Narrative Therapy


Tokyo Mental Health is here to support you and provide you with the help you need.

Narrative Therapy

Narrative therapy was developed by Michael White during 1970s-1980s. Narrative therapists believe “The person is not the problem; the problem is the problem.” Narrative therapists view people as the expert of their own life, and that the role of the therapist is to assist the person by helping them map the direction of their own healing process.


One of the most important features of narrative therapy is the client`s creation of personal stories from their life experience. We all have different stories in various areas of our life including stories of struggles, relationships, family, and about our culture. We give these stories meaning and the stories shape our identities. According to narrative therapists, there is no “objective reality”. People create a reality that makes sense to them. A narrative therapist will assist clients in exploring how dominant discourses affect their stories. They will then challenge that discourse by working with the client to reauthor their story. Narrative therapists believe that people already have the ability and skills needed to reduce their distress. Their objective is to lead clients to identify these skills.

narrative therapy bannar image

Techniques in Narrative Therapy

There are some key techniques and concept narrative therapists use and hold. Here are some common elements:

  • Externalization – Externalizing problems, by doing things such as naming problems, helps make problems meaningful and easier to accept. Separating the person and the problem helps people to be their true self.
  • Deconstruction – This is the process of therapists asks questions to clarify what is behind the client’s stories. This reduces the frustration and pain and thereby helps clients understand the root of the problem and see the whole picture more clearly.
  • Unique outcomes – Identifying unique outcomes can help the client see the various potential stories that they might otherwise ignore. It also helps clients identify unrecognized skills and abilities.
  • Re-authoring stories – Clients are able to identify different identities, and choose what they wish to include in their stories.
  • Collaboration – Narrative therapists do not impose ideas on clients or give advice to clients. They ask genuine questions because they are curious about client’s stories.

Narrative Therapy - Benefits and Limitations

Benefits Limitations
This approach aims to empower clients and increase self-awareness through exploring the narrative or ‘story’ of one's life
Might not be suitable for clients who have difficulty in guiding the direction of sessions
There is evidence that it is effective for those who have experienced trauma
Can require more long-term commitment depending on individual needs
There is a focus on discovering and highlighting strengths which can be useful for clients who want to explore their self-image
Initially, narrative therapy might be challenging due to its roots in philosophical ideas, especially the language used to convey concepts within the therapy