Why is narrative crucial to psychotherapy? Because our clients come to us with powerful stories about themselves - bleak self-portrayals, inexorable plots, narrow themes, and demoralizing meanings. How can we compete with such stories that are not only well rehearsed but backed by mountains of selective negative evidence - stories so persuasive that the client does not view them as stories at all, but as slices of life? We must build, together with the client, stories that are no less compelling. We must pitch portrayal against portrayal, plot against plot, theme against theme, and meaning against meaning. It will not do, however, simply to oppose a new story to the old one. To succeed, the new story must be close to the client's experience so that it is his or her story; on the other hand, it must be different enough so as to allow for new meanings and options to be perceived. The client is redescribed as the person he could become, once free from the problem's yoke. Therapy is the client's war of liberation from the problem's degrading domination.
This book demonstrates how to practice this innovative kind of psychotherapy based on the principles of narrative reconstruction. It describes the therapist's role as a co-narrator of the client's story; the ways of constructing new, positive portrayals; the challenge of facilitating the therapy as an arresting dramatic plot; ways to help clients present, unfold, and develop life themes; and ways to help them construct self-healing rather than self-defeating meanings.