Emerging out of the elements of post-modern philosophy that place a high importance on the language that people use in the creation of experienced reality, Narrative Therapy was jointly developed by psychotherapists Michael White and David Epston in the 1980s. Narrative Therapy holds that our identities are shaped by the accounts of our lives found in the “narratives” of our lives, both the stories we tell and ones that others tell about us. A narrative approach to counseling is interested in counselors helping their clients describe their stories, modes of living, and possibilities associated with the future. The therapy also investigates a problem's many influences, on the person themselves, on their family, and on other relationships.
The therapist is a collaborator with the client in the process of discovering richer and deeper narratives that emerge from descriptions of their experience, thus diminishing the power of the more shallow or "thin" narratives that are often times the problem-focused stories that clients first present with in therapy. This is done by engaging the client in their personal stories, or by looking at the greater cultural narratives they are drawn to in films, books, etc. The training the Narrative Institutes offers in Narrative Therapy focuses on theory and practical application in counseling, with particular note to situations and populations where Narrative Therapy has been shown particularly effective.
In addition, the Narrative Institute looks at how other “story based” psychotherapy approaches can be integrated with traditional narrative therapy. These other approaches most notably include the mythological and archetypal elements of Jungian Analysis and the reliance on therapist-given story and metaphor to facilitate therapeutic change that is a focus in Ericksonian/Solution-Focused therapies. We believe that when these other story-rich elements are integrated with Narrative Therapy, it create a fuller approach to working with people in counseling.