According to Gehart (2014), Dave Epston and Michael White of New Zealand developed the concept of narrative therapy. To expand more on this Epston and White also acknowledged another expert based on the Northcentral University or NCU Faculty (2019). Epston and White also indicated that a 20th century philosopher by the name of Foucault also contributed to the beginnings of this narrative model (NCU Faculty, 2019). In other words from the vantage point of Epston and White (NCU Faculty, 2019), narrative therapy captured the realities through the social environment.
Based on the social settings, this concept involved starting a premise leading to a story for the creation purposes in terms of life related events (Gehart, 2014). These life related events included dominant discourses (Gehart, 2014). Gehart (2014) referenced the dominant discourses as forms of culturally generated story-telling used to coordinate or rationalize social behavior. It focused on both clientele strengths and abilities (Gehart, 2014).
The therapeutic relational aspects included the client and therapists as co-authors and co-editors. At the same time, narrative family therapy focused on the relationship or relationships rather than the individual person (Combs & Freedman, 2016).
Still, Combs and Freedman (2016) worked to highlight the relational viewpoint instead of the individual aspects as a way to maintain the individual and familial household strengths. As for strengthening the family environment the NCU Faculty (2019) highlighted how White and Epston used cybernetics as a foundation for the narrative model. Experts described cybernetics as a way to change yet maintain an organizational function (NCU Faculty, 2019). Also, this foundational pathway also provided the foundation for the narrative concept (NCU Faculty, 2019) to strengthen families.
Methods Used by Therapists
From the Association for Advanced Training in the Behavioral Sciences or AATBS (2016), I noticed various methods or techniques (Merriam-Webster, n. d.) used by experts applying narrative therapy. At the same time, I observed each therapist from the three videos (Northcentral University, 2017) applying the concepts from the AATBS (2016). I noticed the applications via this assignment.
Also, I read about the problem description technique (AATBS, 2016). This technique involved taking the problem at hand while separating it from the family unit and/or family members by externalizing it. In each of the three videos presented by Northcentral University (2017), each therapist externalized the problem separate from the individual clients as an entity controlling their lives. I noticed in each of the videos (Northcentral University, 2017), it helped break the ice so the other party or other participants obtained a fair share in using one’s voice.
I noticed that in each of the videos presented by Northcentral University (2017) also included mapping the impact of the problem (AATBS, 2016); in other words, the therapist in each video brought up questions about the impact in different settings including home, school, and/or work). With the mapping (AATBS, 2016), I also noticed in the video that the therapist encouraged respective family members to develop the problematic story as authors or co-authors. In other words, the mapping technique provided opportunities for each party to obtain a voice while guided by the therapist. To keep each party engaged during the session, I noticed the therapist in each video (Northcentral University, 2017) brought up questions for each participant. These questions explored the positive and negative sides of the situation (AATBS, 2016). In other words, I observed each therapist using the method or technique of evaluations and justifications of the problem effects (AATBS, 2016).
Still, I observed in each video (Northcentral University, 2019) that the respective therapist worked with the clients in a collaborative manner throughout the entire process from start to end. From the videos (Northcentral University, 2019), I noticed each therapist worked the clientele in arriving at solutions along with developing the recognition aspects of the problems presented. Part of arriving at solutions included the identification of the unique outcomes for the family members (AATBS, 2016). In other words, I noticed each therapist successfully capitalized on the time periods when the problem played a minor part regarding family conflicts (Northcentral University, 2017). Then each of the therapists utilized these unique outcomes to help the family clients turn the page by considering other alternatives to these narratives (Northcentral University, 2017).
Given each of the three videos (Northcentral University, 2017), the respective therapist helped the family clientele develop a different or alternative narrative during the process (AATBS, 2016). In other words, the respective therapist of each video placed focus on restorying (AATBS, 2016). The concept of restorying involved helping the family clientele developed their own narrative, either alternative or preferred, to author their own unique outcomes or ending (AATBS, 2016). With this technique, the clients received that sense of empowerment and optimism in attacking the problem instead of letting the problem attack them (AATBS, 2016).
Plus, I noticed each of the therapists from the three videos (Northcentral University, 2017) utilized a scaffolding technique (AATBS, 2016). The scaffolding technique (AATBS, 2016) helped to challenge the family clientele based on the sessions presented in the videos (Northcentral University, 2017). As a way to solidify the narrative via AATBS (2016), scaffolding assisted family members to move from routine to a different level of understanding or perspective in order to change that narrative to a better place with therapeutic assistance.
