Narrative therapy is a postmodern approach to therapy that was developed in the 1980s by Michael White and David Epston. It is a non-pathologizing, empowering, and collaborative treatment approach that views young people as separate from their problems. The narrative therapy model assumes “people have many skills, abilities, values, commitments, beliefs, and competencies that will help them change their relationships with the problems influencing their lives.” Narrative therapy may help treat the symptoms associated with certain mental health conditions, such as:
- Anxiety disorders
- Depressive disorders
- Eating disorders
- Attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- Autism spectrum disorder (ASD)
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
The purpose of narrative therapy is to externalize problems to facilitate positive interactions with others. According to the philosophy behind narrative therapy, humans tend to make meaning out of their lives by organizing their memories into stories. In assigning the teenager the role of narrator in their own story, teens can reshape and reframe the stories they tell themselves. This can shift problematic narratives and enables them to re-narrate their story to have a positive influence on their perceptions, emotions, and behaviors.
Narrative therapy can play a crucial role in promoting positive change and emotional well-being. The findings from one study revealed that narrative therapy was effective at helping children improve empathy, decision-making, and social skills. Narrative therapy provides an emotionally safe, judgement-free environment for teens to explore their thoughts, feelings, and experiences. Through storytelling and self-expression, they can gain a deeper understanding of themselves and their struggles, leading to increased self-awareness and personal growth. Narrative therapy promotes autonomy, as it encourages teenagers to recognize their ability to make choices and influence their narrative, which empowers them to take a more active role in supporting and nurturing their mental health. Research confirms that young people are hardwired to make sense of the world through stories. A narrative therapist aims to help young people challenge their stories and encourage them to widen their view by considering alternative stories. Narrative therapy offers a powerful framework for promoting teen mental health.
For Information and Support
Every family in need of mental health treatment must select a program that will best suit the needs of their family. When one member of a family struggles, it impacts everyone in the family unit. To maximize the benefits of treatment we work closely with the entire family to ensure that everyone is receiving the support they need through these difficult times.
Seeking help is never easy, but you are not alone! If you or someone you know needs mental health treatment, we strongly encourage you to reach out for help as quickly as possible. It is not uncommon for many mental health difficulties to impact a person’s life, long term. Pursuing support at the beginning of one’s journey can put the individual in the best position to learn how to manage themselves in a healthy way so they can go on to live happy and fulfilling lives.
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