Critical Analysis Of The Narrative Approach Theory And Solution Focused Approach Theory On The Example Of A Case Study

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This work would be critically analyzing the narrative approach theory and solution focused approach theory with reference on possible outcomes that can be achieved with these theories when working with Geoff as in the case study, the framework the theories adopt and use in working with various individuals, how it understands and solves the problems of the individuals whom it works with. The philosophies of the theories, the perspectives adopted and proposed by the various school of thoughts who have developed and are behind the theories. The views of the narrative approach theory and solution focused approach theory in relation to the anti-oppressive practice, socio, economic and political perspectives of the social work theory in relation to the social work theories adopted in working with Geoff. The piece of work would go further to give clarification on the implications of using the narrative approach theory and solution focused approach theory when working with individuals and how the theories informs the intervention that may be achieved in working with Geoff and how the both theories complement each other and overlap as well.

Principles of narrative approach

Narrative theory uses a story telling approach to counseling (White and Epston, 1990). Narrative approach theory became a prominent form of therapy in the1980’s (Kelley, 1996). Narrative approach does not discover the truth about who the individuals are, but lays emphasis to understanding where people learnt these truths about themselves and the role the truth plays in the individual’s story. Narrative theory is of the view that problems should be referred to as discourse. Discourse is truth which the individual has come to believe in line with cultural and societal exposure. Separating a person from there problem is a paramount part of adopting the theory, this is also known as externalization of the problem. It also deals with the deconstruction of the discourse. Externalizing the problem means separating the person from the problem. This will be achieved through the language and style of question which the social worker adopts. As a result, clients’ inclination to inflict blame on themselves or others begins to lessen (Kelley, 1996). This would be seen to be very relevant in working with Mr. Collins, so he does not blame himself nor begin to suffer from social isolation as well as depression. This is because he does not trust anyone again. This will seem to make him work on himself and reach self-actualization while empowering him. The social worker in using the Narrative approach should aim to change the individual’s story, does not see the problem as a problem saturated story and aims to allow the individual tell the story. In relation to the case study: The social workers aim is to listen to Mr. Collins story, deconstruct the story, and encourage him to reconstruct the story while he explores a way forward on how he would deal and manage situations in such circumstances, considering he has mild learning disabilities. The social worker has to listen to the story and be able to identify what the individual perceives as the current problem, with the aim of understanding and identifying the meaning and impact of the problem on the individual (Kelley, 1996). The principles of narrative theory also propose that the individuals feel there story has been heard when the problem and its effect has been discussed. This makes the individual have an idea of when the problem first started. The narrative approach has three stages which the social worker must follow to achieve a positive outcome while working with a client.

The first is engagement and rapport stage. The stage involves the social worker and the client, at this stage the social worker has to show empathy to the client, also work together with the client while creating room for trust and loyalty. This will make the client comfortable to share his story or the problem with the social worker. Without this stage the social worker cannot progress any further. At this stage the client is eager to begin to fight the problem.

The next stage is the deconstruction stage. At this stage, the social worker views the problem from a different angle and perspective, doing so will identify any gaps or inconsistencies in the story. This encourages the individual to see himself differently from the problem. The questions which the social worker asks at this stage will be in the form of nouns rather than adjectives which people use to describe themselves. At this stage the individual is the one rewriting the story. According to Kelley (1996) a social worker who adopts the theory takes a “not-knowing” role.

Key concepts of narrative approach theory

According to Walsh (2010), People’s lives are shaped by their stories and their stories are shaped by their lives. This is a key concept of narrative theory. The person is not the problem but the problem is the problem. The concepts propose that a distinction should be drawn between the individual and the problem and not to conjoin both the individual and the problem. The social worker has to bear this in mind when working with the narrative theory. Narrative theory suggests that a person is in a “being” process rather than something continuous hence a new sense of self can be created out of stories that empower. In relation to Mr. Collins, it will shape his mind, new him and give him an opportunity to understand himself better and know how to deal more with people bearing in mind he has his own limitations on what he can take up which is linked to his mild learning disabilities. In practice, the practitioner is going to adopt the process of personal narrative which would be used together with the selective perception. If Mr. Collins has a negative narrative, with the help of the social worker, he would begin to deconstruct the negative stories/ experience. After this, a new story can be constructed which will reduce the current risk of social isolation on him. This is because he is resistant to associate nor access facilities within the community anymore, has a positive perspective of dealing with people as well as trusting people which is a current need that will lead to Mr. Collins being depressed if not tackled promptly.

