Narrative therapy is a postmodern psychological treatment which has received extensive attention. It is a method of therapy that separates the person from the problem. Through the method of “telling stories”, “externalizing problems” and, “thick and thin descriptions”, it encourages people to rely on their own skills. Through narrative therapy, the clients can realize mental growth and the consultants can readjust and reflect on their roles. Narrative therapy is a widely used modern psychological treatment technology which is easily operated, has significant effects and should be promoted widely.
During narrative therapy, consultants use the appropriate methods to help clients find missing segments and motivate them to change their internal strength. Narrative therapy uses story characteristics of human behavior and solves the complex emotional problems through making up and listening to others’ stories. Narrative therapy was developed by therapists Michael White in Australia and David Epston in New Zealand. Narrative has an irreplaceable role in the psychological research. First of all, narrative can be used as an important means of obtaining inside information. As a supplement to data, narrative information can reveal the general rule or the unique meaning though in-depth analysis of a specific case. Secondly, the narrative can also be used as a means of intervention in the research. The narrative is always correlated with reflection. When they are telling the story, people also reflect on themselves. Reflection or examination is an endogenous intervention during which process people control themselves and become responsible for their lives. Narrative therapy separates the people from the problems. It is people-oriented rather than moral-oriented. Narrative therapists believe that clients are their own experts and consultants only accompany them. Clients should be confident. They should believe that they are capable and can solve their own difficulties, clearly. As a method applied to most people who can accept psychological counseling, narrative therapy is one of the important psychological counseling methods.
In recent years, with the in-depth psychological treatment of cult victims, narrative therapy has been increasingly used in assistance and education. Through relaxed chatting, clients recall their adolescence, childhood or even infant period. Then, consultants help them find some optimistic factors that are conducive to changing the clients’ mind and guide them from a humane perspective so as to lift them out of the shadow of the past and grow happily. From this psychological treatment, I came to know Ms. Qi, a practitioner of Falun Gong. Ms. Qi is 47 years old and does not seem to be a very selfish person. Instead, she is very kind and sincere. She was obsessed with Falun Gong and had been detained once. This time, she has been sentenced to prison. When I participated in her treatment, I talked with her for a long time. She could realize Falun Gong was selfish but she would not give it up because she thought that she had not reached a high enough level. Later, after learning about numerous facts and fallacies and absurdities of Li Hongzhi, she realized that Falun Gong was involved in politics and made up great lies. However, she would not give it up and believed that “completion” could be achieved. We asked her that as Li could be deceitful about other things, why could not he lie to you about “completion”? Then, we realized she just did not want to break her own daydream.
Our work temporarily fell into a dead-end. It seemed that we could not enter her soul by just eliminating the fallacies and absurdities, so we adopted narrative therapy. In a relaxed and harmonious conversation atmosphere, we talked with Ms. Qi about her husband and children. We found she had a happy family. Her husband loved her very much, her son was filial, and her relationship with mother-in-law was also harmonious. Her situation might be closely related to her own childhood and adolescence. In the conversation, we learned that Ms. Qi lost her father when she was 3 years old and was brought to her stepfather’s house after her mother remarried. The stepfather also had several children, but thanks to his good temper, the family got along well. Unfortunately, after a few years, the stepfather died from an infectious disease. Her mother had to take care of her and made a living by sewing. Finally, she grew up and married a good husband. Her mother felt as though it was a load off her mind. After she gave birth, her mother took care of her child and felt happy for her harmonious marriage life and the sounds of the growing child. Ms. Qi felt that her mother had suffered so many hardships and she should do something for her.
One day, when her child was three years old, her mother chatted with neighbors in the yard and unintentionally said that she wanted to buy a house for Qi but hadn’t saved enough money. The one who talks may not mean what they say, but the listener is serious. One of the neighbors had just been released on medical parole and thought out vicious ideas. One day, when Ms. Qi was on the night shift and her husband went out, that neighbor came to her house to blackmail her mother for money. Her mother refused and yelled. Under panic, the neighbor took a heavy stick and beat her mother to death. When other neighbors told Ms. Qi the bad news, she cried out and fainted.
After that, Qi’s mother's sudden death became the lasting grief for her. She could no longer express her filial devotion to her mother. She always remembered the hardships her mother suffered. How to show filial duty to her mother had become a lingering problem for her.
At that time, someone propagandized that Falun Gong could help people realize “completion” and send their loved ones to heaven. She was inspired with enthusiasm and thought: If so, she could realize the dream of performing filial duty. Practicing had become the best way for her to express filial devotion. She started to learn Falun Gong. Regardless of the problems which appeared in Falun Gong and the other people’s persuasion, she was determined to realize “completion”.
The root of the problem had been found, and we needed to use the positive factors in her story and re-construct a new story. We first affirmed her filial piety to her mother and said “filial piety is the foundation of all virtues”, which was worthy of praising. However, it was incorrect and impossible to depend on Falun Gong to perform filial duty, because Li’s “completion” was nothing but nonsense. Then, if her mother knew that she was imprisoned, would she be happy? We asked, “If your son had been sentenced for prison for the sake of filial piety, would you be happy?” Disciple Rules put it thus, “If you carelessly injure your body, your parents will worry and fret. When my body is hurt, my parents will be worried.” She responded, “Of course not.” We said, “Your mother was also reluctant to see you like this! Thirdly, you still have husband and son. Your mother certainly did not want you to pay no attention to them. As a mother, what is your best hope for your child? Isn’t it a happy reunion for your children? Your mother would be sad if she knew your family had been ruined.” She responded “Yes”. We said: “All the mothers want their children to live a happy life. If your mother knows, she will ask you to go home early, find a bride for your son, and grow old together with your husband.” She nodded her head. She pondered for a moment and said: “It has been 20 years since my mother’s death. I didn’t dare to face this problem and never talked about it with others. Now, I’m relieved.” Then, we asked her to tell some details and increase her courage. As she recalled the memories and told us of them, her psychological problems finally had been solved.
As for “completion”, she said: “I now finally understand. The reunion with my husband and son is the real ‘completion’. That is the real ‘completion’. The real ‘completion’ exists in my daily life.”
(Executive editor: YI Bing)