How Can I Integrate Narrative Into My Counseling?

The Power of Narrative


God is a storyteller. As His image bearers, human beings are drawn to narratives, especially those that surface themes of redemption and renewal, which are central to the Christian story. Because of this, narrative can play a powerful role in counseling others. Looking back on his struggles in college, Winston Smith, counselor and faculty member at the Christian Counseling and Education Foundation (CCEF), reflects on the ways in which God used The Chronicles of Narnia to meet him in his anxiety and depression. He also shares practical advice on how to utilize narratives for counseling in a fresh manner.

Winston has served as a counselor for more than fifteen years and holds a Master of Divinity Degree from Westminster Theological Seminary. Winston is the author of Marriage Matters: Extraordinary Change Through Ordinary Moments as well as several mini-books: Divorce RecoveryHelp for StepfamiliesIt's All About Me—The Problem with MasturbationWho Does the Dishes? and Help! My Spouse Committed Adultery



Throughout our lives, God often meets us in surprising ways. For Winston, it came in a season of anxiety and depression by way of The Chronicles of Narnia. God used a story to stir his heart and call him to remember truths he had forgotten.

Did this discussion provide you with any new insights into counseling others effectively? If so, how? What will change about your interactions with people?
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What are some of the surprising resources God has used to help you? In what ways did they have a positive impact on your life? What did He teach you through them?
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Have you been able to use any of those resources to help others who have experienced similar struggles? If not, what has kept you from doing so?
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Specifically, Winston focused in on narrative as a powerful platform for teaching truth. It transports us from the ordinary and places us where we can hear in a fresh manner. As he shared, though The Chronicles of Narnia did not solve his anxiety and depression, the books drew him to identify personally with a character and provided him with direction moving forward. 

In your experience, what stories have been the most meaningful? Why were they so significant to you? How did they capture your experience? How did they speak to you in a personal way?
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To utilize narrative well, Winston encouraged an active effort to draw out principles for practical application. Thinking back on those stories that have most impacted you, what principles did they teach? What were the major themes? How did they provide direction in your life?
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Taking it a step further, Winston talked about considering the ways in which God may be speaking through a particular narrative. In your own experience, how did narratives help you to see the work of God in your life? What did they teach you about Him? About Scripture? How did they help you understand your experience in light of how God makes sense of our stories?
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As a way of expanding your "library," Winston suggested asking others to share those narratives that have been helpful to them. Who are some people you could reach out to in order to ask their stories? How will you work towards accomplish this in the coming week?
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Having identified the narratives God has used in your life, what are some ways you could integrate them into your counseling? What benefit could it have on your clients? What steps will you take towards utilizing narrative in the days ahead?
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Narrative has a powerful ability to capture our experiences and speak to us in surprisingly personal ways. As you consider the stories God has used to work in your life, look for ways to utilize them as resources in your own practice. Connect the gift of narrative with the truth of God's word as a way of drawing people further into the beauty of Christ's work and the hope of His gospel.


 This video is a publication of the Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation (CCEF). All content is protected by copyright and may not be reproduced in any manner without written permission from CCEF. For more information on classes, materials, speaking events, distance education and other services, please visit www.ccef.org.