Peter Gevisser is one of the founding members of “The New York Collective for Narrative Therapies”.
What is Narrative Therapy?
Narrative Therapy takes into account, not only the different stories we might tell about our experience, but also how we talk to ourselves about our stories. In session with clients, I’m not only listening to the content of their words, but the music behind their words and the gaps, or utterances between the words. I recall a client who in our first sessions presented with a kind of nervous tic, of saying: “Anyway”, after each expression. It struck me that in this small, seemingly innocent utterance, he was negating all that he’d expressed before. It was like he was, in that small emission, cutting himself off from his experience, from his narrative – setting himself up in opposition to it. We worked, over the course of many sessions on his substituting the utterance,”and so…”, each time he habitually wanted to say “anyway”. Try an experiment with yourself. Try thinking or talking about a difficult moment in the last week, and end the thought or expression with “anyway”. Note how it feels in your body. There is a certain suffering in this. Now try the same experiment but end the expression with “and so..”. In doing this we are able to accept and incorporate our previous experience into our lives. It’s a simple but profound adjustment.
The Narrative approach affords the therapist and client an authentic kind of exchange that I bring to my practice each day.