Narrative Therapy and Solution Focused Term Paper

Pages: 15 (4470 words)  ·  Style: APA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 15  ·  Level: Doctoral  ·  Topic: Counseling

SAMPLE EXCERPT:

[. . .] Their relationships serves as a microcosm of the rest of the Joseph family in that the dynamic is breaking down because change is not being embraced and growth is not occurring. Work and family have to be balanced. As Teri places too much emphasis on work, Miles is going in the opposite direction to the other extreme: he wants to abandon work altogether and focus on music, which to him is becoming like a new family. He is replacing his family with Teri with his family in music. The fact that he is still coming to Sunday dinner even after their separation, however, indicates that the dynamic has not completely been destroyed. They are stalling but a healthy dynamic can be restored so long as each is still willing to work it out.

Vertical and Horizontal Stress

Newby (1996) notes that “the degree of anxiety engendered by the stress on the vertical and the horizontal axes at the points where they converge is the key determinant of how well the family will manage its transitions through life. Although all normative change is to some degree stressful, it has been observed that when the horizontal (developmental) stress intersects with a vertical (transgenerational) stress, there is a quantum leap m anxiety within the family system” (p. 789). For the Joseph family the developmental stress and transgenerational stress flow points are intersecting at the immediate family, causing a breakdown in bonds.

Teri

Teri’s vertical stress consists of an emotional climate that is stifling. She is “always letting everybody know she paid for everything” and she knows it: she has a chip on her shoulder about poverty and she is proud of herself for working hard enough to grant others the ability to have what they want. However, her lack of humility in being able to provide rubs her family members the wrong way—especially Maxine who takes umbrage at her digs and comments. Teri is too consumed with her own achievements to recognize that others have not set for themselves the same goals that she has set for herself. Obtaining a career was her goal—but not the goal of her sisters. As for her husband, he also has a different dream. As her nephew realizes, for a family to be strong, every individual has to be giving and be willing to do what is needed at the right time in each situation. Big Mama Joe for instance knows what to do to defuse a situation and de-escalate tense environments—but with her gone, the individuals of the Joseph family have to learn how to do this. Teri has to learn how to be more involved in the lives of her sisters and in the life of her husband instead of being self-involved and too caught up in her own work so that she can lord it over others, showing how she makes all the money and supports them. This is not the way to win their affection or their love and she has to realize that when it comes to her husband and his needs.

Teri’s horizontal stress consists of her husband’s decision to quit his job to pursue music. This causes strain for her because now she is even more sensitive of her role as bread winner and must deal with what this means at a whole new level. As Hanline (1991) shows, transitions are only possible if there are supports in place. Big Mama Joe acted as the support for the family members as they developed, but now that she is gone, and now that Teri has become “stuck” in her family life cycle stage, there is a need to address the big stress issue in her life which is the fear of losing one’s work.

Miles

Miles’ vertical stress consists of negotiating the politics around him in order to find his place in society. He has worked hard but now he feels he is being called in a new direction and his wife is not understanding of his needs. Communication is limited between them because he does not know how to explain to her his appreciation of art and music. She is distant and he does not know how to reach her.

His horizontal stress consists of developing and taking the transition to the next family life cycle and doing it without his wife. This is troubling because they have come so far together and yet they have not moved beyond the stage where they to settle into the new phase. In order to transition appropriately, he needs support but looks for it in the wrong place—i.e., with Faith, which is a betrayal of his bond with Teri. Miles needs to understand that even if his wife is distant from where he is, seeking to replace her is not an appropriate option for the family.

Interventions and Implications

Narrative therapy and solution focused therapy can be applied in any culture, especially in a multicultural society, as they do not project any type of specific aim or frame of reference but rather allow the client to put forward the narrative or the goals so that the counseling can proceed organically. The positive aspect of these systematic interventions is that they promote organic solutions that come from the client rather than from the counselor and thus are not impacted by ethnic or cultural miscues.

Narrative Therapy Interventions

Telling one’s story. This intervention allows the client to find his or her voice and both Teri and Miles could benefit from it by telling their story in their own words. This would be a way for them to provide meaning and communicate it so that it can be heard aloud for what might be the first time. Teri and Miles could explore their own experiences and discover how alterations make the story new.

Externalization technique. This intervention allows the client to see the problems he or she is having as external to themselves instead of as actually being part of the person. In other words, they can see that they are not attached to their problems and in this sense they can free themselves from them. The implication here is that if one is not attached to one’s problems it is easier to change one’s behavior for the better. For Teri and Miles, this intervention would help them to identify the issues they are having and subsequently identify other behaviors that they could engage in instead of the behaviors they are doing that are leading to conflict.

Deconstruction technique. This intervention allows the counselor to break down the problems so that they become easier to understand and process. Sometimes clients have difficulty processing an issue because it seems so big and complex. By deconstructing it, the client can better cope with it. For Teri and Miles, this intervention would allow them to sift through the dynamic that is causing them problems, and better understand why it is happening and what they can do to change that.

Solution Focused Therapy Interventions

Goal setting. As Burg and Mayhall (2002) note, “in solution focused advising the advisor does not provide the goal but can facilitate a semi-structured conversation that leads the student toward a goal” (p. 80). For Goal setting to work, the client must set the goal and while the counselor may have an idea of what goal should be set, the client must discover this on his or her own. The counselor can guide the discussion so that the client reaches this goal. For Teri and Miles, the goals should be for Teri to be more supportive of her husband’s needs and for Miles to demonstrate more gratitude for his wife’s sacrifices for the family.

Scaling. Scaling or rating something on a scale of 1 to 10 helps the client to identify where problem areas are: for instance, the client might be asked to rate his or her confidence in communicating with the partner. For Teri and Miles, scaling could be a useful intervention in terms of how it allows them to see where issues exist without them actually having to think about the issues concretely. They can simply identify what things are hardest for them by scaling, which can lead to greater awareness of themselves and one another and that in turn to modified behavior.

The miracle question. This intervention allows the counselor to pose a scenario in which the client wakes up and finds that all the problems and issues that existed the day before were suddenly solved. The question is, “How would you know and how would you communicate this knowledge to your spouse without saying so directly?” This intervention allows the client to forget the problems and consider a behavior that would be positive as though the problems did not exist. For Teri and Miles it would allow them to stop dwelling on their personal issues with one another and… [END OF PREVIEW]

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