What Utahns Should Know about Narrative Therapy

What Utahns Should Know about Narrative Therapy

Narrative therapy is an approach to psychotherapy that emphasizes the harm that occurs when the story of our lives is dominated by a particularly destructive narrative. The primary method of therapy then becomes the therapist and client investigating past events together looking for places where the current narrative doesn’t fit and where a more positive, competing narrative can take hold.

For this reason, it’s crucial to find a therapist you can connect with. Someone you can trust is letting new narratives unfold organically, rather than projecting their own biases. The good news is it shouldn’t be hard. Therapists are trained to offer a clinical setting and style of dialogue that specifically promotes this type of honest collaboration.

Choosing a Therapist

Know that if you go looking for a narrative therapist in Utah, your options are going to seem limited. That’s because this therapy is primarily viewed as a therapeutic method, rather than a comprehensive approach to psychotherapy. In other words, most therapists think of narrative therapy as one more tool in the toolbox to helping their clients achieve their mental health goals. Thus, you can get an overview of narrative therapy, but if you’re interested in this type of therapy as a personal treatment, look for a therapist who describe themselves as eclectic, client-centered, or holistic.

Common Narratives in Utah

Competing narratives can occur on both a personal and cultural level with no set rules about which narratives may be harming and which may be able to help your mental health goals. Likewise, different narratives may intersect in complex ways that are best explored with the support of a narrative therapist

  • Many families in Utah have serious disagreements about their spiritual beliefs and attitudes. Many families have serious disagreements about the social, political, and economic influences that impact their daily lives and those of their friends and neighbors. Narrative therapy can help family members learn to disarm the tension within this larger cultural narrative by continually refocusing on the personal narrative that has made the family so strong in the past.
  • At the same time, there’s no denying that some people get the short end of the stick from their family and life history. With comparatively little to hang their hat on from the standpoint of personal narrative, finding positive meaning in a larger cultural narrative becomes increasingly important. This typically includes connecting with relevant social groups and support systems. Old and new, family can come from many places.
  • Other types of narrative therapy have less to do with competing narratives and more to do with reclaiming the ability to tell one’s personal story at all. Traumatic stress, for example, can disrupt our brain’s episodic memory and language center so that it becomes difficult to describe even basic details about our past events. Yoga, meditation, and acupuncture may all be used to help someone reach a place that is safe and secure enough to reclaim a narrative meaning to their lives.

The Role of Choice

In the mental health community, the primary criticisms of narrative therapy are often centered on the notion that competing narratives lead to a relativistic worldview that may be harmful to long-term mental health goals. This explanation is overly simplistic, but it does point to a critical element of success for people who are interested in this particular approach to therapy: Choosing a more positive narrative for one’s life.

This isn’t to say choosing a narrative for one’s life is easy. If it were, you probably wouldn’t be thinking about therapy at all. But even when the choice feels like an impossible one, even when it doesn’t feel like a choice at all, there is a different tale that can be told. And that’s because the choice is nowhere near as difficult as it seems right now. By talking to a therapist who can help you investigate and then recast life events, the richness of alternative narratives should become more evident—as does the viability of choosing a different story that gives meaning to your past, present, and future.

One final note on this subject: Because of the huge role that choice plays, some people also think of narrative therapy as a particular type of existential therapy.

Find Narrative Therapy in Utah

Like almost any approach to therapy, expect to put in some time working to improve your mental health. But know that reclaiming the power of narrative and channeling it toward your personal goals can be a life-saving, life-changing process. We encourage you to find a therapist in Utah who can help you explore the potential of this therapy for your life.

Marcus Pickett

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