Narrative Therapy was developed in the 1980s by Michael White and David Epston. Clinicians using Narrative Therapy believe that by exploring, deconstructing, and revising problematic stories, clients can change their perceptions and create new scenarios that can improve quality of life (Seligman, Reichenberg, 2010). Read on to learn 10 Narrative therapy Exercises and Activities to do with your clients.

With Narrative Therapy, clients are viewed as experts in their stories, and clinicians are viewed as experts in Narrative Therapy. As clinicians motivate their clients, they work to engage their strengths and resources in their work (Seligman, & Reichenberg, 2010).

The difference between Narrative Therapy and other therapeutic approaches is that clinicians engage in “interactive mirroring” while acting as participating witnesses (Seligman, & Reichenberg, 2010).

Denborough and C. White identified the following as key concepts associated with narrative therapy:

  • Empowering people to tell their stories in ways that make them stronger
  • Empower those who are struggling to contribute to others who are struggling
  • Experiencing an act of giving creates and sustains hope
  • There is always more than one story, with stories of trouble, hardship, loss and despair
  • People always respond to the challenges they face
  • As a consultant, it’s best to start small. Our role is to ‘play our part’ in supporting and building local initiatives of individuals, families, groups and communities.
  • When whole communities are affected, we look for collective ways forward, which involves finding ways to share skills among the various members of our community.

Narrative Therapy can be combined with other therapeutic approaches, including humanistic and experiential approaches.

Mental Health Concerns That Can Benefit from Narrative Therapy

One advantage of Story Therapy is that it does not focus on any specific concerns. For this reason, Narrative Therapy can be applied to clients with a range of presentation concerns and mental health issues.

Narrative therapy has been found to successfully treat children struggling with delinquency, violence, and other behavioral problems (Seligman and Reichenberg, 2010). In addition, Narrative Therapy can be effective for those struggling with eating disorders, marital and relationship problems, survivors of childhood abuse, individuals struggling with grief, individuals living with schizophrenia, violent sex offenders, and trauma survivors (Seligman, & Reichenberg) . , 2010).

As with all therapeutic approaches, there are limitations to Narrative Therapy. Narrative Therapy is not suitable for clients with poor contact with reality, those looking for quick results, those in crisis, and those with little hope for their therapeutic results.

Story Therapy Activities

Story Therapy exercises can be used to reinforce and apply material discussed during class. Narrative Therapy activities can allow clients to practice the skills they learn in session in a safe and encouraging environment. Additionally, it can give counselors a chance to provide feedback on helpful changes clients can make to the skills they are learning. Here is a sample list of Narrative Therapy exercises that can be used during Narrative Therapy Sessions:

  1. Work with your client as they work to write their life story. This can include important experiences from their past, current life experiences, and things they are working towards in the future. This exercise can help clients gain new insights into their own experiences and help broaden their perspective of themselves. There is TherapyByPro My life story worksheet can guide you and your client in this exercise. Allow time to explore whether this activity might bring something new to their perspective.
  2. Using externalization techniques can allow the client to isolate their problems from themselves. This can boost their confidence and self-esteem. An example would be a self-diagnosed mental illness. It might sound like someone saying, “I’m bipolar” and “I’m anxious.” Conversely, clients may change their story to something like, “I live with anxiety” or “I struggle with bipolar symptoms.” Similarly, this is something Counselors can model for clients by considering how we relate their problems to them as human beings.
  3. Spend time researching and identifying your customer’s core values. Core value worksheets can help facilitate this activity by offering common values ​​for your client to consider. After your client completes the exercise, you can talk about how their values ​​relate to their current challenges and future goals. Is there something they are working on or struggling with that doesn’t align with their values?
  4. Deconstruction is an approach counselors can use to help clients identify the root of their anxiety and what it means to them. By asking clients to be specific during this exercise, you can try to understand the themes your client is experiencing and contributing to their story. Once they have a better understanding of the theme or pattern they are experiencing, they can work to correct the situation.
  5. Ask your client to spend 10 minutes a day writing about a difficult experience they had. Your customer will write about the same experience 5 days in a row. At the end of 5 days, ask your client to bring their written story to the meeting. Take time to explore any changes in the story over the 5 days and how those changes affect the story they relate to the experience. Satisfy your customer worksheetsimilar to the one available on TherapyByPro to facilitate this exercise at home.
  6. A follow-up exercise to the previous Narrative Therapy activity would be to revisit the difficult experience they wrote about and try to reconstruct it this time. It involves exploring why the event happened, why they felt the way they did, and why they acted the way they did. Give them time to process this exercise and explore the changes in their stories.
  7. Talk to your client about the different ways they can express themselves. This can include meditation, journaling, drawing, moving, or visualizing. Encourage your client to use different forms of expression to find one or more ways that they can effectively express what they are feeling. Give your client time to talk about any inhibitions or hesitations they have about certain methods of self-expression, as they may have a different story about the activity than the one you want to try.
  8. Usage a the tree of life During a Narrative Therapy session, coaching will allow your client to explore where they came from, their normative activities, skills and values, their dreams and aspirations, what is important to them, their legacies, and what they want to leave with. others. This exercise can help clients work toward letting go of their unhealthy beliefs and living in a way that healthily reflects their true selves.
  9. Another writing therapy activity would be to have your client write their own definitions. With a vague direction, you can allow the client to write their definition as they believe it should be written at the moment or how they want it to be written. This can be done in session or you can ask your client to complete this Narrative therapy exercise as homework. Give them time to process this activity and explore the changes it has brought about for them and the behaviors that support the values ​​and goals they want to pursue.
  10. Ask your client to write two letters; one to themselves as a child and one to their adolescence. Encourage them to think about what wisdom or encouragement would help them during this time and what they feel is important to share. Topics that can be included are how to cope with difficult emotions and situations and how to find happiness and joy in those moments. Encourage your client to show kindness and compassion in the letters they want to receive during those times. Allow time for the client to share the letter, if they are comfortable doing so, and process the experience for them.

Final thoughts on selecting activities for narrative therapy

Thanks for reading this resource on 10 Narrative Therapy Exercises and Activities You Can Do With Your Clients. The ability to use Narrative Therapy with clients with a range of mental health and interpersonal concerns makes it an attractive therapeutic approach option. Narrative Therapy activities can help improve a client’s self-esteem and confidence. By examining their values ​​and core beliefs, clients can see if their current behavior is aligned with what is important to them.

If you would like to learn more about using Narrative Therapy in sessions or using Narrative Therapy exercises, please take the time to look at continuing education opportunities and other training experiences. Developing a solid understanding of Narrative Therapy skills, beliefs, and interventions will allow you to develop your ability to apply Narrative Therapy within your counseling relationship.

TherapyByPro is a program online mental health directory connecting mental health professionals with clients in need. If you are a mental health professional, you can Join our community and add your experience listing here. We have templates for assessments, practice forms, and worksheets that mental health professionals can use to facilitate their practice. Look at all of us mental health worksheets here.


  • Denborough, D., & White, C. (2007, November). Collective storytelling practices. The story Therapy Center. Retrieved March 9, 2023
  • Seligman, L., & Reichenberg, LW (2010). Story therapy. In Counseling theories and Psychotherapy: Systems, Strategies, and Skills (3rd ed., pp. 220–225). essay, Pearson Education, Inc.

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