Leone Centre Glossary

Narrative Family Therapy

Narrative Family Therapy

Narrative family therapy is a form of counselling that views people as separate from their problems. It emphasises the importance of the stories individuals and families create about their lives and experiences. These narratives shape their identity and influence their interactions.

Core principles

The therapy revolves around several core principles:

  1. Externalisation: This involves framing problems as separate from the individual, reducing feelings of blame and personal failure.
  2. Deconstruction: Challenging and breaking down established narratives that may be harmful or limiting.
  3. Re-authoring: Collaboratively creating new, empowering stories that align better with the individual’s values and aspirations.
  4. Unique outcomes: Identifying and amplifying moments when the individual successfully countered their problem, highlighting their strengths and capabilities.

Benefits and features

Narrative family therapy offers a unique approach that encourages a sense of agency and collaboration within families. It allows individuals to reshape their identities in a way that aligns with their values and goals. By focusing on stories, it encourages a deeper understanding of one’s experiences and creates a supportive family environment.

Therapy Process

The therapy process typically involves several stages:

  1. Initial sessions: Establishing a therapeutic relationship and understanding the family’s existing narratives.
  2. Externalising conversations: Separating the problem from the person and exploring its impact on the family.
  3. Deconstructing narratives: Analysing and questioning established stories to uncover underlying assumptions and beliefs.
  4. Re-authoring: Collaboratively constructing new, empowering narratives that reflect the family’s strengths and values.
  5. Consolidation: Reinforcing the new stories and integrating them into the family’s daily life.


How long does narrative family therapy take?

The duration of therapy varies depending on the family’s needs and goals. Some families may find significant changes within a few sessions, while others may continue for several months.

Can narrative family therapy help with long-standing family issues?

Yes, by reframing and re-authoring the family’s narrative, this therapy can offer new perspectives and ways of addressing long-standing issues.

Is narrative family therapy suitable for all types of families?

Yes, this approach is flexible and can be adapted to suit diverse family structures and dynamics.


  1. White, M., & Epston, D. (1990). Narrative Means to Therapeutic Ends. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.
  2. Morgan, A. (2000). What is Narrative Therapy? An Easy-to-Read Introduction. Adelaide: Dulwich Centre Publications.
  3. Zimmerman, J. L., & Dickerson, V. C. (1996). If Problems Talked: Narrative Therapy in Action. New York: Guilford Press.
Book Now

Get Started Today
with Leone Centre

Book Now


Call Us

Call us
020 3930 1007

View therapists

View our therapists
Find your match

This glossary provides definitions of various counselling terms and approaches for informational purposes only, without implying endorsement or service provision