Narrative Therapy: Deconstructing & Re-Authoring Stories

Steve Madigan: Narrative Therapy

In this video Steve Madigan describes the three stages of narrative therapy:

  1. Deconstructing problematic dominant stories. Naming the problem. Tracing the history of the problem. Exploring the effects of the problem. Situating the problem in context. Discovering unique outcomes.
  2. Re-authoring problematic dominant stories. Help clients to continue to bring forward unique outcomes and previously unpriviliged aspects of their experiences and identities. Trace history and meaning of unique outcomes and name alternative story. Thicken alternative story.
  3. Remembering conversations. Therapeutic documentation and letters. Rituals, celebrations, and ceremonies. Engage with support networks and communities of care.

A Narrative Perspective: The Danger of A Single Story

In this video Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie describes the danger of being exposed to a single dominant story. As a young girl growing up in eastern Nigeria, Chimamanda had access to British and American children's books. She describes the implications of being exposed to a single type of dominant story which privileged Western worldviews and experiences. Exposure to this type of dominant story shaped her beliefs about stories leading her to conclude that people like her were invisible in literature. She goes on to describe how any dominant story (e.g., a single story of who should be written about in children's books or what it means to be poor or to be African) can lead to dangerously incomplete stories, thin conclusions, and stereotypes. She argues that exposure to many types of stories matter as our lives are multistoried and full of contradictions. By considering many perspectives (dominant and alternative stories) we can expand our conversations and change the way in which the stories we construct impact our ways of understanding and our values, beliefs, and actions.

Further Reading

Want to learn more about the way clients understand their problems through stories and the impact of thin conclusions and problem saturated narratives? Click here to read the introduction and first two chapters from Alice Morgan's book What is Narrative Therapy?.