Life Transitions | Personal Challenges | Personal Growth
A creative counselling approach: Narrative Therapy
Narrative Therapy is a counselling coaching approach used in various settings. It is a most respectful and empowering approach to conversing with you about your current and past experiences to bring forward an awareness of your current strengths, skills and knowledges. Everyone has them!! You may not feel like you have any, or just cannot seem to connect with them. It is the job of an experienced counselling coach to assist you to identify and step into them more fully.
Narrating stories about your life and experiences is the place to start-right where you are so you can be provided with non-judgmental acknowledgement of just what you are experiencing. You may be interested to open into your personal creativity so you can look at your life situation from various view points. Expand into divergent thinking for awhile as a departure from viewing things from what you believe you know if your truth right now.
Together we can explore how you may be navigating significant periods of change and challenge in your life. And we will look at what you would prefer and experiment with ideas for how to achieve that difference. You would expect a session to be created around a relaxed conversation, with lots of questions for you to consider and some you may like to take away for further reflection.
You can be assisted to clarify your personal values, hopes & wishes and we can create a Personal Identity & Goals Narrative Therapy Map which is a visual representation of your life so far.
After all of this and through this process we can put some ideas and plans into visual or worded forms as a record. You can gain clarity, realisations, surprises about your strengths and re-set your compass to get to where you wish with more ease and acceptance.
Engage in a Personal Development Journey if you wish to:
- Obtain clarity and confidence to navigate your way through life’s challenges.
- Align your hopes and wishes with resilience skills to achieve the changes required.
- Open your personal creativity alongside of realising your skills and knowledges.
- Use self compassion to increase trust in yourself and to reduce the negative self critic.
- Learn self compassion and re-author your life to live more in line with your cherished hopes and values.
Narrative Therapy for resilience building-young people’s mental health
Narrative Therapy forms the foundation for other evidence based psychological strategies used to address young people’s mental health and young adult mental health concerns which are life development stages characterised by huge changes and specific challenges. It is chosen as the most suitable ‘talk therapy’ or counselling approach to use and adapt for young people besides play and art therapy. It offers a conversational and novel approach that helps young people to open to self expression, respectfully drawing out their unique abilities. It can be playful and encouraging of young people to share their hopes and values, skills and knowledges alongside of problem experiences. It takes the view that the ‘problem is the problem’ not the young person which offers a non-blaming, non-judgmental approach. It does not take an expert powerful position ‘over’ the young person, nor does it take a teacher-like stance or overly rational or assuming position. Various questions and curiosities are used by the therapist to get to know your child quickly and to help your child to form a working partnership based on trust, mutual regard and a positive outlook. It helps to very quickly harness problem solving activity, motivation and self curiosity. It respects adolescence and young adulthood as special times in life with their own specific cultures-beliefs and knowledges held by peers and negotiated by the young person as they negotiate the expectations that are put upon them by society.
An Overview of Narrative Therapy
Narrative therapy is a form of counselling that helps people identify their values and the skills and knowledge they have. It helps to draw on these values, skills and knowledge so they can effectively confront whatever problems they face. Investigating the history of those qualities is a way to talk about how to approach problem experiences. Narrative therapy challenges a ‘one size fits all’ approach to problem experiences. It is particularly useful where people feels the stigma attached to mental health problems or feeling uncomfortably different to others. Narrative Therapy examines the stories we tell ourselves about who we are and why we do what we do. It can form the basis of conversations that help them to Re-Author or Re-Write their life stories building upon their strengths and unique ideas. Their revised life stories start from exploring and reviewing the ways they use when they are trying to feel better or solve various life challenges whilst incorporating their values, hopes and aspirations.
Narrative Therapy and Wellbeing approaches to young people’s mental health.
Physical and mental well-being means not just taking good care of your body; it means taking care of your mind and relationships. This can be achieved, in part, through making sense of certain life experiences and events-stretching out the view of their lives by noticing more skills and strengths used alongside of stories of survival. These approaches will also include stress-reduction techniques, developing cognitive thinking skills and self compassion and self acceptance.
Recognising and exploring your child’s key character strengths and helping young people to use them more frequently works well with taking a narrative therapy approach assessing and documenting young people’s resilience skills and exploring how they may develop them.
Get to know you and your *character strengths and your unique skills and abilities:
- What do you remember doing as a child that you still do now but most likely much better?
- Energy: what activities give you an energetic buzz when you are doing them?
- Who helps you to feel most like the ‘real you’? What is it that you think they see about you that is unique to you?
- What activities come naturally to you? Who in your life helped you to learn those activities?
- Where do you naturally pay attention? What special abilities do you possess, any special “powers” that people may have thought were weird or unusual but were the ones that afforded you great pleasure and success?
- What are the things you have picked up quickly, learning them almost effortlessly? In what situations have you been able to use these things?
- What things are you never asked to do twice? things that others appreciate that you can do quite easily and with interest? Who are the people who outwardly acknowledge these skills?
A Narrative Therapy approach that understands young people
Narrative Therapy prioritises our empathy and compassion for how young people may present and lets this inform and understand the problems and the challenges that they bring to counselling:
Anxiety and how it is managed is an expected mental health concern for young people. Before coming to counselling, young people may be trying various strategies to get on top of the anxiety. They may be coaching themselves through stressful situations with self talk.
Expanding on the stories of problem solving activity
Some challenges for childhood and adolescent depression
Children may be challenged to reach out and to tell someone what they may be struggling with. At times this may have worked but being able to connect around struggles with another trusted person may be the challenge itself. They may be trying various strategies to cope without witness or support. Isolation and loneliness in their pursuits may be experienced. Depression can take them away from actively pursuing their hopes and dreams.
Some challenges for adolescents and young adults adjusting to life’s challenges.
Adolescents and young adults may be expecting less for themselves as they get older. They may be comparing themselves with ‘just doing alright’. They may have given up on their hopes and expectations for how they thought they originally thought they may feel about school, their relationships and their capabilities. Frustration and habitual patterns may set in with more effort and energy required to reach into their hopes and dreams experienced.
TIPS: Helping parents with what to do when your child shows signs of depression using a Narrative Therapy approach:
- Allow time to listen. Create opportunities to show that you will listen with a respectful ear.
- Listen to learn what makes their experiences unique-don’t presume that you know what it feels like.
- Enquire about what they have been doing that helps so far which can inform you about their survival skills and strengths.
- Offer choices for who they can speak with-it could be a trusted relationship they have already or you can provide information about this service.
- If you are really worried you can go by yourself to an initial appointment with the counsellor to discuss how to best handle the situation.
Resilience Project-Live Artfully
17 South Street, Fremantle Psychology, Health and Wellbeing Centre