Many of the teens that come to us at Paradigm San Francisco are extremely talented, creative individuals. Many of them also enjoy writing and find it to be a way for them to process, express, and discover the different aspects of their current experience. Teen Written/Narrative Therapy is a therapeutic approach, in which teens engage in specific writing activities, in order to gain insights that are relevant to their current treatment.
Teen Written/Narrative Therapy is based on the idea that teens are the authors of their own lives and therefore, hold the answers, keys, strength, and ability to make their lives into whatever they want them to be. Therefore, by reflecting on their own lives from the given distance of being the “storyteller,” teens often find a sort of power and perspective which allows teens to feel more empowered to determine the “story” of their own lives. During Teen Written/Narrative therapy sessions, teens will write about different aspects of their “story,” including their thoughts, beliefs, and feelings, as well as behaviors and habits. Through this process, therapists will help teens to recognize things such as what kinds of habits and plot events are repeated, what kind of lies are told, and what sorts of tension, hurt, and/or betrayal certain relationships might hold. Essentially, the therapists will intentionally lead the teens to find ways to notice and understand what “stories” they are always telling.
By reflecting on their stories in this way, teens can begin to see themselves and their lives more clearly, including the crucial aspects of the story that create their identities. At the same time, therapists can also help teens to gain insight into how particular aspects of the teens’ mental health and/or substance abuse struggles are directly affecting their stories and/or negatively affecting their identities. Over time, the goal is for teens to gain insight and hope into the ways that they can begin to rewrite their stories, so that ultimately, in treatment, they can change them forever.
It’s important to note that the Teen Written/Narrative therapist plays an important role in allowing teens to both make these discoveries themselves, and also, ensure that the teens make the connections they need to. In this sense, it takes great skill and sensitivity for the Written/Narrative therapist to help guide the teens through this process, helping them to uncover struggles, behaviors, dreams, desires, villains, and love, within their current story. Our Teen Written/Narrative therapists are all licensed professionals and highly skilled in working with adolescents. Our Teen Written/Narrative therapists work in conjunction with the other members of teens’ treatment teams, so that all of the discoveries and forward steps teens take during these sessions can be followed up upon and used in the teens’ other treatment sessions. This is one example of our commitment at Paradigm San Francisco, to provide holistic adolescent mental health and substance abuse treatment, designed individually for each teen that comes here.