NCE – Narrative Family Therapy

What are stories?

A favorite self-help guru of mine is a narrative therapist.  Narrative therapy focuses on how we live our lives through a storied perspective.  events in our life are linked together into a plot that is imbued with a meaning and/or purpose.  The story reflects the meaning we give our life and the socially relevant manner in which we interpret.  How we tell the story and create it is the subject of therapy.  what have we edited out?  How is our live story constricted by a narrowed perspective.  what can be done to re-author it?  “Changing the language you use to describe experience can bring about new meanings that lead to meaningful action toward transformation” (Metcalf, 2011, p. 332).

What is Narrative Therapy?

Also referred to as “reauthoring therapy”, (Metcalf, 2011, p. 332), narrative therapy asserts that change happens by altering the meanings we give life experiences.  Our perceptions influence our interactions and behaviors.  The Narrative therapist assists clients to resolve their problems by helping them to separate themselves from the problems that keep them from a fulfilling life….They can reauthor their life with the narrative metaphor as a guide throughout the process.

Theoretical Assumption

  1. “Our lives are socially constructed” (Metcalf, 2011, p. 333)
  2. We organize our lives through stories – this leads to a narrated plotline” (Metcalf, 2011, p. 333)
  3.  The dominant discourse in our society powerfully influences what gets storied and how it gets storied” (Metcalf, 2011, p. 333)
  4. “Locating problems in discourses help us see people as separate from their problems” (Metcalf, 2011, p. 333)


  1. Externalizing Conversations – see the problem as separate from the self by not identifying with it.
  2. Deconstruction – Examining your perceptions as something that defines experiences.
  3. Internalizing Questions – each  asks questions while the other listens without responding” (Metcalf, 2011, p. 334).
  4. Unique Outcomes – divergent outlier experiences that do not coincide with the story we tell.
  5. Reauthoring – giving a lie experience new meaning. 
  6. Letter writing, definitional ceremonies

working Template

  1. Change – What does the voice of (your problem) tell you and how does this influence daily life?” (Metcalf, 2011, p. 338)
  2. “Rapport – You’re deciding if you’d like to open up your life to me. Are there things about me that its important for you to know?” (Metcalf, 2011, p. 338)
  3. “Presenting Issue – What are your expectations for yourself when the (problem intrudes your life?” (Metcalf, 2011, p. 339).
  4. Assessment of Dynamics: “So your view of yourself as a victim has harnessed you into isolating yourself from people…”(Metcalf, 2011, p. 339).
  5. Goals – “what would you call this thing that you’re struggling against?” (Metcalf, 2011, p. 339).
  6. Amplifying change – “As we work together to change the course of the problem, who can help to sustain the preferred story or identity?” (Metcalf, 2011, p. 340).
    g. Termination? – “What was most helpful?” (Metcalf, 2011, p. 340).


Metcalf, L, (2011). Marriage and family therapy: A practice oriented approach. New York: Springer Publishing Company

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