Narrative psychology - what is it, features of the approach

Psychology and psychiatry are scientific fields that are rapidly developing at the present stage of history. New techniques are constantly emerging , new approaches are being developed. Society is changing, and its psychology is changing along with it. That is why there is a need for psychotherapeutic methods to develop further.

Many experts say that at the moment psychiatry and psychology are now on the verge of great changes, as special methods of narrative psychotherapy are now gaining increasing popularity. Some people consider the relatively new methods to be truly magical.

At the same time, supporters of classical psychotherapy defend their conservative ideas, declaring that simply asking questions cannot achieve results.

Usually, narrative writers take on the problems of even terminally ill people who were previously abandoned by other doctors. Narrative practices indeed demonstrate high effectiveness in treating various psychological problems - even the most complex ones.

What is the secret of narrative psychology, how narrative psychotherapy appeared and was formed, and what the narrative approach is, will be discussed in this article.

What is a narrative?

Narrative (English and French - narrative, Latin - narrare) is a linguistic act, the client’s transmission of interconnected stories and life events. Based on these stories, the therapist helps the client find a solution to his problem and look at it from a different angle. Thanks to dialogue and correctly asked questions, new opportunities open up for the client.

The origin of this term is associated with the famous authors Australian Michael White and New Zealander David Epston. They published a book in 1990 called Narrative Means for Achieving Therapeutic Goals. In their book, they reveal the importance of customer stories. How exactly do they tell them, what do they attach great importance to, what events are endowed with positivity and negativity...

How to Avoid Falling for Reverse Psychology Tricks

The main advice on how to resist reverse psychology yourself is simple and complex at the same time.

It is very important to control emotions and be able to stop if you feel that based on them you are making decisions that should have been made based on a logical assessment of the situation, a critical approach, etc. Developing social and emotional intelligence can also help you with this.

So, if you feel like you're being taken for a show, if your decisions are too obviously aimed at acting contrary to someone else's words, etc., stop for a moment. Do not make a final decision or take action while under the influence of strong emotions. First, cool down, and then weigh and calculate everything again.

The most important thing here (and the most difficult thing) is to understand when to take a time out

and come to your senses, distance yourself from other people’s opinions. This can be prevented by all the same seething feelings that drown out logic and the voice of reason and force us

And one more note: if you decide that this method is being used on you, do not rush to immediately accuse the person of manipulation. As we said, sometimes such processes occur completely unconsciously, and on both sides. But you shouldn’t completely lose sight of such cases either - it’s better to be careful with both conscious and unconscious manipulators

, before they burden you with their problems and shift their tasks too much. If this does happen, you may find our tips on how to refuse people useful.

Narrative approach

It was then, in the years 1970-1990, that a transformation took place in psychology, psychotherapy and psychiatry. A narrative approach was developed. This approach was and is considered a “magic pill”. Until now, psychologists and psychiatrists are surprised by the results of the narrative method. Narrators, by asking simple questions, heal clients and help them overcome very difficult life situations. Suddenly children find freedom from their fears, husband and wife find inspiration in each other again, and the elderly find strength and joy for a new day. The question arises: what is the secret of this “magic remedy”? And where does this name come from?

Narrates is translated from Latin as story, narration. The essence of this method is the emphasis on the client's story, his story and how exactly it is told. This speaks about a person’s perception of the life experience gained. All people constantly tell some stories, be it school, graduation, a new acquaintance, university, wedding, birth of a child... Different people and different stories... These stories add up to a sequence of events. And in each of these events a theme is revealed. And actually this theme is the essence of man.

Often people, when telling stories, give themselves certain traits and characteristics. Courage, cowardice, stupidity, arrogance, pride...

At an appointment with a practitioner, clients tell their story. And the therapist identifies in this situation not only the problem field, but also finds a positive that the client does not notice. This story is being worked through and the therapist writes a new positive story into it.

The essence of the approach

1. separation of a person and his problem. The need for the client to realize that a person is a person, and an action is an action. The therapist helps you understand that a person is good, but an action can be bad. And this action, this situation can change self-perception. A person may stop seeing his true values ​​and goals for some time.

2. considering the problem field from a different angle;

3. identifying an alternative situation and new behavior.

Narrative therapists, unlike specialists in other areas of psychology and psychotherapy, consider a person and his personal qualities separately from each other. If an individual considers himself lazy, then this dooms the person himself to live with these qualities and not fight. Because overcoming negative traits requires incredible strength. It’s easier to leave everything as it is, well, that’s how bad I am.


