1st Edition

So You Want to Do Narrative Therapy? Letters to an Aspiring Narrative Therapist

By Sanni Paljakka, Tom Stone Carlson Copyright 2025
    234 Pages
    by Routledge

    234 Pages
    by Routledge

    So You Want to Do Narrative Therapy? is an engaging and accessible introduction to contemporary narrative therapy practice. Each of the ten chapters is written as a series of letters personally addressed to a real student who is learning how to do narrative therapy at a narrative therapy agency. Each letter highlights the most useful discoveries during the authors’ years of practicing in a narrative therapy agency, both as therapists and as supervisors. Each letter also contains transcripts from therapy sessions showing the principles and practices in action and ends with a therapeutic poem that was given to the client based on their own words from a therapy session. While written for narrative therapists at any level of experience, this book is especially useful for graduate-level theories courses in therapy training programs in counseling, psychology, social work, and family therapy.

    Letter 1. What’s so Narrative About Narrative therapy? A Letter About Stories and Story-Work

    Letter 2. What’s Riding Us? A Letter About the Master’s Narratives

    Letter 3. What’s Problematic About Calling It a Problem? A Letter About Dilemmas

    Letter 4. When Externalizing Internalizes: A Letter About Narrative Diagnoses

    Letter 5. Why Are You in Therapy? A Letter About Up Against Stories

    Letter 6. Whose Story Is It? A Letter About the Agentive Turn

    Letter 7. What Do You Want to Do, Love? A Letter About Counter Stories

    Letter 8. What if We Aren’t Angels? A Letter About Interesting Protagonists

    Letter 9. What Is Beautiful and What Is Ugly? A Letter About Moral Reading Prompts

    Letter 10. What Now? A Letter About Writing as an Antidote to Despair

    Epilogue: Dear Student


    Sanni Paljakka is a registered psychologist and codirector of the Calgary Narrative Collective, where she also serves as the director of clinical training where she supervises practicum students.

    Tom Stone Carlson, PhD, is a professor at Alliant International University in the Couple and Family Therapy Program.

    "In this book, the authors offer a truly unique journey into the world of narrative therapy. Through a series of letters from a supervisor to a student, this book provides an intimate and addressive approach to learning the art of narrative therapy. This book is not a manual but a new pedagogical practice that sits confidently within the lineage of narrative practice while moving it forward. So You Want To Do Narrative Therapy? is a beacon of hope for those seeking to embrace a more artful, story-based approach to therapy that counters the obstacles shaped by the influence of neoliberal ideologies, reminding us throughout that the therapy room can be a potent site of political activism and poetic expression. Ultimately, I found myself happy to have several of my own narrative therapy assumptions and notions challenged. Always a good sign.”

    Dr. Chris Hoff, host of The Radical Therapist podcast

    “This is the book I so desperately needed when I was first learning narrative therapy but could never seem to find. It is as accessible as it is beautiful. It will inspire both those new to narrative therapy and those who have been practicing for many years. The combination of letters, stories, transcripts, and poetry makes for such an immersive reading experience that I delayed finishing the book because I didn’t want it to end. I cannot wait to use this book in my own teaching and practice.”

    Dr. Travis Heath, chair of the Department of Counseling and School Psychology at San Diego State University