Externalizing the problem
- The assumption that narratives or stories shape a person's identity, as when a person assesses a problem in their life for its effects and influences as a "dominant story";
- An appreciation for the creation and use of documents, as when a person and a counselor co-author "A Graduation from the Blues Certificate";
- An "externalizing" emphasis, such as by naming a problem so that a person can assess its effects in his or her life, come to know how it operates or works in their life, relate their earliest history, evaluate it to take a definite position on its presence, and in the end choose their relationship to it.
- A focus on "unique outcomes" (a term of Erving Goffman) or exceptions to the problem that wouldn't be predicted by the problem's narrative or story itself.
- A strong awareness of the impact of power relations in therapeutic conversations, with a commitment to checking back with the client about the effects of therapeutic styles in order to mitigate the possible negative effect of invisible assumptions or beliefs held by the therapist.
- Responding to personal failure conversations
Criticisms of narrative therapy
- Narrative therapy has been criticised as holding to a social constructionist belief that there are no absolute truths, but only socially sanctioned points of view, and that Narrative therapists therefore privilege their client's concerns over and above "dominating" cultural narratives.
- Several critics have posed concerns that narrative therapy has made gurus of its leaders, particularly in the light that its leading proponents tend to be overly harsh about most other kinds of therapy. Others have criticized narrative therapy for failing to acknowledge that the individual Narrative therapist may bring personal opinions and biases into the therapy session.
- Narrative therapy is also criticized for the lack of clinical and empirical studies to validate its many claims. Etchison & Kleist (2000) state that narrative therapy's focus on qualitative outcomes is not congruent with larger quantitativeresearch and findings which the majority of respected empirical studies employ today. This has led to a lack of research material which can support its claims of efficacy.