Narrative text analysis:

  • Explores how people create and use stories to interpret the world.
  • Does not consider stories as a source of information about the real world and human experience.
  • It implies that narrative is an interpretation, a version of life through which people form an identity, self-present themselves, and understand the world and other people.

Characteristics of data collection:

  • qualitative approach (e.g. semi-structured and unstructured interviews);
  • the analyst speaks little, his main role is to listen;
  • there is no preference between imaginary and real stories.

Narrative analysis is based on the principles of structural analysis, so any schemes that allow you to highlight significant elements in it can be used to work with text. The Labov method is one of the most popular among researchers.

Narrative analysis is a promising research method that allows you to reveal the text and get closer to the real motives and desires of the narrator. Criticism of the narrative approach is related to the complexities of the interpretation process.

The importance of narrative analysis for people cannot be overestimated. It is thanks to narrative analysts that a person can take an honest look at his motives and goals, understand how he slows himself down, what kind of self-image he has

Honesty and understanding your limitations are the basis for a happy and fulfilling life.

How does the narrative approach work in psychology?

Most problems, even “incurable” ones, can be solved using a narrative approach:

— Family: relationship in a couple, between spouses and their children, relatives.

— Intrapersonal: violation of self-esteem, low efficiency, shame, resentment, lack of meaning in life.

— Organizational: creating good relationships in communities and organizations, learning to avoid conflicts.

— Social: work with non-observance and oppression of human rights, with violence, with victims of car accidents and natural disasters, support for relatives and friends of victims. Narrative therapy is also provided to people with terminal illnesses. And the results are amazing! People gain inner freedom, even if the disease itself does not disappear. They learn not to survive with it, but to live!

The new approach has no contraindications or limitations. People of different age categories and religions, with different professions and outlooks on life can turn to specialists. From teenager to elderly. Everyone will find a solution to their problems. Each of them will see the light at the end of the tunnel. And problems with choosing a profession, first love, academic failure, relationships with parents and friends, fear of life or death will not be problems.

Narrative approach. Practical part

The practice of narrative therapy is sometimes funny, humorous, comical, sometimes very cheerful and light, which is why the client’s problems dissolve and soap bubbles burst.

So how do you resolve difficult life situations? How are events rewritten? And where does the new story begin? Here is an example from the practice of the narrative approach.

A mother and a six-year-old boy came for a consultation with a narrative therapist. The mother complained that the child did not want to stay home alone. She perceived it as a whim, a manifestation of her ego. According to her, the baby requires too much attention to himself. Due to the fear of being left without mom and dad, the child did not communicate not only with other adults, but even with peers.

The mother had previously turned to psychologists, but everyone unanimously argued that the child had a lack of attention and an inability to restrain his emotions. The specialists could not help with their diagnoses.

Hoping for even the slightest help, my mother turned to a narrative practitioner.

The specialist began a conversation with the baby. He asked simple questions, separating the child and his emotions: “It seems like Impatience and Hysteria are getting the better of you. It's hard for you to cope with Them. Especially when things don’t go the way you want.” The therapist understands that the boy's emotions are causing him discomfort because his parents are unhappy with him. He does not give his assessment and, in particular, does not make a diagnosis, but puts people at ease. Next, the therapist asks whether the baby wants to cope with this situation. And the boy said yes. The baby understands that if he learns to play alone without mom and dad, he will be able to play with other children. The boy even remembered that there were times when he was left alone in the room after his mother read him a bedtime story, and he felt very scared, but he was brave, convincing himself that everything was fine. And he managed to fall asleep.

How are stories rewritten? What questions help you look at situations differently?

The narrative practitioner clarifies what is happening now and what the person will choose to do next. The very first action is considered. Then intentions, goals, values ​​and gets to the important principles from which life itself is built. Questions are asked regarding new beliefs: what the client hopes for, what he is going to do in the future, what beliefs were there before and what has changed.

Questions asked by a narrative practitioner:

— the person’s ATTITUDE to the problem becomes clear: How do you like it?

- there is a JUSTIFICATION for dissatisfaction: Why do you feel this way about it?

- the person himself finds a SOLUTION to the problem: How would you like to react?

- supports the client, instills confidence that his SKILLS AND ABILITIES are sufficient to cope with the problem: What skills and abilities of yours can help you with this?

