A key component of family therapy and brought forward by scholars such as Michael White, narrative therapy is a tool used to make use of an individual’s skills and competencies so as to change the person’s life, positively. In this manner, the individual is made to separate oneself from the problems he is encountering. The essence is to make individuals be able to rewrite the negative bits of their lives in a way that brings about healing. As one of the main forms of psychological therapy, narrative therapy has various advantages. Similarly however, it has a number of disadvantages as is going to be discussed shortly.
Secondly, the patient is left with much of what is needed for the entire therapeutic process. For example, it is assumed that the patients fully know the direction they want their lives to take, thereby making the therapist to fully rely on what is provided by the patient. In a way, the patient acts as the source of the solution to his or her problems. The problem with this, is that the patient may lose trust in the therapist, because the roles here might appear reversed. Whereas the role of the therapist is to provide knowledge and guidance, it is now the patient who plays this role. Thus, the competence and ability of the therapist might be put to doubt by the patient.
Thirdly, there is a reduction of an individual’s perception of reality in relation to language and based on the framework of the society. This problem emanates from the constructivist assumption by experts that human language is the basis of reality, and that this language is a product of the society’s social construct. For example, it would mean that for there to be any therapy between the expert and the patient, then the expert has, and must first understand the language spoken by the patient. This however, is not usually practical under the field of counselling. The constructivist approach is against the perception that people can be in charge of creating their own versions of reality, which trickles down to creation of meaningful life.
Additionally, whereas the therapy has been tasked with shielding an individual from the external forces or discourses, it is also taken as nihilistic. This is because it advocates for the separation of an individual from the society. One is encouraged to separate or marginalize oneself, thereby ignoring the norms and practices of the society. This is caused by the fact that narrative therapists usually have a very low perspective of agency.
Finally, this form of therapy is relativistic. The relativity emerges from the belief that human problems and struggles are a product of how the surrounding environment impacts the people. These problems come about as a result of the decision by people to go against the generally accepted dominant as well as cultural discourses. Such a proposition is what is believed by narrative therapists. This assumption that problems only exist through the influence of the environment on an individual,is largely false.