narrative therapy

Types of Family Therapy: Narrative

As the professional understanding of mental health conditions continues to improve, a variety of postmodern management strategies have entered the arena. Narrative therapy for families is one of the most exciting new developments and can be particularly for helping clients to help themselves. For that reason, it is a great option when seeking sustained results.

But what exactly is narrative therapy for families and is it right for yours? Here’s all you need to know.

What is Family Therapy?

Family therapy is, unsurprisingly, a type of professional therapy that involves several family members. It invariably includes several elements of psychological counseling and should be facilitated by a licensed psychologist or therapist. It is usually a short-term process, with the average number of sessions needed for the process standing at just 12, although this can vary greatly. 

When considering types of family therapy, many people assume that it is solely focused on marriage therapy. On the contrary, it can be used to improve troubled relationships between all family members or help families support troubled members through addiction or severe mental health issues by staying united.

What is Narrative Family Therapy?

Narrative therapy is a style of therapy that was developed in the 1980s by Michael White and David Epston, It is designed to help individuals or families become experts in their narratives while understanding how their unique life stories have shaped them. It empowers clients by giving meaning to those experiences while simultaneously helping them think about the way they view themselves and the world around them.

When families sign up for narrative therapy, they can expect to undergo some of the following techniques:

Exploring Their Narrative

We are all shaped by our personal histories and learning to piece together the narrative of your life allows you to become an observer who can subsequently pinpoint the situations and interactions that have resulted in whatever mental health issues are at play. A deeper understanding of why you have placed certain meanings on different experiences can subsequently help make greater sense of the present and future.


Many mental health conditions are attributed in part to feeling overwhelmed. As such, the ability to externalize the narrative can make it easier to identify the changes that may be necessary while also making the journey ahead feel far less daunting. In family narrative therapy, externalization can cover both individual and group development. By creating this distance from the situations themselves, the sense of empowerment becomes greater.

Deconstructing the Narrative

Deconstruction can play an important role in the narrative therapy process for several reasons. When problematic narratives have been long-term features of their lives, clients will often feel incapable of finding a solution and may even worsen the situation in their own heads by adding outside elements to the narrative. By breaking it down into manageable chunks, challenging the narrative becomes easier. It also shows that not all aspects are bad.

Unlocking Personalized Outcomes 

It is impossible to change a narrative if the individual feels that it is set in stone. Consequently, then, this can hold a huge influence on all aspects of their life and future decision-making habits. Seeing narratives for their unique nature suddenly opens the door to possibilities and alternative paths. From there, the ability to change negatives into positives becomes far higher. It is unquestionably one of the breakthroughs that this therapy offers.

What Can Narrative Family Therapy be Used For?

Narrative therapy for families is still in its relative infancy but has been shown to have a positive influence in relation to a range of conditions. Ultimately, it can influence any mental health issue that has been influenced by personal experiences and the individual’s narrative – whether real or built inside their head. It is most commonly used as a part of the treatment plans for;

  • Anxiety,
  • ADHD,
  • Depression, 
  • Eating disorders,
  • PTSD.

Crucially, narrative therapy can be used on its own or in conjunction with other strategies. Likewise, it can be useful for helping individuals who suffer from addiction as well as mental health issues by actively targeting the underlying mental health conditions while the idea of focusing on a personal narrative may also encourage individuals to understand their past as well as their decision-making habits.

Better still, it can be adapted to focus on one family member’s problems or look at the interactions between different family members. 

What are the Benefits of Narrative Therapy?

Family narrative therapy offers a range of benefits for all parties. When families want to support a loved one through their difficulties, the opportunity to play an active role can make a huge difference. From seeing the progress made by the primary client to understanding their personal involvement in rewriting narratives, this type of management encourages increased confidence and assurance.

For the client, studies have shown that narrative therapy for families can result in self-reported reduced symptoms of anxiety while others have seen improvements in relationships, decision-making, and managing personal emotions. Additional reasons for choosing this type of therapy include but are not limited to;

  • In most cases, it focuses on short-term treatment plans that deliver quick progress and, more importantly, empower clients so that they can see lifelong rewards.
  • Narrative therapy is a collaborative approach that extends to support networks (family members) and avoids the authoritative approach seen in other methods.
  • It moves away from blaming the client or dwelling on the past and focuses on discovering ways to redefine their narrative in a positive way. 

Better still, it can be suitable for clients of all ages as well as families who want to support their children.

Peaks Recovery Can Help

Peaks Recovery offers a range of inpatient family programs if your family could benefit from narrative therapy. Services will be tailored to your family’s requirements and the conditions you wish to treat. 

Our friendly and highly professional experts in Colorado are here to help your family with fast and lasting results. To find out more, get in touch now.