on July 18, 2000
I would be more than happy to give this book a five star review but for a few key, significant complaints about narrative therapy. The main one is that no therapeutic failures are ever presented in narrative texts (including this one). This leads me to wonder if the authors' political, or politically correct, agenda is not more important than the clinical aspect of the work.
An example is the situation here where the therapist feels she must confront a client's racist remarks. It is presented as an imperative - that the therapists' needs at that point in the session are of supreme importance, given the context of the therapists' socio-political righteousness. I agree that racism should be challenged, and I am sure I am in accord with the therpaists' views here. But this is not the point.
After Ms. Freeman confronts the client about the racism the therapeutic relationship evolves to an epiphany in which all are blissfully healed - this is standard narrative mythology. In most psychodynamic literature (and real clinical practice) even skilled therapists sometimes suffer an empathic failure that leads to an adolescent leaving therapy. Young people are extremely sensitive to being judged, and it takes a very strong relationship, grounded in the clients' needs, to contain this type of intervention. Better still, the therapist should embody her/his beliefs in their being rather than by pontificating. A righteous stand like that presented here would stand at least a 50-50 chance of rupturing a therapeutic alliance. You won't find a book called "Failures in Narrative Therapy". This is not because failure is a 'construction' or some other bit of sophistry, or because therapeutic ruptures do not occur. It is because narrative therapy has yet to attain a level of maturity where it can admit that it, too, is an errant art that demands transparency and empathy, not preaching to the client out of the therapists' needs, no matter how noble.
All that said, many of the storytelling methods presented here are useful for working with children and their families. But please hold the self-congratulation, narrative enthusiasts.
on December 5, 1998
Provides original solutions to tough and common problems. I found that I was able to apply the concepts and suggestions, both personally, and in my practice, effortlessly. I bought it for every therapist I knew.