Narrative Therapy for Women in Massachusetts

As you go through life and experience various interactions and events, you give meaning to them and they also influence how you see yourself and the world. You can have numerous stories at one time, such as those that are related to your self-esteem, capabilities, work, and relationships.

There is mental health treatment for women in Massachusetts at Lightwork Therapy and Recovery. You can gain insight into the story of your life. Narrative therapy can help you create a new narrative.
Psychologist talking with her depressed patient

What is Narrative Therapy?

During the 1970s and 80s narrative therapy was developed by Michael White and David Epston from Australia and New Zealand, respectively. Since it’s a more modern type of treatment, a lot of people may not know much about it, but people can learn and benefit from this approach.

Narrative therapy is a theory of psychotherapy that looks at “externalization” (openly expressing feelings or ideas in words or actions)  and works to help patients acquire insight into their problems by separating the person and their past experiences from the problem. The goal is to help people apply their:

  • Lifetime of personal strengths
  • Personal successes and victories
  • Examination of their sense of purpose

By using these narrative tools, individuals can solve problems and make decisions in ways that are compatible with their values and sense of purpose.

White and Epston believed that people are not their problems. This was a key element of their development of the treatment. In sessions, they helped patients separate from their problems and understand that the problems didn’t define them.

By using narration exercises and other methods, patients use their skills to solve their problems and build a healthier and more effective story. With the assistance of narrative therapists, this type of therapy shows patients that they control many features of who they are and what they can achieve.

What’s the Difference between Narrative Therapy and Traditional Talk Therapy?

To put it simply, traditional talk therapy for women’s mental health tends to be more focused on relationships while narrative therapy focuses on individuality and externalization. Although narrative therapy is talk therapy, most people use the term “traditional talk therapy” to refer to person-centered therapy. Narrative therapy relies heavily on the patient’s personal narrative such as personal strengths, life story, etc. They then use that to help them externalize themself from their problem and see the problem as a manageable, separate entity.

Common Narrative Therapy Techniques

Narrative therapy enables a person to tell their life story to attain and create their own skills to solve problems and change their future. Early in therapy, the individual may be asked to separate themself from their symptoms, unwanted beliefs, and external problems.

The patient and therapist can then discuss the problem as part of a story. This helps people deepen their understanding of themself. By turning the problem into a story, people feel less defensive about it, making an exploration of the emotional pain and possible solutions less intimidating and challenging. Below are the steps commonly used in narrative therapy for solving problems.

What Are the 5 Stages of Narrative Therapy?

These are the 5 steps used for patient success in narrative therapy. Although these are referred to as steps or stages, they can be used in a non-linear manner.

A goal of narrative therapy is to help people reframe and rewrite their story. When they can shift their perspectives or viewpoints, they can create different stories and compare the two for understanding. Narrative therapy is a positive practice of psychology so the goal is not only to increase the skill of creating new storylines but also to find the most helpful of the client’s outcomes.

This is also known as re-storying or re-authoring. Building narratives involves repeating life experiences into stories and telling their life stories to the therapist numerous times. This way, the patient can see each story externally, separating the storyteller from the story.

The conflicts and patterns in the stories can make a major story feel overwhelming. Therapists use deconstruction techniques to help reduce the extent and proportion of problems and identify their root causes. This allows patients to take large-scale problems and view them as manageable.

Existentialism involves letting go of the belief in built-in meanings. Discovering a sense of purpose is important for mental health, but some people adhere to purpose and meaning from a single story. Through narrative therapy, people learn they can create meaning and purpose for themselves.

In narrative therapy, people are encouraged to externalize questionable stories from their identity. This could involve practicing positive self-talk and analyzing their personal traits in the stories. By observing separate storylines that include a certain trait, patients can distinguish it from a complex and baffling part of their identity.

Narrative Therapy for Anxiety

Anxiety disorders  in women are real, serious medical disorders and are the most common mental disorders in the U.S. Women are almost twice as likely to be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder than men. Research shows that anti-anxiety medications shouldn’t be used long-term because of potential side effects and the risk of addiction. Talk therapy, like narrative therapy, provides an alternative treatment for managing or overcoming anxiety.

Every person affected by anxiety has a special relationship with it. It may be a captor that keeps you from enjoying life and steals your sleep. But sometimes there are moments when anxiety doesn’t have its way. This story may offer memories of abilities, skills, beliefs, or values that are important in finding the way forward. Narrative therapy doesn’t treat you like a disorder but as a source of knowledge and experience.

Narrative Therapy for Depression

Depression is a mood disorder that is more common among women than men. This is probably due to biological, hormonal, and social factors that are more prevalent in women. Narrative therapy gives depressed individuals the freedom to choose alternative stories that line up with their beliefs and values instead of the problem story that has been forced on them. The alternative stories can give them a feeling of control, appreciation, and growth.

Through this, people can rediscover their personal strength and their individual solution to defeat the problem. In therapy sessions, people with depression will work with an experienced therapist who will help them recognize negative thought patterns and reshape their narratives to emphasize their strengths and abilities instead of their weaknesses.

Narrative Therapy for Trauma

Women are usually exposed to more interpersonal trauma than men and frequently at a younger age. This can result in a greater negative impact on their lives. Narrative therapy is a possible treatment method for women who have had repeated experiences of violence and abuse within their intimate relationships. Therapists prompt discussion of unique outcomes which are times of strength, autonomy, and emotional strength buried in life stories that are soaked with suffering and oppression otherwise. This opens up possibilities for building new life narratives.

3 Benefits of Narrative Therapy

Advantages of taking part in narrative therapy include:

  • Displacing blame: The narrative process in therapy encourages patients to let go of self-blame and avoid blaming others when telling their stories. The non-blaming method focuses on identifying and changing unhelpful and unwanted stories about themselves and others.
  • Promotes respect: Narrative therapy inspires patients to be themselves and separate their identities from their problems. Individuals in narrative therapy are treated with respect and supported for their bravery. A respectful approach to treatment allows them to understand that their problems don’t define them.
  • The patient is the expert: Narrative therapy believes that patients know themselves well. Therapists don’t give advice but are a partner who collaborates in helping patients grow and heal. Narrative therapy helps people build a strong feeling of personal agency, courage, and power.

These benefits have been shown to:

  • Reduce anxiety and depression significantly
  • Increase self-esteem
  • Increase problem-solving abilities
  • Improve resiliency
  • Improve overall satisfaction with life
  • Improve moods
  • Add to overall personal growth and development

Narrative Therapy at Lightwork Therapy and Recovery

Lightwork Therapy and Recovery in Woburn, MA can help you begin to understand and rewrite your narrative. Narrative therapy is a powerful approach that can provide practical solutions to enhance your self-esteem and improve your overall well-being.

We are a gender-specific treatment center for women because it’s more common for women to suffer from depression, anxiety, and trauma, and we know that men may be at the root of the issues for many women.

At Lightwork, we can offer you two outpatient treatment programs so you will receive the appropriate level of care:

  • Day Treatment Program–This is a comprehensive structured program that is less intensive than residential, but more than standard outpatient.
  • Outpatient Program–This program provides a more flexible option for women with less severe issues or who are stepping down from a higher level.

Our caring, experienced therapists are professionally trained and equipped to help you rewrite your story. Contact us today.

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