The Art of Narrative Psychiatry: Stories of Strength and Meaning [NOOK Book]


Narrative psychiatry empowers patients to shape their lives through story. Rather than focusing only on finding the source of the problem, in this collaborative clinical approach psychiatrists also help patients diagnose and develop their sources of strength. By encouraging the patient to explore their personal narrative through questioning and story-telling, the clinician helps the patient participate in and discover the ways in which they construct meaning, how they view themselves, what their values are, and ...
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The Art of Narrative Psychiatry: Stories of Strength and Meaning

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Narrative psychiatry empowers patients to shape their lives through story. Rather than focusing only on finding the source of the problem, in this collaborative clinical approach psychiatrists also help patients diagnose and develop their sources of strength. By encouraging the patient to explore their personal narrative through questioning and story-telling, the clinician helps the patient participate in and discover the ways in which they construct meaning, how they view themselves, what their values are, and who it is exactly that they want to be. These revelations in turn inform clinical decision-making about what it is that ails them, how they'd like to treat it, and what recovery might look like.
The Art of Narrative Psychiatry is the first comprehensive description of narrative psychiatry in action. Engaging and accessible, it demonstrates how to help patients cultivate their personal sources of strength and meaning as resources for recovery. Illustrated with vivid case reports and in-depth accounts of therapeutic conversations, the book offers psychiatrists and psychotherapists detailed guidance in the theory and practice of this collaborative approach. Drawing inspiration from narrative therapy, post-modern philosophy, humanistic medicine, and social justice movements - and replete with ways to more fully manifest the intentions of the mental health recovery model - this engaging new book shows how to draw on the standard psychiatric toolbox while also maintaining focus on the patient's vision of the world and illuminating their skills and strengths. Written by a pioneer in the field, The Art of Narrative Psychiatry describes a breadth of nuanced, powerful narrative practices, including externalizing problems, listening for what is absent but implicit, facilitating re-authoring conversations, fostering communities of support, and creating therapeutic documents.
The Art of Narrative Psychiatry addresses mental health challenges that range from mild to severe, including anxiety, depression, despair, anorexia/bulimia, perfectionism, OCD, trauma, psychosis, and loss. True to form, the author narrates her own experience throughout, sharing her internal thoughts and decision-making processes as she listens to patients. The Art of Narrative Psychiatry is necessary reading for any professional seeking to empower their patients and become a better, more compassionate clinician.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The Art of Narrative Psychiatry is graceful and eminently practical. Hamkins reveals through clinical tales how she has translated narrative therapy from its sources in Family Therapy, Counseling and Social Work in to mainstream psychiatry. Her gracious practice inheres in these stories and comes alive both in the reading of them and her commentaries. This book returns to the historical concerns of psychiatry in regard to the human soul and as such provides a professional niche for those who wish to engage in such concerns rather than merely prescribe."
— David Epston, co-director, the Family Therapy Centre, Auckland, New Zealand and co-author of Narrative Means to Therapeutic Ends and Biting the Hand that Starves You: Inspiring Resistance to Anorexia/Bulimia

"Dr Hamkins is a wise and empathic clinician who deeply understands how the stories people tell about themselves not only describe their lives - but also shape them. The Art of Narrative Psychiatry is an elegantly written and vital new book, which weaves insightful clinical examples with practical guidance, and ultimately shows how understanding the power of stories can lead to an energizing and creative collaboration with patients."
— Bradley Lewis, MD, PhD, Gallatin School of Individualized Study, New York University, NY and author of Narrative Psychiatry: How Stories Can Shape Clinical Practice

"Dr. SuEllen Hamkins offers a fresh alternative to psychiatrists who wish to re-invigorate their commitment to alleviating suffering in their patients. By applying principles and practices of narrative therapy to psychiatry, Dr. Hamkins describes - and then beautifully illustrates- how psychiatrists can carefully attend to the critical problems facing their patients, while simultaneously engaging with their stories of sustenance, intentionality and meaning-making. I urge you to read this groundbreaking book if you believe in psychotropic medication as a compelling option, yet yearn to move beyond a hyper-focus on neurochemistry and diagnostic categorization."
— Peggy Sax, PhD Founder,, Middlebury, VT

"With this highly anticipated book SuEllen Hamkins provides a compelling account of narrative psychiatry. In drawing on the work of White and Epston's Narrative Therapy and bringing in the role of human biology she builds a bridge between everyday psychiatry and post-modern practices. This hopeful work provides an antidote to the current hyper focus on neurochemistry and diagnostic categories. I highly recommend this book which rigorously details the skills of therapeutic work based on compassionate connection and engagement with life enriching stories of strength, capacity and meaning in the face of severe psychiatric challenges."
— Shona Russell, Co-Director , Narrative Practices Adelaide, South Australia

"The author is excellent at promoting narrative psychiatry. ... This is a quality, captivating book that is useful for psychiatry." —Doody's Health Sciences Review

Doody's Review Service
Reviewer: Valerie E Mathis-Allen, MD (Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services)
Description: This book promotes positive patient narratives that encourage patients to describe and discuss their values and strengths. This innovative and collaborative treatment relationship with patients focuses on discovering stories of strengths and meaning while disqualifying damaging narratives.
Purpose: The purpose is to offer new tools in psychiatry for healing. The author states the book is intended as an introduction to core narrative concepts, but is not an exhaustive treatment of the technique.
Audience: The audience includes any practitioners interested in learning narrative psychiatry.
Features: After an overview of narrative psychiatry, the book focuses on its core elements. A unique element is the inclusion of conversations with patients to demonstrate the process of narrative psychiatry. What is best about the book are the case examples, conversations with patients, and key points. Each chapter ends with notes, i.e., references. The author is excellent at promoting narrative psychiatry. The book encourages practitioners in a compassionate and supportive way to focus on listening for and validating the patient's successes and strengths in dealing with adversity and problems rather than just focusing on problems. The author notes that what narrative psychiatry needs to move forward is more narrative practitioners and research to establish a stronger empirical foundation. The shortcomings of the book is the lack of discussion about how to best proceed.
Assessment: This is a quality, captivating book that is very useful for psychiatry.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199982066
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 9/10/2013
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

SuEllen Hamkins, MD, is Assistant Director of the Center for Counseling and Psychological Health at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and Adjunct Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts.

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Table of Contents


Part I Foundations of Narrative Psychiatry
Chapter 1 What is Narrative Psychiatry?
Chapter 2 Connecting with Compassion: The Therapeutic Relationship
Chapter 3 Starting with Stories of Success: The Initial Psychiatric Consultation
Chapter 4 Unpacking the Problem: Understanding Symptoms and Suffering
Chapter 5 Cultivating Stories of Strength and Meaning: The Course of Treatment
Chapter 6 Collaborating in Considering Treatment Options: Medicine and Other Psychiatric Resources

Part II Narrative Psychiatry in Practice
Chapter 7 Finding Lost Stories of Love: Remembering Love and Legacy Amid Loss
Chapter 8 Finding Ones Voice: Recovering from Trauma
Chapter 9 Finding Happiness: Rising from Despair and Turning Away from Anxiety


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