The other day I was listening to a friend and he said something that struck me. He was explaining that prior to the pandemic, he associated mental health as a thing people struggle with as opposed to something everyone has. As he was going through a hardship, like most of us have during these pandemic years, his wife explained to him that his mental health was low.
On the defense, he exclaimed how mental health is a real battle for some, he was not one of them, and to not throw the word out for no reason. It’s interesting. So many people in this country are in therapy and speak quite openly about it. There are loads of social media accounts, like @mytherapistsays that detail all the ins and outs of therapy and benefits in a transparent and authentic way.
Then you have people like New Yorkers, who really value the gains they make in therapy that extend into all categories of life. But many people don’t inquire what type of therapy the person is in. Are you aware that there is music therapy, behavioral therapy, or wilderness therapy even? One of the most common, narrative therapy is subtle. As humans, we tell stories to ourselves all day long. Externally, we consume television, books, and social media. Internally, we assess certain situations and environments and make up our own assessments.
What is narrative therapy? How can it help me?
Narrative therapy helps you problem solve and deeply think about things before reacting. It helps you make connections to the things that occur in your life daily. Additionally, this kind of therapy can grant you new a perspective—giving you the tools to explore a place deeper than you have before. In other words, narrative therapy gives you an enhanced way to self-reflect. When you begin to practice what you learn, you’ll be able to identify your strengths and separate them from your identity.
For example, here’s what happens when I am stressed with the nuances of being a freelancer who has multiple deadlines for different publications every day. Thanks to narrative therapy, instead of getting down on myself for procrastinating, or not getting done what I set out to do for my monthly goals, I reframe my sentence. I change it from “Ugh, why do I always do this,” into “I don’t intend to stack so many things in one day. But, I am thankful I work well under pressure and tight turnarounds.”
Crazy enough, that simple switch tells my brain that it’s no longer under attack, and reminds me that I can and will get everything done. It’s essentially making sure that inner talk is helpful and solution-driven rather than hurtful. It’s about asking yourself how you would prefer things to be, rather than harping on how stressful and unmanageable the situation is.
If you’re in therapy and you haven’t felt a different perspective, it might be a sign to switch therapists.