The Narrative Approach

The Narrative Approach to art therapy aims to “help people externalize their problems to separate the individual from the problem” (Malchiodi, 88). This approach creates a safe place for a client or clients because it allows them to tell their story or trauma through art and/or collage without directly placing themselves in the story. One of the goals of the Narrative approach is to reframe their life to give it different and positive new meanings. They are able to do this because they can create a narrative using other people or animals to tell their story without feeling exposed. This approach focuses on more verbal means such as storytelling and using images to communicate problems and resolutions. 

In a therapy session, art therapists can have clients make a collage of the current problem. This is very helpful for clients because their problems suddenly are in front of them and they can see them. Collages, painting, and drawing of the problem are very important in family therapy because they show how each person views what the problem is. When the family can understand where each of its members stand on an issue, the art therapist can then work with them to create solutions. There are many different populations who benefit from the Narrative Approach, namely those suffering from mood disorders, bipolar disorders, those who abuse drugs and/or alcohol, children of addicts, and is great for family therapy. Unfortunately, this is considered a new art therapy approach, so there is little scientific research involving the Narrative Approach and its impact on clients. 


Malchiodi, C. A. (2012).  chapter 7. In Handbook of Art Therapy (pp. 82-91). essay, Guilford Press

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