43 Narrative Therapy Questions To Interrogate Your Problem Story
ATTENTION! Get your journal out, open a fresh word document, or call a dear friend who you can get into a meaningful conversation with. I’ve got the ultimate list for you. Here are 43 narrative therapy questions to interrogate any problem story that is getting in the way of the life you want to live.
These questions can have a deep and lasting impact on invasive problems, so give yourself the time and space to engage with them properly. I promise, you won’t regret it.
What are invasive problems?
They’re the type that won’t go away, that seem to follow us around no matter we go or who we’re interacting with or what we’re doing. They get in the way of the life we hope for ourselves.
They’re the problems that have us responding to situations in ways we don’t like, or stop us from being our true selves, or block us from expressing something really important or stop us from making choices that kindly serve us best (and those around us).
Invasive problems interrupt the ways we would hope to act that we are sick and tired of.
Luckily, narrative therapy specialises in helping folks free themselves from invasive problems.
What are you waiting for? Let’s get stuck into those narrative therapy questions.
What would you call this problem? Think of a short name that is easy for you to remember, even when you feel distressed (eg: The Shoulds; Diane Depression; The Anxiety etc…).
How would you define it? Is there an image or a character/story that embodies this problem for you? What experiences do you have where this problem is most evident? Where and when does it REALLY rear it’s ugly head and prevent you from taking the actions you’d most like (or have you doing things you really hate)?…
Spend some time, drill down and see what comes out and up, then name the problem boldly and clearly for yourself.
Before the problem was operating in secret. Now it has been exposed.
It might not feel good, but it’s a positive development.
We can now ask more narrative therapy questions to change its impact on your life.
How does the problem get in the way of the life you want for yourself?
What does the problem talk you into about yourself?
What tricks does it use to keep you getting out from under it?
Are there any particular environmental/life conditions that make it worse? Any conditions that help it fade?
What plans does this problem have for your life?
Where do you stand on these plans? Are you ok with those activities?
What would be your preferred outcome if the problem wasn’t making plans for your life?
If you were to liberate your life from the problem, what do you imagine that would feel like? What would a specific daily interaction look like without it?
Is there a movie or a book scene, or a time you remember that ‘looks’ like you imagine it might feel if you were to escape the influences of the problem? Really get luscious and evocative with this. Invite sensations to flow through you.
How do you respond when the problem rears it’s ugly head? How would you prefer to respond (in a you-centred way, not how someone else would or how someone else might tell you to respond)?
Without needing to ‘change’ yourself, what can you picture when you poke your head out from under it? Throw it off your shoulder for 5 minutes? What do you do, who are YOU in that moment without the shackles of the problem?
Is there someone who seems to live freely away from this problem? Someone you admire? In what way does knowing them/admiring them impact how you might approach the problem?
In what ways does knowing you contribute to this person’s life? Are there skills you have that are more easily recognised by this person? If you truly look at yourself through their eyes, do any of your skills become more freely available to you?
If you connect with these skills you have, what affect do they have on the next step you might take in managing this problem?
When you connect with the person you admire, can you channel some of them into your next steps in reclaiming your life back from the problem?
If you lean into a sense of your own worth or competence, does that have an impact on the problem? If so, how?
What does this tell you about what is important to you? What you most value?
If you are able to get a sense of what it might feel like if you weren’t overtaken by the problem, how do these burgeoning ideas/feelings support you in taking a next step (or a small shuffle if a step feels too big)?
How will you acknowledge these actions you are taking?
How will you notice them, commit them to memory, be pleased with them, record them in some way?
Who needs to be recruited into this new development? Into the ways you may be trying to do things without the pervasiveness of the problem? How will they bear witness and support your commitment?
What difference does it make to you to know that you CAN make some headway on the problem?
By knowing this, is it possible to ‘flourish’ as you move further away from the influences of the problem? Continue to acknowledge the steps you are taking? Formulate more steps along the path as you discover more about yourself?
What hopes for the future do these possibilities of living out from under the problem open up for you?
Is there anything more you can now imagine?
What visions become more likely as you continue, slowly, forward…
main image: Daniel McCullough 2nd image: Danielle MacInnes on Unsplash
Do you have any questions you to add to this list? Feel free to add them below in the comments. If you liked this post, what about this one on creatively using the interwebs as self-care. You might also like to sign up for the blog and get it delivered to your inbox once a month or so. If you’re looking for an online narrative therapist then please do reach out.