Narrative-informed medical family therapy: using narrative therapy practices in brief medical encounters

Fam Syst Health. 2014 Dec;32(4):416-25. doi: 10.1037/fsh0000082. Epub 2014 Oct 20.


Effective mental health practice in a medical context is a collaborative "both/and" relationship between therapists, patients, and health care team collaborators. The biomedical model that is most often used in health care is an important piece of a patient's healing, and narrative therapy brings an excellent patient and family centered addition to this framework. Using this model, behavioral health therapists can help patients understand how their experiences of illness may be shaped by larger social discourses and how they may then choose which of these messages about illness fit for them and which do not. Narrative therapy additionally facilitates the goals of medical family therapy (agency and communion) through engaging patients as experts in their own illness experience and facilitating a sense of control over the different ways that they choose to draw on support and cope with their illness-related challenges. In this article, we discuss the benefits of using narrative therapy in brief behavioral health encounters within medical settings and include implications for behavioral health practitioners interested in using this modality to better meet the needs of patients and families.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Family Therapy / methods*
  • Family Therapy / trends
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mental Health / trends*
  • Narrative Therapy / methods*
  • Narrative Therapy / trends
  • Patient-Centered Care / methods*
  • Patient-Centered Care / trends