Experiential and Narrative Family Therapy Essay

Experiential and Narrative Family Therapy Essay

Working with families entails counselling, education, and coping skills since family members might have underlying issues or different psychiatric disorders. Therefore, it is crucial to apply specific family therapy to handle such problems and obtain positive outcomes. According to Varghese et al. (2020), family therapies are structured forms of psychotherapies that seek to minimize conflict and distress by enhancing interaction systems between family members. They are ideal counselling strategies for assisting family members in adjusting and being able to accommodate an immediate member struggling with medical issues, addiction, new information, and mental health diagnosis. Family therapy goals are solving family issues, enhancing communication between family members, establishing a better functioning home environment, and comprehending certain family situations. The two common family therapies are experiential and narrative. With this in mind, the essay compares experiential and narrative family therapies, summaries their key points, provides their strengths and weaknesses, and provides a description of a family that can use experiential family therapy. Experiential and Narrative Family Therapy Essay.

Experiential Family Therapy

            Experiential family therapy is a spontaneous approach that uses multisensory and active techniques. These methods, including drawings, guided imagery, expressive arts, props and role-plays, elevate the family’s expression of affection and uncover new or disturbing information. Experiential family therapy promotes playfulness and creativity, unlocks defences to facilitate individualisms and self-esteem, and tries to make the covert assumptions overt (Reiter, 2017). The therapy’s purpose is to eliminate an emotional deadness climate that might happen in families that lack flexibility in roles and expression of emotions. Engaging members of the family in this therapy creates ways of being part of the family and promotes the family’s functioning.


            Experiential family therapy exhibits strengths and weaknesses. The first strength is that it focuses on the present, and individuals can express their emotions on the present concerns or issues. The individuals have the time to share everything about their life experiences without fears. For this reason, the healing process is facilitated, and individuals can resolve their issues. Thus, individuals are more involved in solving their problems. Second, experiential family therapy helps family members to scrutinize their individual connections and start a self-awareness or self-discovery process on how their relationships impact their behaviours. Third, as the therapy helps individuals resolve past traumas. Conflicts, and buried emotions, they can learn problem-solving skills and focus on the activity rather than talk therapy. Lastly, experiential family therapy teaches individuals proactivity instead of reacting to difficult scenarios in negative methods. Family members gain precise comprehension of the impact of their choices on their life and others’. As a result, they start making better decisions and choices.

Experiential family therapy is also associated with a few weaknesses. Therapists or clinicians using this family therapy technique only focus on the family members’ experiences to emerge with the problem’s outcome. Experiential and Narrative Family Therapy Essay.  They do not have full control of the situation. Additionally, therapists using this technique push individuals to confront their issues and find answers without helping them.

Narrative Family Therapy

Narrative family therapy assumes that individuals organize their lives through stories. As clients attend to therapists, they often relate a telling of their lives through stories. Clients tell their stories by connecting together their comprehension of the issue, illness, or relationship through a series of life ideas and events. Thus, narrative family therapy is defined as a therapeutic style that assists individuals to become and embrace being an expert in their lives. In this family therapy, the emphasis is placed on the stories developed by clients throughout their lives. The therapy is based on specific principles, such as there is no objective reality, having a story can help individuals maintain and organize their reality, language facilitates reality, and reality is socially constructed (Suddeath et al., 2017). Narrative family therapy also involves methods that elicit stories to unite family members parting from their problems, externalize the problem from the family, and identify cultural discourse and its effect on family narratives.

Like any other family therapy, narrative family therapy has its strengths and weaknesses. The strengths of the family therapy include being a non-blaming, non-pathological, and non-judgmental approach to therapy as it separated the problem from the individual, regarding the client instead of the therapist, and focusing on the client’s skills, strengths, and knowledge. Also, narrative family therapy is an optimistic and playful approach that makes it appealing to clients. On the other hand, narrative family therapy lacks a substantial amount of scientific research upholding it as effective family therapy and is considered inappropriate for some clients. For instance, the therapy is not appropriate for psychotic individuals since they have limited intellectual, cognitive, or language skills.

