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Narrative Therapy

Focus of the approach is the manner in which individuals construct meaning rather than the way they behave. The narrative approach is incompatible with systems thinking.

Narrative Therapy key figures

Michael White, David Epston

opening space questions

In narrative therapy, Functions like a unique outcome. It is a time that family members have had influence over the problem. "when is a time that you had more control over this issue?"

rhetorical questions

Designed to elicit specific response to help people see they are separate from and have power over the problem. "Was the way you handled it more or less effective?"

story development questions

Build the story from the unique outcomes. "How will you know when this new story has begun to play out for you?"

reauthoring (or meaning) questions

Designed to challenge negative self images and emphasize positive agency. "What does this tell you about yourself that is important for you to know?"

questions that extend the story into the future

Support growth and development. "How do you see this working out for you during the next six months?"

social constructionist theory

Language does not describe reality; it defines reality.

landscape of meaning questions

Questions that help clients begin seeing themselves differently.

experience of experience

Example: How I experience other's perceptions of me.

landscape of consciousness

Exception of meaning.


(postmodern in general) Therapist and client working together to develop a different view of the problem--as they develop new meanings, clients develop new ways of resolving problems.

collaborative case notes

Writing process notes with the help of the client -- constructing the meaning of the session with the client


Separates the client from the system -- sometimes giving the problem a name

landscape of action questions

Questions that identify situations in a client's past when they successfully dealt with their problem -- helps to focus on strengths and begin the solution-generating process

reflecting team

(postmodern in general) Team members observe the therapy interview and then discuss their observations and thoughts in front of the therapist and client -- the therapist and family then discuss the team's conversation

therapeutic certificates

Having the client create certificates to announce the solution of the problem

therapeutic letters

Writing client's letters based on the sessions -- serves as a reminder of the emerging subjugated story

dominant story

Describes one's principal view of the world -- can be either helpful or hurtful


Diagnosing and categorizing individuals by their labels

subjected story

Alternative stories of success, alternative options, or different ways of viewing a problem that are hidden by the dominate story

unique outcome

Those situations in the past when clients have resolved their problems but had not previously been aware that they had done so

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