November 16, 2009

Problem externalisation interventions

Externalizing  is a practice which was developed within narrative therapy (White, 1989). It is an intervention  that creates a perspective on reality in which the person has a relationship to the problem and in which the person is not the problem and the problem is not inside the person. In these latter cases, the problem is internalized. Internalizing problems creates a perspective in which people easily start to blame themselves and feel they have to take action against themselves.  Externalizing views problems as coming from outside the person – e.g. in relationships with others, with cultures, with institutions or with power relationships. Externalizing invites people to keep the problem outside the person 5 so that he does not have to fight himself. Here are some examples of internalizing questions and of externalizing questions:

Internalizing questions
Externalizing questions
·       How long have you been so worried? 
·       How did you get to be so anxious? 
·       Why do you think you’re such a worrier? 
·       Does being anxious run in your family? 
·       How many people know you’re a worrier? 
·       What does being so anxious tell you about the kind of person you really are deep down? 

·       When did anxiety first try and interfere with your life? 
·       What has happened that might have made you vulnerable to the influence of worry? 
·       What does worry try to get you to believe about yourself? 
·       What does worry want you to believe about other people? 
·       Are there tricks or tactics that anxiety uses to try and influence you? 
·       In which situations is anxiety most likely to try and take over? 


  1. Thanks for posting Coert. I particularly like the juxtaposition you posted on the chart.

  2. Hi Coert,

    Is externalisation the same as personification in literature?



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