Absent But Implicit in Narrative Couple and Family Therapy
In narrative therapy, “Absent But Implicit” refers both to an understanding regarding how people ascribe meaning to experiences (values, hopes, beliefs, purposes) and to a practice of seeking entry points toward developing preferred stories.
Every expression can be considered to be founded upon its contrast, which I refer to as the ‘Absent But implicit.’ (White 2005)
Inspired by Derrida (1978), White (2000) suggested that people ascribe meanings to experiences in relation to other experiences, by contrasting them with other experiences, by what they are and by what they are not.
He described how it can be useful in therapeutic conversations to listen for values, hopes, and purposes that, while absent from the problem story, may be implied by it, as the backdrop on which the explicit problems are given meaning.
Using what White calls “double listening,” in addition to listening for explicit “unique outcomes,” the therapist also listens for unmentioned values, beliefs, and intentions that...
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- Freedman, J., & Combs, G. (2008). In A. S. Gurman (Ed.), Clinical handbook of couple therapy. New York: The Guilford Press. Chap. 8.Google Scholar
- White, M. (2000). Re-engaging with history: The absent but implicit (chapter 3). In M. White (Ed.), Reflections on narrative practice: Essays & interviews (pp. 35–58). Adelaide: Dulwich Centre Publications.Google Scholar
- White, M. (2005). The International Journal of Narrative Therapy and Community Work, 3&4, 15.Google Scholar