We are not able to control what has happened to us in the past and what trauma we have experienced, but we can control how we move forward. The power over our healing process belongs to us, even if we don’t feel like it does.
There are different approaches we can take with guidance from a professional to rewrite our history and create outcomes that are conducive to our process of growth. It is important to understand that not everyone’s journey is the same, and we are all on different timelines. If we can focus on our own progress and not compare ourselves to others, we will be free to experience the best personal results.
What Is Narrative Therapy?
Narrative therapy is an alternative approach to dealing with past trauma. This method allows us to tell our side of the story as we feel works best for us. Certain language and dialogue can be used to make us feel empowered and help us regain our sense of agency.
In narrative therapy, the therapist will be respectful, never place blame on the client, and allow them to feel like they are leading the session while the therapist keeps them on track. Common questions the therapist can ask to guide the session may include:
- Should we keep talking about this aspect of your life, or would you like to move on to something different?
- How do you feel your conversation about your story is going? Does it feel valid to you?
To get the most out of narrative therapy, we need to stay open-minded and be willing to ask and receive questions that might be difficult to answer. Narrative therapy gives us the authority to express ourselves and our true feelings without feeling like we have to filter ourselves for the sake of others.
Benefits of Narrative Therapy
Many of us may have felt powerless due to the trauma we experienced. This trauma could have contributed to our struggle with substance abuse, making us feel like our lives are out of control. In many instances when we reflect on our memories, we may feel like those who wronged us have the upper hand.
Narrative therapy helps us unlearn thought patterns rooted in powerlessness. It can then help us replace those patterns with a sense of agency that can help us make decisions in our best interest moving forward. This practice can improve our mental health and help us heal from our past. The aspect of storytelling can be extremely effective among those struggling with substance abuse, especially adults facing their addictions.
As we become more at peace with our past, we can develop more empathy with ourselves and not feel like addiction was our fault. We can start to see that addiction is a disease just like any other, and we are allowed to treat ourselves with patience and love.
At the same time, we can understand how events in our lives influenced us and become more active protagonists in our stories. This can help us be less susceptible to negative influences and feelings of powerlessness. It can reveal ourselves to us as motivated, capable, and proactive people.
Types of Narrative Therapy
The most common form of narrative therapy consists of sitting with a therapist as we verbally explain our story on our terms. However, this type of therapy can take on different forms as well.
For example, narrative therapy can look like writing a poem or song that isn’t for anyone else to read but us. This can help us unlock our raw emotions, leading us to understand how we truly feel about our situations. It can be easy to let the opinions of others sway how we outwardly describe a situation. Once we take that pressure away, we open ourselves to arrive at the core of our trauma and take it back as our own.
We can also journal our narrative therapy and use our writing as a reference to look back on and see how we have grown. It can be important to track our progress, and it is helpful to see how far we have come. We can also incorporate art into our narrative therapy. Our truth can shine through in our paintings, drawings, music, and other creations.
Other Forms of Therapy
Narrative therapy can be combined with other types of therapy to yield even greater results. One form of therapy that is often combined with narrative therapy is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). This form of therapy helps us change the way we think about certain things in life and how we feel about ourselves. If we can change the unproductive patterns in our thoughts into productive ones, we can put ourselves on track toward improving our mental health and becoming however we want to be.
Numerous treatments can positively impact our recovery. Choosing suitable therapies can help us improve our mental health long-term. Staying sober can seem like a daunting task at times, but with support from therapists, true healing, and personal growth, we can learn to enjoy substance-free lives. Narrative therapy helps us rewrite our past with traumatic events, rediscover our agency, and take back what is ours emotionally. This type of therapy can be heavy and should be done respectfully with an open mind. Narrative therapy allows us to lead our therapy sessions with the guidance of a therapist. We talk about what we want for as long as we want. Narrative therapy can also be expressed through art, music, and journaling. Narrative therapy has many benefits and can help us in our healing process. Call 449 Recovery to learn more at (949) 435-7449.
Dr. Warren Taff MD, graduated from the University of Birmingham, England School of Medicine, with a BA from Rutgers University. He then went on to UCLA School of Public Health in Los Angeles Health and Human Services and received an MPH. He also attended an internship in internal medicine, with the Veterans Administration. Dr. Taff’s residency includes General Psychiatry at USC, with elective residencies at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney, Australia, and Royal College of Psychiatry. Board certifications include American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. Dr. Taff has extensive experience in both psychiatry and addiction medicine, extending from 1979 to present. He has held professional titles that include Chief of Staff and Medical Directorship in both hospitals and private sectors.