After watching all three videos (Northcentral University, 2017) and reviewing the interventions associated with narrative family therapy (NCU Faculty, 2019), I noticed respective applications. I observed that each video demonstrated the respective therapists take a not-knowing approach (NCU Faculty, 2019) as one of the interventions. In other words, each therapist intentionally avoided any assumptions that they knew about the clients and their family lifestyles (Northcentral University, 2017). Personally, I never liked it when people thought they knew things about me. At the same time, I tried my best not to continue the vicious cycle of making assumptions about others. While my colleagues perceived me as nice, I looked at it as acting like a human being.
Another intervention I noticed in each of the videos (Northcentral University, 2017) included listening (NCU Faculty, 2019). I found it refreshing that the practitioners considered listening as an active communication type (NCU Faculty, 2019). Each of the therapist really demonstrated to discard any of their opinions or assumptions to consider the clientele perspective through the listening intervention (NCU Faculty, 2019). At the same time, I noticed each of the therapists from the three videos (Northcentral University, 2017) practice a different type known as deconstructive listening. In other words, each therapist noticed parts of the comments in need of clarification by using deconstructive listening also.
Given the three videos (Northcentral University, 2017), I observed that the respective therapist questioned the other party or participants while the main family member talked about the story. I noticed this intervention, witnessing structure (NCU Faculty, 2019) as an ice-breaker from my perspective. It captured an opportunity to provide a forum for other parties to participate and a get a voice during the family sessions (NCU Faculty, 2019).
Exploring Social Constructionism
In terms of exploring social constructionism more on my end, I thought about my time period as a family-based therapist. I engaged in social constructionism with 2 different family types as portrayed in the videos from Northcentral University (2017). The respective therapists worked to help the families arrive at their own group equilibrium to help them rise above these concerns (Northcentral University, 2017). To me, it appeared each couple captured certain dynamics just like certain couples from the videos presented (Northcentral University, 2017).
In terms of the second video, the same-sex couple captured certain intersections of females in a mixed Also, the couple continued staying involved with raising a teenage daughter while going through the loss of a family member and pet (Northcentral University, 2017). The family looked at their hardships and challenges as a dark cloud (Northcentral University, 2017). Yet, the therapist worked in collaboration with the family to arrive at a different perspective (Northcentral University, 2017). The therapist externalized the situation by taking the overall family feeling of depression and calling it this dark cloud (Northcentral University, 2017). The therapist worked with strengthening the family bond by reminding them to increase their utilization of coping skills such as more family movie nights to deal with the dark cloud (Northcentral University, 2017).
As for the third video from Northcentral University (2017), it appeared the heterosexual couple included an older man and younger female with three young kids. This couple grew apart due to work and family demands. Yet, they found the resilience to get back to a stable relationship through guided communication from the counselor. The counselor helped them explore what worked in the past and used it as a tool for positive change (Northcentral University, 2017).
I decided to select the first video of the couple (Northcentral University, 2019). To me, it appeared this couple captured an example of a vicious cycle. Still, it appeared to me that both parties felt the circumstances happened unintentionally but they got caught up in this cycle of not spending quality couple time together (Northcentral University, 2019). I outlined it in the following steps.
1. Husband and wife try parenting the kids the right way.
2. The couple focus on getting kids to various school gatherings.
3. After kids, wife false asleep early and misses time with husband.
4. Husband sleeps late on weekends and misses time with his wife.
5. Couple unable to get special time for them while raising kids.
Mental Health Recovery
Like the narrative approach, the mental health recovery process placed focus on the individuals in question instead of the problem (Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration or SAMHSA, 2012). In terms of both the mental health recovery process and the narrative approach, each party obtained the chance to contribute to problem-solving (SAMHSA, 2012). Through help of the therapist given the narrative approach or the mental health recovery process, clients arrived at the realization to focus on the positivity with the acceptance of changes happening beyond one’s control (SAMHSA, 2012). Both models provided opportunities for clients to reach their full potential in an empowering manner (SAMHSA, 2012).
Association for Advanced Training in the Behavioral Sciences (AATBS). (2016). MFT National Exam Preparation Volume 1 and 2. AATBS.
Combs, G., & Freedman, J. (2016). Narrative therapy’s relational understanding of identity. Family Process, 55(2), 211–224. https://doi- org.proxy1.ncu.edu/10.1111/famp.12216
Gehart, D. (2014). Mastering competencies in marriage and family therapy. Belmont, CA: Brooks-Cole, Cengage Learning.
Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). Method. In Merriam-Webster.com dictionary. Retrieved April 19, 2020, from https://www.merriam- ebster.com/dictionary/method
Northcentral University or NCU Faculty (2019). An Introduction to MFT systems theory and foundational models. Northcentral University or NCU (2017). Narrative therapy I, II, and III [Video File].
Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). (2012). SAMHSA Working Definition of Recovery. Rockville, MD.