This Narratology practice, which is comprised of private sessions and trainings, talks, workshops, and supervision, is informed by the following sciences:
Coherent Narrative Therapy uses Dramaturgy (deep questioning and active listening).
Dramaturgy in social science terms means 'the study of human interaction'; in theatrical terms in means 'asking the right questions in order to shape a story into something that can be acted upon'; in clinical terms it is a kind of forensics that uses words, instead of bones, to locate, unearth and discover the truth of what happened! When these truths are brought into the light they become integrated, and troubled scripts become revisable. In Coherent Narrative Therapy, these questions – whether responded to aloud or in writing – lead participants to parts of the stories that have been left out, distorted, or forgotten. In session, this mutual discovery work leads to enhanced communication and ’other’ awareness. In writing between sessions, it leads to enhanced articulation and ‘self’ awareness: we write to discover what we know. But writing alone, or in a diary, doesn't provide the opportunity for the accompaniment and revision that comes with a skilled Narrative guide who knows the right questions to ask. This kind of questioning not only allows you to author your own experience, it respects you as the authority of your own experience. As psychologist and Buddhist monk Dr. Jack Kornfield says, "Each of us must learn to become our own authority. This and this alone will liberate us."
Narrative Reconstruction invites you to come into relationship via dialogue.
Emotional Intelligence is a measure of one’s awareness of self and other. Daniel Goleman describes it as the ability to read others. Part of what is gained in the Coherent Narrative Therapy process, is the opportunity to learn about yourself in dialogue with an attentive and attuned other. You will not only be asked to consider deep questions about your own ‘story,’ but will be listened to deeply and responded to with authenticity. In being listened to this intently, you too will become a better listener, to yourself and others. The reconstructive work will be guided by the way in which you language your own experience, and much of what is discovered about where you are stuck will be discovered in the way that you communicate with the therapist/coach. As you articulate your story, you will become more comfortable with giving language to your experience and to interacting with others. Once you are more aware of the way you language your experience, as in the Buddhist tradition, you will align your thoughts, words, and actions with your deepest understandings. (See Phillip Moffit).
Coherent Narrative Therapy uses written meditations, in addition to spoken explorations, to access all that clients already know about themselves and to strengthen the coherence (see Bruce Ecker) of their stories.
Recent evidence-based research has shown that we often don’t remember things we know, until we write about our experience. We write to remember what we've forgotten (See Pennebaker http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20170601-can-writing-about-pain-make-you-heal-faster?ocid=ww.social.link.facebook). I have discovered that we also don’t hear what we are saying to others, or fully know what we feel until we write it down; and once we have written it down, we are able to process the learning and are more likely to remember it going forward. Writing invites the brain into a reflective memory state. Participants tap memories not previously accessed in the autobiographical archives in the right (write) brain, using the storytelling drive in the left brain, which results in an altered state akin to hypnosis.
Using Narrative as a tool for healing and transformation has a long history. Narrative Therapy was developed in the 1980’s, by Michael White & David Epston. It sees people as not fixed, but as fluid throughout life and believes that people can develop new senses of themselves. It encourages a shift from focus on the present problem, to focus on strengths exhibited in the past, allowing clients to re-author the ‘problem-saturated’ story that they arrive with, and replace it with a more empowering reading of their lives. This is done by getting in touch with memories that have been forgotten and left out of the dominant plot. It is not about writing a happy story, but a true story and a mindfully coherent story of the past, of the unfolding present, and of the future; sharing the written findings bring them into useful awareness. Spoken exploration is enhanced by written and imagined mediations, both within and outside of sessions. Because we write from a deeply unconscious place close to the part of the brain where memories are stored, we can retrieve what is hidden from ordinary awareness.
Coherent Narrative Therapy invites the mindful noticing and reframing of past and present experience.
Mindfulness is a growing movement worldwide. It's a practice of paying attention to self, to others, and to the present moment. Dan Siegel asserts that: “In a reflective state, we can choose to engage autobiographical memory stores, inviting whatever comes into awareness to come more fully…the healing that emerges with this reflective form of memory and narrative integration…is deeply liberating”. This kind of reflection is at the core of Narrative Reconstruction, and yields what Seigel refers to as narrative integration, which “enables us to weave together the story of our life...the mindful telling of our tale can be greatly healing of unresolved issues in our life, because a coherent narrative is essentially a story that makes sense of our lives in a deep, viscerally full way”. Clients have commented to me that they have never before been listened to, or understood this deeply and compassionately by themselves or another. Being mindful of our fuller, more authentic story allows us to see our lives as they are.
Coherent Narrative Theapy allows you to reconstruct the way in which you hold your life, and is co-constructed between the client and coach to suit your individual needs.
Narratology uses a constructivist approach; in that it works experientially to explore and discover the meanings that participants have given to their world, rather than assuming that there is a ‘right’ way of thinking or being. Growing out of a long tradition in psychology and education, ‘constructs’ are the different types of filters we choose to place over our world views to change our reality from chaos to order, and the ways in which those filters may or may not be separating us from the lives we want to be living (See Neimeyer). As a constructivist, I work with every client in response to the needs of their unique story.
Coherent Narrative Therapy invites you to become literate in the coherences of your own life choices, and possible alternatives to these choices.
Achievement of a coherent narrative is ultimately the goal of Narrative Reconstruction, and it draws on the belief that everything we struggle with in ourselves has a basis in our history, and a purpose in our present, which must be understood and reframed in order to achieve flow (See Bruce Ecker). This approach looks at the coherence of ‘symptoms’ and explores their roots as solutions to deeply held past learnings. Once the problems that these solutions solve are brought back into awareness and their urgent necessity understood, solutions can be revised. I share with this approach a deep and basic core belief that all behaviors grow coherently out of the client’s own narrative, and must be explored in a non-pathologizing manner, in therapy and in life: (click here to read an article on Coherent Parenting). Narrative Reconstruction allows you to discover the story behind your "goals" and the ways in which surface impediments to these goals may actually be serving a purpose. Gail is an Advanced Practitioner of Coherence Therapy (See Associate Instructors, Coherence Therapy Institute).