Description of a Family that can Use Experiential Family Therapy

John and Mary are separated parents with three children, Jacob, Joe, and Joy. Joe is an adopted child and feels distant most of the times. Jacob and Joe are always worried and wonder whether their parents could reunite. For this reason, they display anger at both parties, experience depression, and have mood swings. The family has underlying issues that could ruin their relationships. Therefore, I believe that techniques in experiential family therapy could be significant in building their relationships. Experiential and Narrative Family Therapy Essay.


            Family therapies are psychotherapies essential in minimizing distress and conflicts by promoting interactions between family members. Family members can maintain a distance from each other during certain situations, such a member having mental health disorders, illnesses, in the occurrence of uncovered information, and when a member has medical issues. Seeking a family therapy could help solve the above issues, influence communication between members, and create a functioning home environment. Examples of family therapies are narrative and experiential family therapies. Experiential family therapies use role-plays, imagery, drawings, and expressive art to disclose emotions or issues that need to be solved. In contrast, narrative family therapy focuses on the client’s stories since individuals can organize their lives through stories.

John’s and Mary’s Family Genogram



Reiter, M. D. (2017). Experiential family therapies. Family Therapy, 167-179. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315110899-17

Suddeath, E. G., Kerwin, A. K., & Dugger, S. M. (2017). Narrative family therapy: Practical techniques for more effective work with couples and families. Journal of Mental Health Counseling39(2), 116-131. https://doi.org/10.17744/mehc.39.2.03

Varghese, M., Kirpekar, V., & Loganathan, S. (2020). Family interventions: Basic principles and techniques. Indian Journal of Psychiatry62(8), 192. https://doi.org/10.4103/psychiatry.indianjpsychiatry_770_19


Although experiential therapy and narrative therapy are both used in family therapy, these therapeutic approaches have many differences in theory and application. As you assess families and develop treatment plans, you must consider these differences and their potential impact on clients. For this Assignment, you compare Experiential and Narrative Family Therapy.


Compare experiential family therapy to narrative family therapy

Justify recommendations for family therapy



American Nurses Association. (2014). Psychiatric-mental health nursing: Scope and standards of practice (2nd ed.). Washington, DC: Author.

Standard 5B “Health Teaching and Health Promotion” (pages 55-56)

Cohn, A. S. (2014). Romeo and Julius: A narrative therapy intervention for sexual-minority couples. Journal of Family Psychotherapy, 25(1), 73-77. doi:10.1080/08975353.2014.881696


Escudero, V., Friedlander, M. L., Boogmans, E., & Loots, G. (2012). Alliance rupture and repair in conjoint family therapy: An exploratory study. Psychotherapy, 49(1), 26-37. doi:10.1037/a0026747


Freedman, J. (2014). Witnessing and positioning: Structuring narrative therapy with families and couples. Australian & New Zealand Journal of Family Therapy, 35(1), 20-30. doi:10.1002/anzf.1043


Nichols, M., & Davis, S. D. (2020). The essentials of family therapy (7th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.

Chapter 7, “Experiential Family Therapy” (pp. 105-118

Chapter 12, “Narrative Therapy” (pp. 189-201)

Phipps, W. D., & Vorster, C. (2011). Narrative therapy: A return to the intrapsychic perspective. Journal of Family Psychotherapy, 22(2), 128-147. doi:10.1080/08975353.2011.578036



Saltzman, W. R., Pynoos, R. S., Lester, P., Layne, C. M., & Beardslee, W. R. (2013). Enhancing family resilience through family narrative co-construction. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 16(3), 294-310.  doi:10.1007/s10567-013-0142-2


Wheeler, K. (Ed.). (2014). Psychotherapy for the advanced practice psychiatric nurse: A how-to guide for evidence-based practice. New York, NY: Springer.

“Genograms” pp. 137-142



Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy



Hernandez Family Transcript and Video File



In a 3-page paper, address the following:

  • Summarize the key points of both experiential family therapy and narrative family therapy.
  • Compare experiential family therapy to narrative family therapy, noting the strengths and weakness of each.
  • Provide a description of a family that you think experiential family therapy would be appropriate, explain why, and justify your response using the Learning Resources.  Experiential and Narrative Family Therapy Essay.

Include an introductory and conclusive paragraph.

Also include a Family Genogram as an additional page:

Develop a genogram for the client family you selected. The genogram should extend back at least three Experiential and Narrative Family Therapy Essay.