Encyclopedia of Couple and Family Therapy

2019 Edition
| Editors: Jay L. Lebow, Anthony L. Chambers, Douglas C. Breunlin

Witnessing in Narrative Couple and Family Therapy

  • Laura F. Gutierrez DuarteEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-49425-8_224

Name of Concept

Witnessing in Narrative Couple and Family Therapy


Definitional ceremony


Witnessing is an intervention used in narrative couple and family therapy (White 2000). Therapists often scaffold witnessing into the process of therapy or use it in definitional ceremonies (White 2000). The metaphor of a definitional ceremony* provides a platform for clients to share their preferred narratives in the presence of an audience who listens and reflects back on the shared experiences (White 2000). Furthermore, witnessing allows for members of the family to conceptualize the problem as existing separate from each person (Freedman 2014). Externalization is another intervention of narrative therapy, which serves as a precursor to witnessing (Freedman 2014). The intent of externalization is to facilitate the deconstruction of the family’s problem-saturated narrative. Through witnessing, the couple or family is able to learn how to listen to each other’s experiences...

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.California School of Professional PsychologyAlliant International UniversityLos AngelesUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Margarita Tarragona
    • 1
  • Bahareh Sahebi
    • 2
  1. 1.PositivaMente & Grupo Campos ElíseosMexico CityMexico
  2. 2.The Family InstituteNorthwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA