Teen Written/Narrative Therapy is one of the many Expressive Arts Therapies we offer at Paradigm New York. Teen Written/ Narrative Therapy is a therapy that uses writing and storytelling as a way for teens to inquire, process, and gain insight into their lives and themselves. Teen Written/Narrative Therapy is based upon the premise that teens are experts in their own lives and that, when supported to do so, teens have the strength, insight, skills, and willpower necessary in order to make significant and lasting positive changes in their lives. Regardless of what kinds of struggles related to mental health and/or substance abuse teens might be dealing with, this treatment approach promotes the belief that those struggles and weaknesses are separate from the teens themselves and that teens can not only overcome those struggles, but can change their life stories, altogether.
Written/Narrative Therapy views the beliefs, thought patterns, habits, and actions of tees as the “story” they’re currently living, and which they tell to others as well as themselves. Therefore, the first step in this therapy is for teens to recognize the stories they’re telling (and likely believing.) These stories may be made up of a combination of historical facts, experiences, feelings, fears, and/or repeated themes, and may also include aspects of both the future and the past. These stories or narratives are what teens tend to tell themselves and/or have come to believe, as a way of explaining and understanding their lives. As such, these stories have incredible power as they’re also interconnected with their identities.
During Teen Written/Narrative Therapy, therapists help teens to evaluate and reflect upon what these stories are and how valid they are. For instance, for teens struggling with mental health and/or substance abuse disorders, teens can come to believe that certain beliefs and thoughts are true, which are in fact false and furthermore, which can have significant negative effects in their lives. Some examples of this include teens wrestling with depression, who begins to have a very negative view of life or a teen struggling with an Eating Disorder, and is no longer viewing herself or himself accurately. These negative stories can begin to hold great power in the teens’ lives, which can be very harmful, over time.
During Teen Written/Narrative Therapy sessions, the therapist listens and evaluates the teens’ stories, in order to identify potential negative thought patterns, beliefs, and/or behaviors that are present. At the same time, therapists will also look for strengths, which can be used to help encourage and support teens to overcome certain challenges. Over time, therapists will work with teens to help them understand that essentially, they are the authors of their own lives and their identities, and they don’t have to be at the whim of some of the thoughts, habits, and/or feelings that they’ve been battling. At the same time, therapists will work with teens to help them discover and realize their hopes, dreams, and desires that are present, which need to have a place in their story. By evaluating their stories in this way, therapists can help teens not only to focus on how to change and craft their stories, but also how to shift their understanding of their identities, as well. Through this time together, very positive and powerful transformations can take place in teens’ lives.
At Paradigm New York, we offer a number of different Expressive Arts Therapy programs, including Teen Written/Narrative Therapy. Paradigm New York is a residential holistic teen treatment facility, located in Westchester, New York, and dedicated to providing teens with the highest quality treatment available today.