Narrative Therapy

A therapeutic approach that helps people reframe their life stories to gain new perspectives and find meaning.


Narrative Therapy is a form of psychotherapy that views people as separate from their problems. It focuses on the stories that people create to make sense of their life experiences. Through the process of externalizing the problem and reframing their narratives, individuals can identify their values, skills, and strengths to create an empowering alternative story. The therapist acts as a collaborator, helping the person explore and challenge dominant stories that may be limiting their potential for growth and change.

Did you know?

Well Me Right offers thousands of virtual and online health and wellness sessions from wellness experts, health coaches, and other holistic health and fitness professionals.

Browse and book a FREE discovery session with the world’s leading wellness experts & get advice over a video call.


Narrative Therapy was developed in the 1970s and 1980s by Australian social worker Michael White and New Zealand therapist David Epston. Drawing from various influences, including postmodern philosophy, social constructionism, and anthropology, they sought to create a non-pathologizing approach to therapy. White and Epston challenged the notion of therapist as expert and instead emphasized the client's expertise in their own life. They published their groundbreaking book, 'Narrative Means to Therapeutic Ends', in 1990, which laid the foundation for the widespread adoption of Narrative Therapy practices.


  1. Empowerment Narrative Therapy helps individuals reclaim authorship of their life stories, fostering a sense of agency and empowerment.
  2. Externalization By separating the person from the problem, Narrative Therapy allows individuals to address challenges without feeling defined by them.
  3. Strengths-Based The approach focuses on identifying and leveraging an individual's strengths, skills, and resources to create positive change.
  4. Culturally Sensitive Narrative Therapy respects and incorporates the cultural, social, and political contexts that shape a person's experiences and identity.
  5. Collaboration The therapist and client work together as a team, fostering a sense of trust, respect, and shared expertise in the therapeutic process.
  6. Versatility Narrative Therapy can be applied to a wide range of mental health concerns, including depression, anxiety, trauma, and relationship issues.

How It Works

Narrative therapy is a collaborative approach that empowers clients to reframe their life stories. Through conversations with a therapist, clients identify and challenge dominant, problem-saturated narratives that have shaped their identities and experiences. The therapist helps the client deconstruct these narratives, separating themselves from the problem and exploring alternative, more empowering stories. Techniques such as externalization, deconstruction, and re-authoring are used to help clients develop a more positive, resilient sense of self and build confidence in their ability to overcome challenges. The goal is to help clients become the experts in their own lives.


Narrative therapy may not be suitable for individuals seeking a more directive or structured approach, as it relies heavily on the client's active participation and willingness to engage in self-reflection. It may also not be appropriate for those requiring immediate crisis intervention or dealing with severe mental health issues that require a different treatment approach. The therapy's effectiveness may depend on the client's ability to verbalize their experiences and engage in abstract thinking. Some individuals might find the process of deconstructing and rewriting their narratives emotionally challenging or uncomfortable. It is essential to work with a qualified, experienced therapist who can provide a safe, supportive environment.

How Much It Costs

The cost of narrative therapy can vary depending on factors such as the therapist's qualifications, experience, location, and whether the sessions are in-person or online. On average, a 50-60 minute session with a licensed narrative therapist can range from $80 to $200. Some therapists may offer sliding scale fees based on a client's income or financial situation. Insurance coverage for narrative therapy varies, so it's essential to check with your provider about your specific plan's mental health benefits. Additionally, some community mental health centers, universities, or non-profit organizations may offer low-cost or free narrative therapy services.

Virtual & Online Options

Online narrative therapy offers the convenience of attending sessions from the comfort of one's own home, eliminating the need for travel and making it easier to fit appointments into a busy schedule. This can be particularly beneficial for those with mobility issues, transportation challenges, or living in remote areas. However, in-person therapy may be preferred by individuals who value the personal connection and non-verbal cues that come with face-to-face interactions. In-person sessions may also be more suitable for those who struggle with technology or lack a private, distraction-free space for online sessions. Ultimately, the choice between online and in-person narrative therapy depends on individual preferences and circumstances.


