Autobiographical Statement My Path to Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

By "story" I do not mean that the ways in which they understand (and enact) their lives are somehow false, fiction rather than fact. Rather, I am using the word in what might be seen as an essentially Jungian way: Each person's biography can be seen as a narrative, a story that the self tells about the self and to the self. It is the most fundamental story in each life. Too often the story that people tell themselves about their own lives is one filled with shaming and negative elements; far too often such negative stories lead an individual to become to depend on alcohol or drugs to help them overcome their shame, depression, and other negative feelings about themselves.

The subjects of the research that I am currently proposing are skilled in disparaging their own lives, their own selves. The subjects of my research are three Armenian women (all of whom are in their forties) who have a history of addiction. The core of the work that I will do with them within the context of the clinician-client relationship and that I will write about will be molded by my understanding of the strength of narrative therapy. Narrative therapy is an essentially democratic and egalitarian in nature: It is a collaborative, cooperative process between the client and the therapist. The clinician who uses as her or his primary school of thought and tool understands that the problems that each individual faces (which include both addiction and the underlying problems that push a person toward addictive behavior) are shaped by culture, by history, by politics, by society. From these different sectors come influences that provide the limits of the ways in which we think about our own lives.

The basis of narrative therapy is similar to the ideas behind the larger model of postmodern theory: There is no single true way to tell a story, no single possible presentation of a single set of facts. Rather, there are different ways of interpreting and understanding a collection of events. This idea is a very powerful one for both therapist and client and lies at the heart of what I believe to be the curative power of therapy: We can tell the story of each life in a way so that the protagonist of the story becomes the hero of that story.

That transformational process is precisely what I wish to help effect for each of the three women that I will be working with. They have each created a story of their lives in which their addictions become inevitable and irreparable: They are very much not the hero of their own lives. Beyond that, there is only a single way of casting their own story, one that cannot be shifted or changed or re-imagined.

I do not believe that it can be true that there is ever a single way to tell the story of a life. Indeed, such a monolingual view of biography seems entirely antithetical to the process of psychotherapy. The power of therapy arises in large measure from the belief on the part of the therapist (who must convey it to the client) that there is more than one way to tell and understand a story.

The role of a therapist -- and this is supported by the work of McWilliams (1994) is to convey to the client that there is always room for reinterpretation of the meaning of a person's life. This is not in any way to imply that a therapist helps a client by encouraging her or him to deny the reality of their lives. Self-obfuscation is antithetical to the process of increased self-knowledge that is essential for successful therapy. Rather than asking a client to create a view of life that is somehow inaccurate or fuzzy, the narrative therapist asks the client -- and guides the client -- to re-envision the facts of his or her life (such as the dangerous behaviors that accompany addiction) in a way that allows for real change and progress.


McWilliams, N. (1994.)…

Sources Used in Document:


McWilliams, N. (1994.) Psychoanalytic diagnosis. New York: Guilford.

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