Date of Award

1-18-2013

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

John A. Mills, Ph.D., ABPP

Second Advisor

Donald U. Robertson, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Chauna J. Craig, Ph.D.

Abstract

Narrative therapy is grounded in the principle that individuals create personal narratives, or life-stories, out of their experiences in order to organize and create a frame of reference for understanding these experiences. The nature and tone of these narratives influence real-life patterns. Narrative therapy focuses on exploring problematic narratives, and collaborating with the client to create new, more positive personal narratives. Narrative therapy has been used with individuals, children, families, couples, and groups; yet its research base is limited. Likewise, there is limited literature on eliciting the initial problem-saturated narratives in work with children. Literature on the topics of child-centered practices and children's disclosure, however, supports the notion that children often have a difficult time sharing their stories with others, especially with adults. From a narrative therapy perspective, the consequences of failing to elicit an initial problem-saturated narrative are significant. If one cannot gain access to the problem-saturated story, it is impossible to re-author a more adaptive story. The question then becomes: how does one elicit the problem-saturated narrative with children who are hesitant to discuss their experiences? This dissertation addressed this issue by creating a therapeutic tool to assist in eliciting children's stories, namely, a collection of stories written by children facing a wide range of difficulties. Clinicians may read these stories with clients facing similar problems to facilitate the elicitation of the client's narratives. After collection of these stories, children's attitudes to the narrative-collection process was explored; as will clinicians' attitudes to the use of such a tool.

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