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Narrative Therapy at New Directions: Empowering Women in Their Recovery Journey

At New Directions, one of the therapeutic techniques we are most passionate about is a  treatment called Narrative Therapy. This powerful approach, deeply rooted in being curious and co-navigating a woman’s authorship of her life.

What Is Narrative Therapy?

At its core, Narrative Therapy is a type of psychotherapy that is rooted in questions that allow one to re-examine other stories of their lives that may be true. What Narrative Therapy understands is that there is a focal point, a “problem story” that is gaining all of the attention and resources of an individual. Narrative therapy understands that there are conclusions made up about who we are either from what we believe to be true about ourselves or from what societal narratives dictate.  The stories enable individuals to reconnect with their values and the innate abilities linked to them. By understanding and embracing these values, women can confront their challenges head-on, both in treatment and in the future.

Narrative Therapy is not just about retelling our life story. It’s about re-authoring it. Together with your therapist, you’ll map your history and begin to rediscover other stories about yourself, inadvertently challenging any dominant narratives that may have impacted your life.

The Origins of Narrative Therapy

Developed in the 1970s and 1980s by Australian social worker Michael White and New Zealander David Epston, this therapy is not just a method—it’s a movement that empowers individuals to redefine their identities in positive, constructive ways. Although the roots of narrative work can be traced back to family therapy, its transformative power has made its mark in community work, schools, and even higher education. It emphasizes collaboration and a person-centered approach, aligning perfectly with our ethos at New Directions.

Key Aspects of Narrative Therapy:

  1. Re-authoring Identity: The narrative process focuses on enabling you to discover forl yourself new stories about your identity that serve you. It underscores the importance of the narratives surrounding our identity, which often dictate our perceived potential and limitations.
  2. Externalizing Conversations: In Narrative Therapy, we believe that problems don’t define you. By externalizing issues instead of keeping them internalized, you can objectively evaluate their impacts, dissect their influences, and choose your relationship with them.
  3. Statement of Position Map: Collaboration is at the heart of this approach. Using the “Statement of Position Map,” both therapist and client explore the challenges and achievements in the client’s life. This method emphasizes that you, the client, possess the insights and tools necessary to navigate your challenges.
  4. Re-membering Practice: This practice acknowledges that our identities are influenced by our social circle. It prioritizes people, or “members” of our lives that bolster positive self-perceptions and diminishes those that don’t.
  5. Absent but Implicit: Many times, pain, disappointment, or perceived failures are indicative of underlying values. Recognizing these values provides a fresh perspective on our experiences.

Why Narrative Therapy Is Ideal for Women in Recovery

For many women seeking treatment for substance use disorders, challenging societal narratives and external expectations is pivotal to recovery. At New Directions, we believe that empowering you to shape your story, on your terms, is vital to your journey. Narrative Therapy allows you to separate your identity from the challenges you’ve faced, emphasizing your strengths and potential.

Narrative Therapy isn’t just about addressing problems – it’s about revisiting your life narrative in a way that aligns with your values and aspirations. At New Directions, we are committed to ensuring that every woman finds her voice, her strength, and her path to recovery.

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Clinically Reviewed By:

Picture of Heather Black-Coyne, LMFT, CADC II, Chief Clinical Officer

Heather Black-Coyne, LMFT, CADC II, Chief Clinical Officer

Heather most recently served as the Clinical Director of a gender-specific treatment center in Huntington Beach. She is trained in both Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), which serve the needs of our clients, many of whom have experienced both complex trauma and substance use disorder.

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