Narrative exposure therapy
What is Narrative Exposure Therapy?
Narrative exposure therapy (NET) is an evidence-based treatment approach for people exposed to repeated and persistent trauma. It was developed by the aid organization VIVO and is initially best documented for work with refugees and asylum seekers, but has also been shown to be effective with other patient groups with complex trauma (Robjant & Fazel, 2010; Lely et al., 2019). The method is a standardized short-term approach that combines elements from Prolonged Exposure Therapy and testimony therapy.
Treating trauma with narrative exposure therapy
The treatment is based on the premise of helping the client integrate traumatic events into a holistic life story and that one gains a new confidence in one's own strengths and resources. In the wake of traumatic events, one may experience that the memory is fragmented and that one wants to avoid internal and external experiences that remind one of the trauma. NET aims to help the client process the trauma memories by telling their story and going into the unpleasant thoughts, feelings and sensations linked to the trauma memories.
A new lifeline: from fragments to wholeness
This is done by placing a life line at the start of the treatment where stones represent bad life experiences and flowers positive life experiences. The course of therapy involves the client sharing his life story while it is recorded on tape. When the client tells about a traumatic event, the therapist helps the client process the memory. Each subsequent session begins with the story being read to the patient as exposure, and the client being given the opportunity to correct any mistakes. At the end of treatment, the complete life history is handed over to the patient.
Robjant, Katy, and Mina Fazel. "The emerging evidence for narrative exposure therapy: A review." Clinical psychology review 30.8 (2010): 1030-1039.
Lely, JC, Smid, GE, Jongedijk, RA, W. Knipscheer, J., & Kleber, RJ (2019). The effectiveness of narrative exposure therapy: A review, meta-analysis and meta-regression analysis. European journal of psychotraumatology, 10(1), 1550344.