Narrative Therapy is an evidence-informed, solution-focused collaborative approach to counselling and community work, which centres people as “the experts in their own lives”. It acknowledges their unique experiences, contexts and perspectives and strives to respond in ways that “fit” for them and the lives they want for themselves and their families.
Developed by Michael White and David Epston, Narrative Therapy views problems as separate from people’s identities and assumes people have many skills, abilities, values, commitments, beliefs and capabilities to help them to get through their challenges. Through Narrative Therapy, young people and their families discover different ways of viewing themselves and their relationships, as well as finding alternative and unique responses to problems.
Centering people as “the experts in their own lives” is a cornerstone of all Skylark programs and services. We listen to the unique stories of young people and their families, assist them to identify challenges, engage them in an exploration of their skills and knowledge for resolving life’s difficulties and empower them to move forward in their lives.
Narrative Therapy also recognizes that difficulties may be related to issues of social injustice and provides opportunities to explore the impacts of broader concerns, such as race, gender and sexual orientation.
In the past in therapy I’ve felt like I was under a microscope, like a test subject, and that was not very humanizing… (in this way of working) I felt like I get to choose what to put under the microscope and then Amy (therapist) and I would look at it together… it was much more dignifying.
Skylark youth client – Narrative Therapy practice
At Skylark, we are committed to ideas and practices that reflect respect for difference. There are no ‘cookie cutter’ expectations for families or young people. Our approach highlights what people want for themselves and their lives; it relies on the recognition that there are many alternative routes to successful lives and relationships.
Brief Narrative Therapy is three-session approach through the Narrative Therapy world view. Over three, 1.5 hour long sessions, the participant benefits from ‘outsider witnesses’ who will witness the conversation the client has with a therapist.
Some things that people have reflected about the usefulness of having witnesses listen to their stories of suffering and the acts of resistance they have taken to stand up to problems:
- Gain new perspectives on one’s life and identity
- Reengage with neglected aspects of one’s own history
- Reconnect with the values and purposes for one’s life
- Think beyond what one routinely thinks
- Unearth small acts of resistance to problems
- Reacquaint with preferred parts of themselves