interactions, you give meaning to those experiences and they, in turn, influence how you see yourself and the world. You can carry multiple stories at once, such as those related to your self-image, abilities, relationships, or work. In narrative therapy, there is an emphasis on the stories that you develop and carry with you through your life (Wallis J, 2011).
Through this, we acknowledge that a person’s social-cultural context can place certain normative judgements and not fulfilling these normative judgements can lead to people viewing themselves as deficient and placing blame on themselves because they do not fit into society’s fixed ideas of how to live.
People who practice narrative therapy believe telling one’s story is a form of action toward change. Narrative therapy is based on helping people experience some of the alternative storylines that already exist in their lives that have been overshadowed or forgotten—stories with themes that are in line with more empowering, more satisfying, more hope-filled futures. Such stories exist if we look for them. When found and brought to life, they let people experience and take credit for the knowledge, skills, and abilities that they have forgotten about or taken for granted.
Narrative therapists also use the externalization technique in which they motivate the client to view their problems or behaviors as external, instead of an unchangeable part of themselves. This is a technique that is easier to describe than to embrace, but it can have huge positive impacts on self-identity and confidence.
This court is one of the central tenants of narrative therapy which is a respectful and non-blaming approach to therapy that takes into account a person’s social context and the role it plays in the struggle they experience.