The pragmatic question for this study arises, what does my practise of narrative therapy entail?
The client is the expert and stays the expert in narrative conversations. I am thus a conversational expert and an expert on my own story about my relationship with food in excess, as well as a well informed expert on literature concerning eating disorders. In the same way, the women in this study are the experts on their stories surrounding their relationships with food in excess and as the researcher-therapist I will listen to them from a not-knowing position and with an inquisitive attitude.
I have grown up in a society where I was taught to see myself as being the problem, for example: am a dominating person, rather than I stand in relationship to a monster of fear that I will be rejected, therefore I must control the situation. I am thus part of the problem or I am the problem. With narrative ways of thinking in practise, I became aware of the power that I have as an individual when I externalise the problem and say that I am not the problem, but that the problem is the problem. This allows me to see clearly that I stand in relationship to a monster of fear of rejection and I can take direct action against this fear. I am then in control of how much I will allow this fear-monster to affect my behaviour, thoughts and feelings.
In search of my own theoretical position in therapeutic practices, I have read many texts with regards to the different schools of thought in psychology and came to the following understanding of the literature. The psychological view of a person started off with seeing so-called abnormal behaviour as a result of a person being possessed by demons, to the person being labelled as having a pathological problem, thus having the problem inside the person, to the problem existing in relationships with other people. The paradigm shift for me is to see individuals and their problems as an equation where the person stands in a relationship with his or her problem.
This paradigm shift has been difficult for me, because it was safer for me to label and diagnose a person with certain pathology. From the literature and my Masters Psychology training I have learnt that by placing a person’s problem in a certain category, it is thought to be possible to explain all human behaviour. If all human behaviour could be labelled or explained, then human behaviour could be predicted and necessary treatment plans implemented. For example: with obese women the suggested treatment, according to the literature and weight management programmes is often that the person must lose some weight to gain a positive self-esteem and body-image. This troubles me, because my opinion is that women have more stories than just an obese story and that if we challenge or question dominant discourses, new-old stories or alternative stories may emerge. Consequently, challenging the assumption that women must loose weight to gain a positive selfesteem and body-image.
I – Letter of invitation
II – Narrative letter
III – Letter of different concepts
IV – Letter of the research process
V – Letter of discoveries
VI – Letter of more discoveries
VII – Letter of reflections
Appendix A: Informed consent
Appendix B: Discourses and alternative stories from open coding
Appendix C: Discourses and alternative stories from axial coding