Rewriting Your Story

By Cameron Stalhut

               I have a client that is currently struggling with internal thoughts of self-doubt, social anxiety, and seasonal depression. Although, we have worked through many different techniques during past sessions we are currently utilizing narrative therapy in an attempt to separate this client from his symptoms/problems. One major idea behind narrative therapy is that we are not identified through our problems. It can be easy to form an inaccurate view of one’s self by focusing on the negative events in our past. These negative memories or thin descriptions don’t show the entirety of who we are as a whole. This client has experienced many positive events throughout his life and furthermore, has helped many people through his current career. Our current goal during sessions is to rewrite his internal story by highlighting these victories in his past.

               We as individuals will go through highs and lows during our journey on this earth. Don’t let your failures define who you are. Look to the successes and the people you have helped or influenced. Seek out the positive memories to rewrite your story.

Resources:

For more information on Narrative Therapy consider reading the following book by Alice Morgan:

Morgan, A. (2000). What is Narrative Therapy? An easy to read introduction. Adeleide, South Australia: Dulwich Centre Publications.

               This book takes an in depth look into the philosophy behind Narrative Therapy and provides its practical application and techniques. Ideas such as externalizing the problem, identifying unique outcomes, deconstruction, and tracing the history and meaning of the unique outcomes are discussed in detail within its content.

Techniques to try at home: Narrative therapy

Re-writing your Story: One event can have many different interpretations. Take my client for example, from ages 15 through 25 he was heavily addicted to drugs and alcohol. Now, he could look back on this time in his life and interpret it as confirmation of his unworthiness. He could create an internal story of failure and undisciplined behavior that would ultimately lead to more self-loathing and insecurities. Or… he could interpret this past experience with triumph and pride. He was able to conquer his addiction after 10 years. Statistically, there is a higher percentage of people that lean toward their addiction after 10 years than rise above it. Another positive interpretation from this experience is the fact that he has gained knowledge that directly transfers into his current career of mentoring people in recovery. He has taken his experience and not only made a career out of it, but has found a way to aid others through their journey of addiction. Taking an alternative perspective of your past experiences will allow you to re-write your story, highlighting on the positive aspects.

For more techniques and interventions check out this webpage article by Courtney Ackerman:

Akerman, C. (2019). 19 Narrative Therapy Techniques, Interventions + Worksheets [PDF]. Positive Psychology Program https://positivepsychologyprogram.com/narrative-therapy/