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Writing The Story Of Your Life: Narrative Therapy And Healing

Storytelling seems to be written so deeply into us. We’ve done it for millennia, to capture knowledge and wisdom and heart. Yet stories aren’t only verbal. They’re visceral, too. They’re the lived-out stories of our days.

So what kind of story are you telling with your life?

Where might the story of you be headed right now?
(And is that where you’d like it to go?)

When you pull back from the minutiae and dialogue of the everyday, what themes seem to emerge off your pages? Are there patterns re-visited across time?

And as the author of this particular story, this particular life, what does all of that mean for you?

Let’s delve into the pages for a moment.

I was lucky enough to attend a symposium on “Narrative and Healing”* recently, where writers and doctors and a therapist explored the power of all of the co-created stories of our intertwined lives. The power of them to heal.

And it reminded me at times of Narrative Therapy, which is all about seeing the way you might have pulled together the particular threads of the story of your life so far; and asking whether there are perhaps also other ways of re-weaving them; of “re-authoring” your story and yourself. Of consciously seeing the narrative that you’ve co-created with others and the world. And consciously evaluating what else might also be important to include in that. What else wants to be told about you.

It’s a rich metaphor, this business of seeing our lives as stories. It’s more than just tricky word-play. For, as Carolyn Rickett said at the symposium:

“Metaphors…profoundly shape our view of life and expectations…”

And, “New metaphors create new thoughts.”


Maggie MacKellar (the author of When It Rains: A Memoir) noted that:

“Words tell us who we are and who we can become.”


And, as Brenda Walker (the author of Reading by Moonlight: How Books Saved a Life) put it: “Storytelling is the opposite of drowning.”


So what kind of words do you use to describe and understand:

  • Yourself?
  • Others?
  • The world?
  • The whole mystery of being alive?

What kinds of stories are you telling yourself about yourself? Which stories are you bringing to life in your very being?

And which parts of you might want to be more strongly included in the story of you as you live it out, tell it out, day by day?


*The Narrative and Healing Symposium was hosted by Australian Literature at Sydney Uni.
Photo and text copyright: Gabrielle Gawne-Kelnar
Gabrielle Gawne-Kelnar (Grad Dip Counselling & Psychotherapy) is a writer, blogger and Sydney psychotherapist in private practice at One Life Counselling & Psychotherapy. Gabrielle also facilitates telephone support groups for people who are living with cancer, for their carers, and for people who have been bereaved through a cancer experience. She was the former editor of a journal on counselling and psychotherapy and she provides regular therapeutic updates on facebook and Twitter @OneLifeTherapy.
Writing The Story Of Your Life: Narrative Therapy And Healing

Gabrielle Gawne-Kelnar

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APA Reference
Gawne-Kelnar, G. (2019). Writing The Story Of Your Life: Narrative Therapy And Healing. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 26, 2020, from


Last updated: 29 Mar 2019
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