Why is externalising a central technique in narrative therapy today, and what are the limitations and successes of this technique?
The research complied for this report was gathered from various Journals dedicated to the discourse surrounding the practices of narrative therapy and family therapy. Search terms used to collect relevant articles were ‘narrative therapy’, ‘Michael White’ and ‘externalising’. The results from these terms were extensive and required narrowing further by way of peer reviewed status, content type and discipline. Data gathered was then critically analysed to explicate firstly, the socially constructed knowledge surrounding the process of narrative therapy, and the technique of externalising. Secondly, any discrepancies or conflicts in the discourse related to the application of the externalising technique. And lastly, the successes, efficacy, and limitations of externalising as a technique. There was no primary research conducted in the process of compiling this report.
Narrative therapy was introduced to the family therapy field in the late 1980’s by therapists Michael White and David Epston (Matos et al. 2009, p.89). A philosophy of narrative therapy is that everyone has a story to tell which is bound by the socially constructed knowledge within their cultural setting, and this story can be better interpreted by contextualising it according to the individual’s language, social, political and cultural situation (Combs & Freedman 2012, p.1036; Etchison & Kleist 2000, p.61; Fernandez 2010, p.16). The narrative is then reduced to the theme which is determined as a problematic element within the story, and perceived internally as a dominating power (Mascher 2008, p.58; Matos et al. 2009, p.89). The negative themes which cause stress or problematic behaviours commonly manifest when an individual’s experiences are inconsistent with the perception of their ideal self (Phipps & Vorster 2011, pp.138, 139; Carr 1998, p.486), which is derived from the socially constructed knowledge within the individual’s culture. Furthermore, the process of narrative therapy enables the client to re-narrate their story, giving it a richer and more productive meaning. It is a narrative therapist’s position to work with the individual to define the context of the problem, deconstruct the problem saturated story and constitutionalise or redefine a richer narrative (Carr 1998, p.487; Combs & Freedman 2012, p. 1034).
The sequential paradigmatic techniques of narrative therapy are a systematic approach of: collaboratively positioning with the client, externalising the problem, extracting unique outcomes, thickening new plots, linking the new plots back to the past and extending them into the future and finally, extending the new plots to the understandings of the individuals immediate outsiders (Carr 1998). After establishing an understanding of the language the individual uses and the context...