The power of our story

Storytelling, themes, and naming families experience is a notable part of functional family therapy. Families share stories that illuminate and combine their separate experiences into a meaningful picture.

Families can narrate both their best and worst life experiences and, in this way, pass down a heritage of remembrances from one generation to the next. Clinicians working with families who have been impacted by trauma can use family storytelling to aid healing.

We take this time to explore the multiple aspects of the family’s story that are integral to using narrative techniques with families who have experienced trauma. We refer to storytelling or storying as the natural process that families engage in to relate experiences to one another. We reserve the term, narrative, to imply a therapeutic family discussion facilitated by a therapist.

In trying to understand what a therapist would need to know to help families use their storytelling abilities to talk about and cope with traumas, we believe it is important for them to know the functions of family storytelling, the skills used by family members in the act of storytelling, and the effects of trauma on family storytelling.

Finally, we provide a review of the skills and knowledge that the therapist brings to the therapeutic encounter to guide narration and healing.

Using these skills we can help families make sense of their narrative and what has happened in their journey so far ‘To understand our picture first we must narrate our landscape’. 

Article Written by Craig Donnelly-Wells
NCNS – Family Practitioner

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