Families who unilaterally discontinue narrative therapy: Their story, a qualitative study
Hoper, John Honett
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The research objective of this study was to understand the therapeutic and termination processes of clients who unilaterally terminate narrative family therapy from the client's perspective. An additional objective was to understand the strengths and weaknesses of narrative therapy. To address these issues, a qualitative research design was utilized, and a combination of telephone and face-to-face interviews was conducted. Overall, the research results agreed with reported literature on termination and effective therapeutic processes. Typically, respondents gave more than one reason for termination. Approximately one-third terminated due to external, environmental factors, such as scheduling difficulties. The remaining respondents terminated due to factors associated with therapy, including expectations as to how therapy should be conducted and therapeutic outcome. Overall, the respondents were pleased with their experience, and a significant portion terminated due to improvements in their situation. Two distinct classes of respondents who terminated due to therapeutic reasons were found, those helped by therapy and those not helped. The helped respondents saw their problems as more related to family functioning, and had more realistic therapeutic expectations. In contrast, those not helped attributed more of their problems to the children, had less realistic expectations, wanted more advice from an expert therapist, and were more defeated by reversions to old behaviors. From the research results, a comprehensive, process-oriented model for termination was developed, based on client, agency, therapeutic, and outcome factors. The model is believed to be applicable across theoretical orientations. Overall, the respondents found narrative therapy techniques and the way they were used to be therapeutic. There were drawbacks with a minority of respondents. In general, they wanted more guidance and solutions, as well as more therapist alignment with the parents versus with the children. Also, some multicultural counseling difficulties were encountered, where a different approach would have been more effective. In summary, most respondents found narrative therapy to be effective for them; they were pleased with their therapists, the therapy that they received, and their therapeutic progress.