Changing Ones’ Narrative
Purpose: A primary barrier to recovery, (specifically: seeking help, developing a hopeful sense of direction, acclimating to the community, personal agency and developing a positive sense of self) is self-stigma. Self-stigma is an onerous weight people with mental health and/or substance abuse challenges carry. It’s the corrosive negative self-talk they live with everyday. This self-talk, or life narrative, must be addressed to positively impact outcomes for facilities working to support people in addressing these challenges. Shifting to a heroic narrative which places one’s challenges and short-comings into the broader context of overcoming a severe and life-threatening ‘illness’ is an effective method of alleviating this pressure. Shifting away from a negative life narrative is intended to reduce learned helplessness and positively impact motivation.
Method: This approach to addressing self-stigma involves changing one’s perspective. To support someone in seeing themselves in a new light, it’s important that providers can hold this space and reflect it in their engagement with clients. To facilitate this a staff training for, at least, those facilitating the Heroic Narratives group should be provided both in understanding the perspective of the heroic narrative and in facilitating the group. A manual for group facilitation is provided.
Training for Providers: Build understanding of the impact of life narrative among providers:
Provide article The Reconstruction of Narrative Identity During Mental Health Recovery: A Complex Adaptive Systems Perspective
All consumers deserve a heroic narrative
Each provider has a narrative... we all have narratives. We tell ourselves a story about ourselves which we use as a source of motivation and a construct from which we can make decisions.
Awareness of one's own narrative and it's value and subjectivity prepares the provider to work with another individual's personal narrative.
Stigma, diagnoses, personal experiences often lead to a negative personal narrative, learned helplessness and reduced motivation.
Shifting attention away from 'failures' and highlighting immensity of strength required to live w/ “Mental Illness.”
The psychological 'baggage' inherent in the term 'mental illness' makes it problematic. The phrase fosters an impression of powerlessness. Therefore it is essential that provider's understand that it is in the interest of the individual's health that they no longer see themselves as being 'mentally ill'.
Trauma-centric language can reduce this sense of powerlessness and provide an etiology or causal construction for the symptoms presented.
Helping consumers reconstruct their Identity Narrative is good for:
rebuild self esteem
accept ‘illness’ (life challenges)
no longer indicates they are 'less than'
people w/ good recovery are proud of their stories
Contact me for more information on implementing this program at your facility. Full curriculum and coaching on implementation available.