Narrative therapy is an approach which social service professionals in a counseling capacity can use to help their clients discover other aspects of ther own story than that which they perceive as problematic. Lorraine Hedtke's book applies this approach to counseling the bereaved who have lost an important person in their lives, by helping them to realize that the relationship formed with that deceased person does not die with physical death, but remains a formative factor in the bereaved's sense of self and life going forward. She encourages the bereaved to think of their circle of friends and family as a "club" of which they are all "members", and to consider the deceased as an ongoing "member" of the club, albeit in a different way than prior to the death. It's an approach that boosts the importance of relationships, plays down the need to "say goodbye" to the deceased, along with all of the "tasks" that have become part of the grief counselor's bag of techniques. It's a helpful read, and narrative therapy can become a valuable tool when used in a balanced way. We are all people of story, and the tenor of the story which dominates our perception of self and others can change how we think and feel. Ann P. White, LCSW
The way it sees death of our beloved is so different, it opens space for dealing with death in a very personal way beyond the traditions of for example "stages of grief". It encourages to keep a relationship with the people we have lost in death. Not because the physical body is not here anymore, the relationship with them must die too. It shares in a very nice way how death has been looked in the medical field or in social sciences and how are other ways of looking at it. Even how to talk with someone that is dying, in a way that will not get traumatized by the conversation. It uses the re-member conversation to keep in touch with people we love but is not here anymore because of death. A very different way of relating to death and grief.
As a narrative therapist working in hospice I didn't need the first few chapters that provided some history and a primer on post modern ways of working and narrative therapy in general BUT I am relatively new to hospice and really enjoyed the case studies and example questions. I have put them to work in my practice and shared them with others. I think that our clients are really benefitting from them. I get many, "Hmmm...that is a good question.." Comments that open up new and more hopeful areas of discussion. The book is pricey but I am happy I made the investment.