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Maria Shine Stewart August 10th, 2005 11:50 AM

is narrative therapy an arts' therapy
I am new to this forum--am currently earning a second master's (in counseling). A short section on "narrative therapy" was in the textbook of one of my courses; I got curious, then checked out a video. The therapist was doing most of the writing.

Is this typical?

Would those on the forum consider narrative/writing therapy an art therapy, and are there methods for client use?

I have taught writing for many years and was/am a professional writer; my interest in words is lifelong and I am drawn to anything that allows people to "work with their hands."

I have found drawing and writing extremly helpful personally in accessing the "stuck" places. I considered enrolling in an art therapy master's program but had too many undergraduate art classes to make up, too little time.

Good luck to all with your work and studies.

kaetie September 4th, 2005 11:05 PM

Re: is narrative therapy an arts' therapy
"The therapist was doing most of the writing" Not totally sure if I am on your same wavelength BUT check out Walter Ong ORALITY AND LITERACY
(title captalized)
If the narrative refers to the simple act of telling the story, then it does not matter how the story "comes out" as long as it is the clients story. The therapist may have been transcribing the oral account of the client which is valid too.

hmazloomian September 28th, 2005 08:46 PM

Re: is narrative therapy an arts' therapy
No two things are entirely related or unrelated. The strength of the relationship is important. If Narrative therapy is used to invoke images that are then drawn and talked about it may be art therapy. If it is done simply though a conversation, is valid but I think a different modality. It is like asking if a horse and a zebra are related. If you are looking at similarities you would say yes, if you are thinking of differences you would say no. In other words, is the image in the mirror truly you?

kurt fondriest October 15th, 2005 03:28 PM

Re: is narrative therapy an arts' therapy



Martin Perdoux May 12th, 2006 04:47 PM

Re: is narrative therapy an arts' therapy
Narrative therapy is an arts' therapy in my book. Most art school now have MFA in Writing programs, since prose or verse is considered an art medium, and the writing process is now understood to be as creative and complex as any other artistic process.
In France, it is worth noting that the national art therapy school includes in its list of theses several titles on writing therapy. The US is the only country where the field of art therapy, and art therapy education, goes out of its way to exclude close cousins like dance therapy, and writing therapy. Interestingly enough, book publishing in the US also has the distinction of clearly announcing on a book wether it is fiction or nonfiction (notwithstanding the recent scandals with lying authors and plagiarism) as if the book was more important as a product to be categorized than simply as a work of art, a well-told story.
The American insistence on categorization is an unfortunate obstacle for the ability of art therapists and clients to drift accross artistic media and disciplines as required by the demands of the healing process. I realized several years ago that in art therapy, we don't choose our medium, our medium chooses us.
Fortunately, art schools like the School of the Art Institute of Chicago are increasingly cross-disciplinary rather than disciplin-based. The future of art therapy education, it seems to me, is to follow this trend by opening its borders. Si se puede! Si se puede! Si se puede!

Artaide May 22nd, 2006 07:49 PM

Re: is narrative therapy an arts' therapy
This is an interesting question as it confronts our definitions and the boundaries we draw around disciplines.

Martin, you are collapsing the narrative therapy approach with some of its tools when you assume narrative therapy IS expressive writing.
"Most art school now have MFA in Writing programs, since prose or verse is considered an art medium, and the writing process is now understood to be as creative and complex as any other artistic process."
It's not a priori. Narrative therapy is first a way of understanding how people make sense of their lives: through stories. It is just as much a TALK (conversational) therapy approach, in that it takes into account the way people 'story' their lived experience. Hoda does mention something similar in an earlier posting.
" Narrative therapy consists of understanding the stories or themes that have shaped a person's life. Out of all the experiences a person has lived, what has held the most meaning? [...] Therefore, narrative therapy focuses on building the plot which connects a person's life together."
Narrative therapy is very much about re-authoring or re-storying (what other psych approaches call reframing) the problematic areas of a client's life. The tools that are used can be journaling or other writing or picturing exercises informed by a narrative understanding of therapy.

A very good article by a psychotherapist can be read here:

Maria asks if Narrative Therapy is an 'art therapy', my answer is not a priori. It is however a theoretical understanding that informs arts therapists (just like feminist therapy does) who add creative tools such as visual and textual journaling to their narrative toolbox. Hope this helps.

NOTE: Martin you bring up a thorny question that is worth exploring. How do we define professions? ours seems too often defined by our tools, when it should in my opinion be defined by the psych and social healing processes linked to CREATING AND CREATIVITY, instead of our paint brushes. Thoughts?

eLayla August 24th, 2010 07:28 AM

Re: is narrative therapy an arts' therapy
Interesting thread!

I wasn't aware of Narrative therapy as such, though I've read or heard about it being implemented (in a variety of settings), without being called so necessarily. (I've read about some in books on art therapies or such too..)

Would one need to study art therapy to use it? Probably not, depends what sort of courses are offered...

I've personally experienced therapeutic value of writing (and other media of expression) too... I wonder to what extent this can be combined with CBT and other approaches.. Probably depending on the person/s and the situation/s...

How do we define professions? Interesting question. I see 'professions' as labels and (sometimes too narrow - or too big) drawers, while people and techniques can be multi-faceted and thrive in a variety of settings and experiences... In some professions and/or volunteering positions, you can do A LOT of things (with a wider label) and in some you are more limited...

Mirren September 3rd, 2010 08:55 AM

Re: is narrative therapy an arts' therapy
Thnaks, great info

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