How to use reverse psychology

If you decide to use this technique, remember: it can indeed be quite effective, but only if you use it correctly.

When to use

First of all, it is important that the use of reverse psychology goes unnoticed. Perhaps this is the most important principle

If your manipulation fails but is not detected, you can always try something else. If you are “discovered,” it will be much more difficult to act further, and there is a chance that trust in you and your words, in principle, will significantly decrease. Therefore, experiment very carefully at first.

It is also important not to overdo it with this technique. Otherwise, it will simply stop working for those to whom you use it too often (but there are exceptions to this)

Who to use it on

Determine in advance on whom from your environment reverse psychology is most likely to work, and on whom you should not even try

. Consider in what situations this technique would be appropriate and how often such situations arise. For example, a good candidate would be a teenager with whom you somehow need to interact, but with whom you often argue (that is, in your relationship, situations are frequent when he is overwhelmed by emotions, and therefore, critical perception fades into the background).

Or maybe your significant other reacts very strongly to certain topics? Then, when the opportunity arises, you can tease him/her a little (to make emotions stir), and then try to use reverse psychology.

There are options when reverse psychology puts pressure on emotions, but not in the heat of a quarrel. For example, you can say: “Darling, I’m not at all offended that you still haven’t hung up the picture. Don’t worry, I’ll hang it myself later.” The main condition is that your words should not contain even a hint of sarcasm or causticity (and this phrase should be used appropriately). Just indicate your intention: you remove this task from your husband and take it upon yourself. There is a good chance that in this way you will both remind you of the picture and offer a solution on how to act.

Of course, some will be happy to be able to cross a painting off their to-do list. For others, the advice will begin to gnaw, and they will “decide” that it’s really time to take up and tell this picture themselves. If your spouse belongs to the second category, then it makes sense for you to use reverse psychology. If we are talking about a person of the first type, then after such words you will definitely have to do the painting yourself.

How to use

The first attempts to use reverse psychology in everyday life should show you how well you can do it, whether you have correctly identified the people and situations where it can work.

hone your skills

It is known that manipulators (in this case we are talking about those who manipulate on a conscious level) represent a certain type of personality. If you think that you have too few traits of this type, this also means that you will not be able to use manipulative techniques. Perhaps you just need to work on yourself, including learning to better calculate other people's reactions to your words and read their emotions. Our tips on developing emotional and social intelligence can help with this. These skills will be useful not only for using reverse psychology techniques and will definitely not be superfluous.

Narrative psychotherapy.

Using the questions above, you can help yourself without contacting a specialist.

Contraindications to the use of this technique: serious psychological trauma and clinical diagnoses.

In other matters, you can safely proceed to this method.

Narrative practices

The approach to narrative psychotherapy helps the client take an active position in solving the problem. He does not resign himself to his bad self, but considers the situation in an alternative world. He himself is looking for a way out of the current situation, which prompts him to be responsible for his actions and consequences.

PS The narrative approach is a very young method in psychology. But, despite this, it is already used in 47 countries around the world, which is 50 thousand practitioners. There are more than 1000 narrative specialists in Russia, but the number of specialists is growing every year. Conferences are held every year. Facebook and other sites constantly provide new information, publish books and magazines, and translate materials from foreign sources. Beginners and those simply interested are recommended to read Michael White's book Maps of Narrative Practice.

Reviews and comments

If you have any questions, share them in the comments to this article. We will also be happy to accept your arguments in favor or against the narrative approach.

Author: Ekaterina Panikova

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Key words:1Psychoregulation

Operating principle

Narrative practice (therapy) uses a number of principles, regardless of the specificity of the session:

  1. Externalization is taking a problem outside. It can be personified, given a separate name or a full name. The client must analyze it and establish a cause-and-effect relationship. Also voice how the problem affected the person, and the person affected her.
  2. Deconstruction - the client realizes that he is the author of the plot. This is confirmed by concretizing a person’s worldview, which formed the vision of history. The subjective view is proven.
  3. Working with witnesses - participants in the situation are invited to the session so that they can tell the story from their side. The central individual also asks about his impressions of his personal story. If there is no possibility of real communication, then the client can try to imagine himself as another person, to look through someone else’s eyes.
  4. Online communities are organized where a person shares his story, and others share their views and similar experiences. In this way, knowledge is exchanged; the client understands that he is not the only one who finds himself in such a situation; The therapist's opinion does not seem entirely correct.

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