Principles of the solution focused therapy

Solution focused therapy also known as the solution brief therapy. The therapy focuses on the future, its driven towards a goal and focuses on the solutions and possible interventions to the problem rather than the problem. It pays less attention to the problem (Gehart, 2009). Problems are seen as happening between people rather than within. The goal requires the social worker to focus on the attempted solutions. The underlying philosophy is that the clients want to change, there is no such thing as resistance as the individual is telling you how much they want to cooperate, it focuses on present and future but only focuses on the past on very rare exceptional circumstances, it changes the way people talk about their problems. In relation to the case study: it would focus on what Geoff wants to achieve, effects of excessive drinking and substance misuse would be discussed with Geoff, the impact of his current situation on his daily life and family will be explored. The social worker would listen to Geoff and ensure he has some skills to help achieve a solution to his current problem. The discussion with Geoff will aim at empowering and achieving his proposed solutions to the current problem. The social workers role during the therapy sessions with Geoff is to help him identify the change that is happening, help him to see the impact of that change and also help him increase the level of that change. In the case of Geoff the change would be to reduce his level of alcohol consumption and restore him back to his baseline which would include getting a job, paying off his rent. The social worker in using this approach is not interested in what caused the problem for Geoff to go into rent arrears or the reason for separation from his wife or his sudden alcohol misuse and mental health state. The social worker is interested in achieving a positive outcome irrespective of what caused the problem or who caused the problem.

Key concepts of solution focused therapy

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The SFBT focuses on finding solutions. It also adopts the use of coping questions, scaling questions and miracle question techniques. These techniques are used as a guide by the social worker in achieving a positive outcome while working with a client. Emphasis is laid on the use of language, the chosen language should be positive and encouraging. The problem of the client is now playing a lesser part in the interviewing process. Hough, 2006, every individual is unique and appears to know their problems and solution to the problems better than anyone else.

Reason why narrative and solution focused theory was chosen to work with Geoff

Narrative approach theory adopts the no blame approach. This means the individual will not be blamed for his current problems. This is the major reason why this approach will be adopted to work with Geoff. In using the Narrative approach, Geoff will not be blamed for his separation from the wife, for not having children with the wife, for being abusive to the staff at the care home or for excessive alcohol misuse. Doing so would have a negative impact on him. Adopting the narrative approach would not see him as the problem but it would focus on the story and work with Geoff to re-author the story. It creates room for the anti-oppressive and anti-discriminatory practice. The approach promotes a respectful and collaborative approach to work with Geoff to achieve a better and positive outcome that would affect his life. This will be done in line with assessment and planning procedures. In using this approach, Geoff will be empowered. This will ensure the social worker is practicing in an anti-oppressive way because Geoff’s strengths are being explored and built upon rather than focusing on his problems. Solution-focused brief therapy (SFBT) is based upon a social constructionist philosophy and has attributes that make it attractive for use with people in all backgrounds. In adopting the use of the solution focused therapy, the social worker would continue to develop and learn more of what works for Mr. Collins by moving towards achieving a positive outcome in working with him. Adopting the SFBT approach means it is possible to solve Geoff current issues without specifying the problem to be solved as this would hinder outcomes to be achieved if problems are specified. Considering SFBT is used for individual therapy, suits individuals from all backgrounds and lays emphasis on finding solutions to challenges. This will be used in working with Geoff because irrespective of his British background, there is a possibility for a positive change and will address his current challenges which Geoff is already aware of. This will include the fact that he is at risk of being banned from seeing his mum as a result of his abusive nature to staff and alcohol misuse.

