Narrative Therapy For Depression: An Effective Approach

Narrative Therapy For Depression

Depression is a common mental health issue that can have a significant impact on a person’s life. Narrative therapy is an approach that aims to help individuals with depression to identify and explore the stories that they tell themselves about their experiences. In this blog, we will explore the benefits of narrative therapy for depression. We will also provide insights into some of the techniques and exercises that are commonly used in this approach.

What Is Narrative Therapy?

What Is Narrative Therapy?

Narrative therapy is a form of psychotherapy that focuses on the stories people tell about themselves and their experiences. It aims to help individuals understand the dominant narratives that shape their lives and to develop alternative narratives that empower them to change their behavior and relationships. The therapy involves exploring people’s beliefs, values, and experiences, and creating new narratives that reflect their preferred ways of being in the world.

Is Narrative Therapy Effective For Depression?

Yes, it is effective. Narrative therapy for depression helps to identify and challenge self-blaming narratives contributing to hopelessness and low self-worth. Through the process of creating alternative narratives that reflect their strengths, values, and preferred ways of being, individuals can gain a sense of agency and control over their lives, leading to a reduction in depressive symptoms. However, the effectiveness of narrative therapy may vary depending on the individual and the severity of their depression, and it may be most effective when used in conjunction with other treatments such as medication and other forms of therapy.

Ideas Behind Narrative Therapy

The three main ideas behind narrative therapy are:

Separating the Problem

Narrative therapy holds that problems are not inherent to a person’s identity. Rather, they are external and can be separated from the person. This approach views problems as something that can be worked on, rather than something that is a permanent part of who a person is.

Narrative therapists might use language such as “the problem” instead of “your problem” to help clients externalize the issue. For instance, instead of saying “You are depressed,” they may say “Depression is impacting your life.” This helps clients to see that the issue is not an inherent part of them, but rather a problem they are facing.

Power of Language & Storytelling

Power of Language & Storytelling

Narrative therapy emphasizes the importance of language and storytelling in shaping our experiences. It recognizes that the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves and our lives can have a profound impact on how we view ourselves and our experiences. Narrative therapy encourages clients to take an active role in creating their own stories. This way, they can see themselves as the author of their own lives.

Narrative therapists may use techniques such as asking open-ended questions, listening actively, and reflecting back on the client’s own words. This will help the client explore and develop their own stories. They may also use metaphors, analogies, and imagery to help the client see things from a different perspective.

The Client is the Expert

Narrative therapy views the client as the expert in their own life. The therapist is not seen as the authority figure who tells the client what to do. Instead, the therapist’s role is to support and guide the client, help them to access their resources, and to facilitate their healing process.

This way, clients are encouraged to share their experiences and perspectives. It helps them to identify their own goals for therapy and take ownership of their healing process. The therapist’s role is to ask questions, offer reflections, and provide support as the client navigates their journey toward healing.

Components Of Narrative Therapy

Given below are the key components of narrative therapy to treat depression:

Externalizing the Problem

Externalizing involves separating the problem from the client’s identity and exploring how it has affected their lives. This helps to create a sense of distance between the client and the problem. Ultimately, it can help reduce feelings of shame, guilt, and hopelessness. Externalizing also allows them to see the problem as something that can be worked on, rather than something inherent to their identity.

Identifying Dominant Narratives

Narrative therapy involves identifying the dominant narratives that shape the client’s life story. These narratives may include negative self-talk and self-blaming stories that contribute to their depression. By becoming aware of these narratives, the client can begin to challenge and re-author their story.

Deconstructing Dominant Narratives

Deconstructing Dominant Narratives

Deconstructing the dominant narratives involves examining the assumptions, values, and beliefs that underlie them. The therapist may ask various questions. Such as, “What is the evidence that supports this narrative?” and “What evidence contradicts this narrative?”. This process helps the client to see their story in a new light and consider alternative interpretations of their experiences.

Creating Alternative Narratives

Creating alternative narratives involves working with the client to develop new stories that reflect their strengths, values, and preferred ways of being in the world. These narratives may involve re-authoring their life story, focusing on positive experiences, and setting goals for the future. The therapist may help the client to visualize the future that they desire to see. This will inculcate a sense of hope and positive thinking.

Using Imagery and Metaphors

The therapist may use imagery and metaphors to help the client externalize the problem and explore alternative narratives. For example, the therapist may ask the client to imagine the problem as a separate entity, such as a monster or a storm, and to consider what actions they could take to overcome it.

Creating a Supportive Community

Narrative therapy recognizes the importance of community and encourages the client to build supportive relationships with others who share their values and beliefs. The therapist may help the client to identify people in their life who can support them in their healing process, and to connect with support groups or organizations.

Some Exercises Used In Narrative Therapy

Here are some narrative therapy exercises that can help clients develop new perspectives and narratives:

Letter Writing

Letter WritingThis exercise involves writing a letter to someone who has played a significant role in the client’s life. Such as a parent, friend, or partner. The letter can be written as if the person were still alive or as a way to express feelings to someone who has passed away. The purpose of this exercise is to help the client explore how their experiences have impacted their sense of self and to create a new one. This will help them to develop a more empowering narrative of their life.


The timeline exercise involves creating a visual representation of the events that have shaped the client’s life. This can be done by drawing a line on a piece of paper and marking significant events. Such as births, deaths, and major life changes. The timeline can also include the client’s emotional experiences and their impact. The purpose of this exercise is to help the client identify patterns and themes in their experiences and to explore how these events have influenced their beliefs and behaviors.

Alternative Storytelling

This exercise involves exploring alternative narratives that better reflect the client’s values and preferred ways of being. The therapist may encourage the client to imagine a future where they have achieved their goals or to explore how they might have responded differently to past events. By creating these new narratives, clients can begin to see themselves and their experiences in a more positive light.

Expressive Arts

Expressive ArtsExpressive arts is a form of narrative therapy exercise that involves using different art forms. Such as drawing, painting, or sculpting, to express and explore one’s experiences and emotions. By engaging in creative activities, clients can gain new insights into their lives. This can help them develop new narratives that reflect their values and goals. Expressive arts can also help to reduce stress and anxiety and improve overall emotional well-being.


Narrative therapy can be an effective approach to treating depression by helping clients to develop new, more empowering narratives about their lives. Moreover, by exploring their experiences and developing new perspectives, clients can gain a greater sense of control and improve their emotional well-being. It’s important to seek help from a qualified mental health professional who can provide guidance and support throughout the process. With the help of narrative therapy, it is possible to overcome depression and live a more fulfilling life.

For more information, please contact MantraCare. Depression is a mental illness characterized by persistent feelings of sadnesshopelessness, and loss of interest in daily activities. If you have any queries regarding Online Depression Counseling experienced therapists at MantraCare can help: Book a trial Depression Therapy session.

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