My narratology practice, which is comprised of both private Narrative Coaching sessions and Narratology trainings, talks, workshops, and supervision, is informed by the following sciences.
Narrative Coaching uses deep questioning, active listening, and periodic writing exercises to access all that clients already know about themselves and strengthen the coherence of their stories.
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 and encourages a shift from focus on the present problem, to focus on strengths exhibited in the past, allowing patients 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. Most of us write from a deeply unconscious place from which we can retrieve what is hidden from ordinary awareness.
Recent evidence-based research has also 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). 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. Writing invites the brain into a reflective memory state. It is not about writing a happy story, but a true story and a mindfully coherent story of the past, of the unfolding story, and of the future.
But writing alone, or in a diary, doesn't provide the opportunity for the accompaniment and revision that comes with a skilled Narrative Coach who uses dramaturgical questioning. 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." Ken Wilber said, "The self is a linguistic structure... It lives via communication or dialogue, it is constructed of units of meaning. It is a story; it is text." We write to discover what we know.
Narrative Coaching 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 Coaching, 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”.
Narrative Coaching 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 Narrative Coaching 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. The Coaching 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 Coach. As you articulate your story, you will become more comfortable with giving language to your experience and to interacting with others.
Narrative Coaching allows you to reconstruct the way in which you hold your life.
Narratology uses a constructivist approach; in that it works experientially to explore and discover the meanings that participants have given to their world, rather that 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 realities 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).
Narrative Coaching 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 Coaching, and it draws on the belief that every thing 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. Discover the story behind your "goals" and the ways in which surface impediments to these goals may actually be serving a purpose.