Narrative Therapy is interested in how we create our stories of life. These are not stories that are ‘made up’, but stories that are based on real life events. Sometimes people, including children, can get fenced into a particular story line that doesn’t suit them. We work together to find alternative ways of understanding life and giving meaning to the world and creating a more helpful, and true, identity.
Narrative therapists structure conversations in particular ways that help people to notice storylines, talk about their values and intentions for life, and ‘rewrite’ story lines that are not helping them. Narrative Therapy is interested in the existing skills and knowledge of people, how they have helped them in the past and how they could help them in the future.
I may send home letters, documents or art works that are based on conversations I have with your child. I will talk carefully with your child as to how they want to share these letters. They are not a statement of ‘truth’ or a report to give to a doctor, but are a record of an evolving story as seen by your child.
Sometimes these letters may ask for a response. It is important that these responses are based on your experience of real events. If you are unsure about how to respond, I am happy to talk with you — just send me an email.
I have completed my Masters degree in Narrative Therapy and Community Work at Melbourne University.
As an observer of Sandplay Therapy, it may appear that a person is simply playing in sand. This is not so. The sandtray becomes a setting for people to gain a different or new perspective on a situation.
The act of playing in the sand allows the people to ‘sort out’ and make sense of experiences and information. By creating a scene using symbols (small figurines, toys, ornaments, shells, rocks etc), a child can regain a sense of strength or hope.
Sometimes people are asked to explain behaviour or verbalise how they feel. This may be difficult. We may not know why they behaved in a certain way or how they feel. Symbols provide a means for expression and exploration in a non-verbal form. It is always the client's role, with the support of the therapist, to construct meaning.
People can unconsciously process an issue by representing it in this way. Allowing free creation, and working with the ‘story’ can help support change.
If it is your child working through sandplay, they may ask to take home a photo of a creation they have made. If your child does this please remember that the child is the person who makes the meaning — for example, a monster may represent feeling powerful for the child, and if an adult labels it as scary or horrible, it can be counter-productive. It is helpful to ask the child to tell you something about it and to refrain from your own opinions and comments. A good start could be: “Would you like to share anything about your sandtray?” Your child may not wish to share at all and parents are encouraged to accept this too.”