Origins of narrative psychotherapy
Australian therapists Michael White and David Epston are generally regarded as founders of narrative approach in psychotherapy. Though the whole concept is naturally based on the work of many other people. A significant inspiration for example came from an American psychiatrist Milton H. Ericson, who, in 1965, wrote:
"The therapist’s task should not be a proselytizing of the patient with his own beliefs and understandings. ... What is needed is the development of a therapeutic situation permitting the patient to use his own thinking, his own understandings, his own emotions in the way that best fits him in his scheme of life."
In our work we recognise the fact, that each person's experience is subjectively unique. The ways people interpret the world and their lives differ from nation to nation, generation to generation and person to person. People are creating their reality in correlation with how they experience it and how they communicate it in social interaction. People from different cultural backgrounds will have different opinions, values, norms and habits. Reality, respectively our idea about what is and what is not real, is not necessarily a fixed standard, but it is rather a social construct. It is a certain consensus, which is structured by language, and maintained and distributed by narrations.
Client (or patient) is never seen as a problem. A person and a problem are two different things. Client is simply someone, who is facing certain difficulties in their life. Therapist is never in superior position, he neither gives a diagnosis, nor does he determine a treatment. His goal is to create an environment, in which the clients themselves remain fully competent, to deal with any situations they are confronted with in their life.
Freedom from normative standards
Narrative psychotherapy does not work with psychiatric (or psychological) diagnoses, and does not give them any importance. It makes no difference whether or not the client's life corresponds to some general concepts. Much more important is, what is desired and valuable for the clients themselves, what makes sense to them.