Narrative Therapy

What is narrative therapy?

Narrative therapy is a respectful, non-blaming approach to therapy which centres us as the experts in our own lives.


Narrative therapy views problems as separate from people. It assumes that we have many skills, beliefs, values and abilities that can support us in changing our relationship to the problems in our lives.


In a ‘narrative therapy’ context, our stories are made up of events, linked by a theme, occurring over time. A story begins to emerge as certain events are selected over other events as either more important or sometimes, as the truth. As the story takes shape, we select certain information, while other events become neglected. And so, over time, the same story can get told, over and over again.


These stories shape our perspectives on our lives and can end up impacting our future too.

Often by the time a person has come to therapy these stories they have for themselves – and their lives – have become completely dominated by their problems. These narratives are referred to as ‘problem-saturated’ stories, which can also become ‘identity stories’.


Our identity stories can end up having a powerful negative influence over the way we see ourselves, our lives and our capabilities.


Your narrative therapist will work with you to help you resist the effects and influences of these problem stories and deficit descriptions. This involves listening and looking out for clues that run counter to the story. Often, what we begin to discover are thin traces to subordinated stories of intentions, hopes, commitments, values, desires and dreams.


With curiosity and exploration, these preferred stories and accounts of people’s lives become thickened and more richly described.


The focus is not on ‘experts’ solving problems. It is on people co-discovering – through conversations – the hopeful, preferred, and previously unrecognised hidden possibilities contained within themselves.


Like this, narrative-informed therapists collaborate with people in ‘re-authoring’ the stories of their lives.

Day 6

What happens in narrative therapy?

Your therapist may:

  • Invite you to reflect on the influence of the problem(s) on your life, and also the influence that you have over the problem(s)
  • Ask about your preferences for the therapy, your life, and the future
  • Ask questions that invite you to notice the things you do – and your intentions – that seem to be counter to the problem(s)
  • Help you explore times when things have been going better for you
  • Invite you to reflect on cultural and political discourses that may be influencing the problem(s) and how you respond to them
  • Help you consider the valued relationships in your life, both past and present
  • With your agreement, invite key people to witness and celebrate emerging, preferred identity stories

Frequently asked questions

You are likely to be offered narrative therapy if we believe you will benefit from a strengths-based approach rather than a problem-focused approach. In other words, in narrative therapy you will be recognising, celebrating and building on your existing skills rather than focusing on identifying and overhauling problem areas. Narrative therapy is a more exploratory approach which can help you understand and reframe your difficulties in a new, preferable way.

While narrative therapy can be a valuable approach for all kinds of different difficulties it tends to be particularly popular when working with children, older people and grief. Narrative therapy differs to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) in the sense that it takes an exploratory, strengths-based approach rather than a structured, goal-orientated one.

It is likely to vary depending on the nature and complexity of your difficulties but you can expect your therapy to last anywhere between 16 – 20 sessions.

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Dr Elena Touroni

Dr Elena Touroni is a skilled and experienced consultant psychologist with a track record of delivering high-quality services for individuals with all common emotional difficulties and those with a diagnosis of personality disorder. She is experienced in service design and delivery, the management of multi-disciplinary teams, organisational consultancy, and development and delivery of both national and bespoke training to providers in the statutory and non-statutory sector.

Having obtained a first degree in Psychology (BSc) at the American College of Greece, she completed her doctoral training at the University of Surrey. Dr Touroni is highly experienced in the assessment and treatment of depression, anxiety, substance misuse, personality disorder, eating disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder, adjustment disorder and relationship difficulties. She works with both individuals and couples and can offer therapy in English and Greek.

Dr Touroni has held a variety of clinical and managerial positions including as Head of Service in the NHS. Further she has held academic positions for the University of Surrey and the Institute of Mental Health lecturing on specialist postgraduate Masters and Doctorate programmes.

She is trained in several specialist therapeutic approaches such as schema therapy, dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT), cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), mindfulness-based approaches and Cognitive Analytic Therapy (CAT). As well as holding a variety of NHS positions, Dr. Touroni is the co-founder of a private practice in Central London that has been a provider of psychological therapy for all common emotional difficulties including personality disorder since 2002. She is the founder and one of two directors of The Chelsea Psychology Clinic.