Two marriage and family therapy graduate students are going forth and setting the world on fire by way of practicing an unconventional form of therapy: narrative therapy.
After learning about it in class, students Anthony Riske and Jenna Smith both felt drawn to therapy that uses storytelling as a platform to explore their clients’ realities.
“The clients themselves are the experts of their own experiences. The therapist is the co-investigator,” Riske said. “The notion is that the client knows the problem better than anyone else and they have the resources to overcome it better than everyone else does.”
Riske and Smith realized their worldviews and values align with this type of therapy, which was developed in the 1980s. The intent is not to strictly find answers, but explore. Clients aren’t reduced to a diagnosis.
“With storytelling, there is breadth and journey, not going from point A to point B,” Smith said. Because of the storytelling aspect of this form of therapy, it is successful across all cultures.
Riske and Smith teamed up with other students and found it natural to join efforts and build a presence at Regis. Under the guidance of Division of Counseling and Family Therapy Professor Steve Bennett, they formed the Narrative Therapy and Post-modern Psychology group. The group gives them and other graduate students a way to practice and not simply learn it in the classroom. The group has grown to about 40 graduate student members, with about 18 regularly attending the monthly meetings.
“Narrative therapy has a lot of appreciation for the Jesuit values,” Riske said. “Especially the Jesuit value of social justice and the idea of bringing a myriad of voices into the conversation.”
They said it speaks to caring for the individual person and acknowledging that minds and soul make a person whole.
“After graduation, my hope is to expand a person’s story into the world,” Riske said.
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