Dr. Johan Cloete

BA Hons Psych (UF)

Psychologist in Vereeniging

Suite 27 (new wing)
Midvaal Private Hospital, Nile Drive,
Three Rivers, Vereeniging
Call 073 4584079

Mo.- Fr. 8h00 -16h30

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I have counselling skills, but you are the EXPERT in your life! Narrative counselling is a unique approach that places your experience in a central position of importance and work with the following focus:

  1. We all create stories of our lives and we tend to live accordingly. These stories constitute the guidelines for how we live. They shape not only the way we think and act, but also how we make sense of ourselves and the world around us.
  2. Our stories about ourselves have been influenced by our experiences, circumstances, environment, community and culture.
  3. Our stories are always based on SELECTED events—they are never complete.
  4. We all have some key stories about ourselves that are deeply engrained.
  5. We try to fit our experiences (new and different) into the stories we already have.
  6. When our experience  does not fit comfortably into the existing stories, they become a filter. Consequently they can blind us to feelings, thoughts and behaviours that don’t fit our stories.
  7. We don’t have to passively accept the stories we have created and lived with, or which were imposed upon us. Our stories may not reflect and contain the full spectrum of what we prefer and are capable of. There are always other and richer stories about us, the world and the people around us which might be silenced by the current stories. When we are empowered to access these alternative stories, we might be able not only to create new meanings about ourselves, but also discover new and preferred ways of living.
  8. In our lives there are always material for new stories that we have not yet told ourselves or other people. It is these stories that often free and empower us to think and act in new, more helpful, ways.
  9. The narrative approach uses the stories people bring about themselves and their lives, to re-shape new lenses, new stories, new experiences and new futures. It is the role of the counsellor/psychologist to help you look at your stories/life in ways that help you “author” new stories and “re-author” old ones.
  10. These new stories can have remarkably healing effects.

The narrative approach uses the stories we tell about of our lives as the key to healing and growth process. In the face of serious and sometimes potentially deadly problems, the idea of hearing or telling stories may seem a trivial pursuit. It is hard to believe that conversations can shape new realities. But they do. And they help to shape events into narratives/stories of hope.

Often when people go to see a counsellor, their experiences of life are dominated by problem stories (for example: stories of ‘failure’, self-blame, a deficiency in something etc). Narrative counsellors look for exceptions to problem-dominated stories because these exceptions are entry points into alternative stories (for example: stories of survival, of resilience, resistance, coping or managing etc). Although we sometimes find ourselves reducing our experience down to a few words (e.g. ‘I’m a failure at relationships’), other stories can and do exist. Counselling conversations can assist us to discover alternative ways of understanding our lives and recover lost or forgotten experiences of ourselves. A narrative counsellor possesses technical skills that can be used to investigate a range of problems and these kinds of counselling conversations can even be quite enjoyable!

The way we usually talk in psychology, churches, the medical profession, courts, schools, the workplace and the rest of our daily lives tend to glue the person and the problem together. Talk such as: ‘He/she is the depressed spouse’, or ‘They are a dysfunctional family’, or ‘She/he is a problem child’ or ‘He/she is the problem in the organization, is accepted ways of speech as common to kitchens as to the boardrooms in the corporate world.

In the narrative lifestyle we prefer to separate the person and the problem.

This approach not only frees the person victimized by the problem of guilt, but also empowers her/him to take action against the problem. Furthermore it helps the people surrounding the victim to join hands in a collaborating action against the problem.

The Problem (capital letter ‘P’, because the Problem has its own identity – remember you are not the problem.) may have a tight grip on your life. However, in our conversations you will soon discover that it is not all time the case. These brief moments which the Problem does not have all the power are called ‘sparkling events’. The reason for this is that you certainly do have specific skills at your disposal to resist the Problem with. These skills are called ‘unique outcomes’!

Won’t it be terrific to discover yours?

The style in which I counsel…

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