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Narrative thinking and the emergence of postpsychological therapies

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Abstract

The growing emergence of an appreciation of the significance of narrative, within philosophy, the social sciences and the humanities, has had a significant impact on theory and practice within the field of counseling and psychotherapy. The influence of narrative thinking has been felt in two main ways. First, concepts of narrative have been assimilated into established forms of practice. For example, within psychoanalysis and psychodynamic therapy, it is now accepted that attention to narrative structures within the discourse of therapy can be used to generate a fuller understanding of the operation of well-known phenomena such as transference. The primary intention of this area of work has been to utilise narrative concepts to permit a deeper understanding of existing ideas about therapeutic processes and procedures. Second, a quite separate set of developments has seen the construction of an approach to therapy which begins from an acknowledgement of the central role of narrative and storytelling in lives and relationships. This alternative approach, generally described as “narrative therapy”, can be characterised as the formation of a postpsychological approach to therapy, which focuses on issues surrounding the performance of narratives within relationships, community and culture, rather than on inner psychological processes within individuals. It is argued that postpsychological narrative therapies have the potential to address key contemporary personal and social dilemmas in ways that are not possible within individualist models of therapy.

References

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