Yes, you might say the closer I get to the end of this program, the more nervous I become. On one hand, it is exciting to think that I've made it this far. On the other, the reality is I am now (supposedly) to the point where all that I have absorbed in all those classes is supposed to be distilled enough that I can say with confidence, "I am going to be a [fill in the blank] counselor," where [the blank] includes my counseling theory of choice. True, I am getting closer to being able to pinpoint what kind of therapist I will be, but nothing is set in stone yet.
My previous blog entry was about William Glasser's reality theory. Today, I will share notes I took last night about narrative therapy.
Narrative therapy involves hearing interpretive stories the therapist views as truth. Dominant culture narratives are powerful, and individuals "internalize the messages from dominant discourses and form their identity around the positions to live from that these messages offer -- even if those positions are not useful to the individual." [That sentence is not worded very well but is lifted directly from my textbook!]
To me, this means we do things out of habit and because we've been conditioned to do them. Here is what Michael White, one of the originators of narrative therapy, believes: "a dominant discourse functions to perpetuate viewpoints, processes, and stories that serve those who benefit from that culture but that may work against the agency and life opportunity of the individual."
Gerald Corey (in the Theory and Practice textbook) goes on to say "power, knowledge, and 'truth' are negotiated in families and other social and cultural contexts." He seems to really respect the individual in therapy, which serves as "a reestablishment of personal agency from the oppression of external problems and the dominant stories of larger systems."
The stories each one of us tell about our lives are subjective; the realities in which we live involve people telling their own unique stories about the common lives they (we) live among each other, viewing the same world in different ways. The narrative therapist listens to clients' stories, trying to discern times in their lives when they were resourceful (living an alternative story, for example); he or she engages clients by using questions to facilitate their exploration. Of course, diagnosis and labeling is discouraged, as is "accepting a totalizing description based on a problem."
The idea of influence mapping is significant, and so is the ability "to assist clients in separating themselves from the dominant stories they have internalized so that space can be opened for the creation of alternative life stories." This is basically saying the therapist encourages the client to detach from the old painful stories in order to begin creating more fulfilling ones.
This fits right in with reality therapy, or "positive addiction" in the sense that there is more to life than just feeling less misery; to improve a person's life, he or she must do more than just "stop" feeling so miserable; "stories ... shape reality in that they construct and constitute what we see, feel, and do." Stories also "grow out of conversations in a social and cultural context."
We are all "courageous victors who have vivid stories to recount."