While there is no single, universally recognized certification for narrative therapy practitioners, many therapists pursue specialized training to enhance their skills in this approach. The Dulwich Centre in Adelaide, Australia, founded by Michael White and David Epston, offers a range of narrative therapy training programs, workshops, and conferences. In the United States, the Evanston Family Therapy Center in Illinois provides a certificate program in narrative therapy. Other organizations, such as the Vancouver School for Narrative Therapy and the Re-Authoring Teaching Institute, also offer training opportunities. Narrative therapists often hold advanced degrees in psychology, social work, counseling, or related fields, and are licensed mental health professionals in their respective states or countries.

Complementary Practices

Other practices that may work well alongside narrative therapy include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), mindfulness-based therapies, art therapy, and journaling. These approaches can help individuals develop greater self-awareness, challenge negative thought patterns, and express their emotions in creative ways. Incorporating elements of these practices into narrative therapy sessions or using them as supplementary tools between sessions can enhance the overall effectiveness of treatment.

Practitioner Types

Narrative therapy is typically provided by licensed mental health professionals, such as psychologists, clinical social workers, licensed professional counselors, and marriage and family therapists. These practitioners have received specialized training in narrative therapy techniques and principles. Some psychiatrists and psychiatric nurse practitioners may also incorporate narrative therapy into their treatment plans, especially when combined with medication management.

Are you an expert?

Turn your knowledge into impact & income and share your expertise, grow, and improve lives. Become a Wellness Expert on Well Me Right.

Offer paid wellness sessions for 1:1 virtual coaching and support and connect with wellness-seeking individuals on Well Me Right.


  • Q: What is narrative therapy and how does it work?

    • A: Narrative therapy is a form of psychotherapy that helps individuals view their problems as separate from themselves. It focuses on the stories people create about their lives and aims to help them rewrite these narratives in more empowering ways. By externalizing problems and exploring alternative perspectives, individuals can develop a stronger sense of identity and find new solutions to challenges.
  • Q: Who can benefit from narrative therapy?

    • A: Narrative therapy can be helpful for a wide range of individuals dealing with various mental health concerns, such as depression, anxiety, trauma, and relationship issues. It may be particularly beneficial for those who feel stuck in negative patterns of thinking or behavior, as well as those who have experienced oppression or marginalization based on their identity or background.
  • Q: How long does narrative therapy typically last?

    • A: The length of narrative therapy can vary depending on the individual's needs and goals. Some people may find relief after just a few sessions, while others may benefit from longer-term treatment. On average, narrative therapy tends to be a relatively brief form of psychotherapy, with many individuals experiencing significant progress within 12-20 sessions.
  • Q: What techniques are used in narrative therapy?

    • A: Narrative therapists use a variety of techniques to help individuals explore and reframe their stories. These may include externalizing conversations, which involve separating the problem from the person, as well as deconstructing dominant narratives and identifying unique outcomes or exceptions to problem-saturated stories. Therapists may also use letter writing, role-playing, and other creative exercises to help individuals develop new perspectives and skills.
  • Q: Can narrative therapy be used in conjunction with medication?

    • A: Yes, narrative therapy can be used alongside medication when deemed appropriate by a qualified healthcare provider. While medication can help manage symptoms of mental health conditions, narrative therapy can provide individuals with the tools and insights needed to address underlying emotional and behavioral patterns. A comprehensive treatment plan that combines both approaches may lead to more sustainable long-term outcomes.


Narrative therapy is a powerful approach to mental health treatment that empowers individuals to rewrite their life stories in more meaningful and fulfilling ways. By separating problems from the person and exploring alternative perspectives, narrative therapy helps people develop a stronger sense of identity and find new solutions to challenges. This form of psychotherapy can be beneficial for a wide range of individuals dealing with various mental health concerns, and it can be used in conjunction with other complementary practices and medication when appropriate. With the guidance of a skilled practitioner, narrative therapy can help people create lasting positive change in their lives.