Encyclopedia of Couple and Family Therapy

2019 Edition
| Editors: Jay L. Lebow, Anthony L. Chambers, Douglas C. Breunlin

Problem-Saturated Stories in Narrative Couple and Family Therapy

  • David DrustrupEmail author
  • Donna Rosana Baptiste
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-49425-8_220

Name of Concept

Problem-saturated stories


Problem stories


In narrative therapy, a foundational tenet is that people naturally tell stories about their lives and experiences. These personal stories or narratives reveal how people understand and relate to themselves, their family members, social contexts, and the world. Unsurprisingly, when clients enter therapy, their personal narratives are dominated by themes of resentments and negative thoughts or emotions. For example, couples or families might emphasize recurring fights, unmet needs, and overwhelmed feelings. Such concerns frame how clients view the future, and often many feel hopeless about changing things (White and Epston 1990).

Narrative approaches to couple and family therapy often begin where clients begin, with storylines dominated by problems and concerns. Therapists enter problem-saturated conversations with compassion and with the goal of helping clients to uncover empowering themes buried in their...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Bubenzer, D., West, J., & Boughner, S. (1994). Michael White and the narrative perspective in therapy. The Family Journal, 2(1), 71–83.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Foucault, M. (1980). Two lectures. In C. Gordon (Ed.), Power/knowledge: Selected interviews and other writings 1972–1977 (pp. 78–108). New York: Harvester Wheatsheaf.Google Scholar
  3. Guilfoyle, M. (2012). Towards a grounding of the agentive subject in narrative therapy. Theory & Psychology, 22(5), 626–642.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Walsh, W., & Keenan, R. (1997). Narrative family therapy. Family Journal: Counseling and Therapy for Couples and Families, 5(4), 332–336.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. White, M., & Epston, D. (1990). Narrative means to therapeutic ends. New York: Norton.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of IowaIowa CityUSA
  2. 2.The Family Institute at Northwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Margarita Tarragona
    • 1
  1. 1.PositivaMente & Grupo Campos ElíseosMexico CityMexico