We interviewed Lucy Cotter (Licensed Marriage and Family Therapy Therapist #46671; narrativecounselingcenter.com) the co-founder of the Narrative Counseling Center in Los Angeles. 

Below you will discover Lucy’s thoughts on Narrative Couples Counseling.

Will you describe your practice as it relates to helping couples? 

I help couples create new stories of relationship and come together as a team against problems.

What is Narrative Therapy?

Narrative therapy uses the metaphor of story to look at how we organize and give meaning to our experiences. An important part of therapy is to reveal how our dominant stories are constructed, and to use therapeutic conversations to help clients re-author the stories of their lives.

Why is it an effective tool for married couples?

Narrative is a strength-based therapy that focuses on each couple’s resourcefulness. The process is supportive of each client’s hopes, knowledge, and individual and relational goals. Couples move from blame to connection and re-engage with their own values. While decreasing the power of problems, we are building shared intentions, collaboration and compassion.

How do you go about it?

On arriving in therapy, people often see problems as part of their relational identities. In Narrative Therapy, problems are seen as separate from the couple. A popular motto would be, “The couple is not the problem. The problem is the problem.” Through collaborative conversations, space is made to help couples join against problems and envision shared hopes for the future.

Narrative therapy looks at aspects of the client’s life that are exceptions to the influence of the “problem.” We assist in uncovering unique outcomes that have escaped the problem’s influence. The meaning of these exceptions is expanded, through questions and investigation. We talk about “thickening” a counter-plot to outgrown stories.

What drew you to Narrative Therapy?

My background is in art and critical theory. What I love most about narrative is that it is a creative, heart-led set of ideas that empower couples, individuals and families to respectfully discover new stories for their lives. I was also attracted to its emphasis on the use of curiosity.

Can online therapy be effective for couples who are unable to regularly attend sessions in your office?

Yes, I see a number of couples both in person and online who are California residents. It provides an alternative for people with limited time and mobility or distant locations.

What does it take to keep a long-term relationship or marriage moving towards a good place?

The ability to stay connected as a team while allowing change within their individual and shared stories. We each are changing all the time, as individuals, couples and families. To see each other with fresh eyes is a gift, while remembering what values are guides for the things that matter most.

How can people contact you?

My private practice is based in Los Angeles. I can be reached via e-mail or phone: narrativecouples@gmail.com or 323-549-5377.