Norman (1994) argues, L-directed thought attempts to generalize or “strip” the emotional value of subjective emotions that encapsulate meaning. Narratives “capture the context [and] emotions” that frames decision-making offering a greater understanding of its importance. They offer a platform to pursue meaning in what our stories tell us about ourselves.
Narratives have been recognized by Xerox, NASA, and medical schools as a vital process to depart from reductionist thought to a more holistic way of understanding individuals. They recognize that we filter, retain, and compress years of experience, thought and emotions that may be extrapolated on paper to illumine, “who we are and what we are about” (Pink, 2004, p.115). Narratives develop a process of pathway thinking that reconstructs the “artifacts” of our lives.
The efficacy of its application is that knowledge (L-Directed) is often insufficient to confront a transformative crisis resulting in resistance to change. Trauma creates cognitive blockages that serve as defense mechanisms deployed to protect one’s self. In response, the narrative process normalizes dysfunction (Hammer et al, 2012). Hall and Powell (2011) contend that the chronicling process draws together divergent elements of the self that construct an “overarching self-narrative” that amplifies meaning (p. 2).
Larsson, Lilja, Braun, and Sjoblom (2013) contend narratives offer a subjective inquiry into “the psychological worlds of individuals,” where they implicitly draw from experiences that express the realities of their life (p. 1,286). This empowers them to objectify the problem itself as distinctly separate from themselves (Beck & Beck, 2011). Hammer, Dingel, Ostergren, Nowakowski and Koenig (2012) argue the biological or pathogenic approaches have the propensity “to become dominant narratives of addiction” (p. 712).
Formatively, this offers individuals utilizing narrative therapy the opportunity to engage in a subjective process that has the propensity to circumvent impasses. Narratives animate experiential strengths used to address challenges drawing upon the right brain (R-Directed thinking) to actualize pathway thinking. This creates a path to reconcile methods of change (R-Directed) in order for the left brain (L-Directed) to logically implement change itself. This represents an integration of both hemispheres where individuals inhabit both worlds (Pink, 2005).
Cognitively, this builds a new subjective understanding that false narratives found may be reconstructed from this newfound knowledge. It is an emotional response to past behavior that is incongruent with that dynamic tension between the “real self” and the “ideal self,” or who they wish to become (Boyatzis & McKee, 2006). It is a holistic process that allows individuals to validate their strengths as a mechanism to change.
Finally, McLeod (1997) argues the narrative is “at the heart of the [therapist’s] work,” taking a constructionist position (p.54). Deconstructing disrupts automatic thoughts and enables individuals to rethink who they are and who they strive to become. Intentional change is a healing process where emotional insight from recollections offers a pathway to “overcoming suffering,” and in that change process meaning is found (Frankl, 2006). It reveals a subjective understanding that each individual is of inestimable value and that intentional change holds new meaning to a life filled with purpose.
Blair Hollis M.A. GCDF BCCC
Crossroads Consulting, Inc.
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