Narrative Psychiatry

Rather than focusing only on finding the source of the problem, narrative psychiatry focuses on finding sources of strength and meaning. The result is compassionate, powerful healing.


cropped-sprouting-seeds-narrative-psychiatry.jpgWhat is Narrative Psychiatry?

Narrative psychiatry empowers patients to shape their lives through story.  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.
This collaborative approach relishes discovering untold but inspiring stories of a person’s resiliency and skill in resisting mental health challenges while exposing and dismantling discourses that fuel problems. It examines what the doctor’s kit of psychiatry has to offer in light of the values and preferences of the person seeking consultation, authorizing the patient as the arbiter of what is helpful and what is not.
Cutting through current controversies in the field, narrative psychiatry brings the compassionate approaches of narrative medicine and narrative psychotherapy to the practice of psychiatry.




The Art of Narrative Therapy book cover w

The Art


Narrative Psychiatry

by SuEllen Hamkins

Graceful and eminently practical.
– David Epston

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.

An elegantly written and vital new book.
– Bradley Lewis

A fresh alternative for psychiatrists. . . . I urge you to read this groundbreaking book.
– Peggy Sax

From the back cover:

Illustrated with vivid case reports and in-depth accounts of therapeutic conversations, The Art of Narrative Psychiatry 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 book 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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We would be delighted if you would support your local, independent bookseller by ordering the book from him or her, or you can order the book here:

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(Click on Journal cover to order reprints of articles from the Narrative Therapy Library at Dulwich Centre Publications)


Introducing Narrative Psychiatry: Narrative approaches to initial psychiatric consultations.
Hamkins, SuEllen (2005)
The International Journal of Narrative Therapy and Community Work , No. 1.


Bringing Narrative Practices to Psychopharmacology.
Hamkins, SuEllen (2010).
The International Journal of Narrative Therapy and Community Work, No.1.