Strengths of the theories in relation to strengths of geoff as in the case study

The narrative approach makes the individual an expert in his case. It gives credence to his opinions. The individual is the only one who can deconstruct his story by first understanding the effect the story has on him, his environment and his relationship. This is a major strength as the social workers is not authoritative, but rather helps the social worker to be objective with regards the problem. The social worker identifies the strengths of the individual by actively listening to his story with the aim of helping him to eternalize and re author the story. The SFBT is of the view that people who seek therapy are better off than people who do not. This is a major advantage of the SFBT, it puts into consideration how people view their lives in relation to their environment, culture and society and also the role the environment has to play on their problem. SFBT draws strength under the assumption, that the individual who this therapy is used with must have some insight as to what the problem is, how and what to do to make his life better. In relation to Geoff, his strengths are traceable to the fact that he is able to rent privately after his separation, thou he went into rent arrears after the loss of his job. He visits the mum at the care home twice a week and arrives at appropriate times irrespective of his alcohol misuse, he remembers to visit his mum. His strength could also be seen in his actions when he was asked to leave the home by the staff when he arrived smelling of alcohol. Significant people in Geoff life as well as the case study who would support and help the social worker when adopting the use of these theories in assessing Geoff would be the mum. This will depend on her current mental or health situation, as she is in a care home and her state of health is not known. The positive and negative effects of getting his mum involved in the assessment will be explored. The Wife will also be considered during the therapy sessions but Geoff has to be I agreement to this as he is assumed to be an expert in his own problem when viewed from the narrative approach angle and he is assumed to have some skills and idea on how to change his current situation when viewed from the SFBT angle.

Similarities of both theories in working with Mr. Collins

Solution Focused and Narrative approach complement each other in terms of giving the expertise and credence to the client. It does not label or make the problem an issue while working with the client Firstly, both theories are of the proposition that the social worker has to develop and maintain a supportive relationship with Geoff. They both believe in empowering the client and in actively listening to the client stories and problems. In adopting the use of the both theory, the social worker does not need to know what the cause of the problem is and does not buttress on points from the past or the problems. In adopting the theories, the social worker allows Geoff to identify what the problem is, share his experience of the problem and story, what impact he thinks the problem has had on him and what solutions he thinks will work with the problem. Both approaches are person centered. A Solution Focused therapist when operating in certain context would need the narrative therapy approach to achieve a positive outcome with their clients. They also propose the individual or client begins the process of identifying exceptions, possibilities, and possible solutions. In this case study Geoff would explore the options he has so he won’t be banned from seeing his mum. How to stop his current excessive drinking so he can be assessed by the mental health team and also the substance misuse services. The social worker would work with Geoff to reduce the risk of depression and social isolation and also to reduce the risk of his mental health deteriorating. Both compliment progress and solutions, as well as respectful communication exchanges between the parties involved.

Current risk and needs of Geoff as in the case study

Geoff needs support to pay his rent as he is currently in rent arrears, needs support and counseling to stop his current alcohol misuse. He is at risk of being banned from visiting the home if he does not stop his excessive alcohol consumption because he poses a risk to the mum, staff and other resident in the home. The social worker in adopting these theories would support Geoff to find a new job but this will depend on if Geoff sees this as a problem or part of his story and is willing to secure a new job. Geoff is at risk of depression, social exclusion, health deterioration, risk of family breakdown, social network breakdown and a break down in relationship with all networks. He is also at risk of losing his current tenancy as he is in rent arrears. From the case study it appears Geoff is depressed and feels the on option is for him to drink excessively. This has in turn had a negative turnout on him both at work and the care home. For the social worker to practice in an anti-oppressive way while adopting the use of both narrative and solution focused therapy, it will acknowledge the inequalities that exists in the society irrespective of the form they exist in. It is important to understand Geoff within his social, cultural, political and economic structures and not discriminate against him. With the help and support of the social worker, he would need counseling, advice and therapy to avoid further breakdown and minimize the risks identified above.


Adopting the narrative and solution focused approach would be seen to help motivate, encourage and find solutions to Geoff’s currents needs, address the risks identified above and reduce further deterioration on himself and impact. It also goes further to evaluate the problem by using the active listening skill to ensure Geoff is well empowered and the assessment and intervention process is done in collaboration with the Geoff. The major aim being to achieve a positive outcome in Geoff’s life. It is seen that adopting the use of these two theories in working with Geoff will get him engaged in the change process, explore his strengths while making him an expert in dealing with the problem or story. These should be in line with the laid down principles and guidance of social work practices as well as the key principles that guide the chosen theories.

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