This is the first of three chapters to explore difficulties in the use of constructionist and narrative ideas in family therapy. Here I will be focusing on the question of reality and realness in therapy, while the next chapter examines the idea of truth particularly with respect to the individual's own experience of truth, and Chapter 6 turns to the narrative self and its potentials and limits as a set of ideas. The topics of reality, truth and self are closely related. Questions of reality and realness are bound up in ideas of truth, and to highlight the experience of reality and the process of claiming truth is to raise understandings of the nature of self. Themes come to be repeated and layered across the three chapters and core dilemmas of narrative and constructionist ideas are thrown into relief as the exploration progresses. This then lays the groundwork for an integration of these themes in Chapter 7.
In tackling the question of reality in this chapter, I will begin with some short descriptions of practice experience as an introduction to what is essentially a discussion of theory and ideas. The theory discussion will move from the problem of abandoning any idea of reality separate to our languaged constructions, to issues of the power of realness, and then to the task in therapy of becoming involved with realness. The final part of the theory discussion will consider the complexities of trying to theorise reality and the need to hold on to recursiveness rather than oppositionality in thinking about the nature of social reality. The pieces of practice experience are then used as a return point of reflection.
Let me begin, then, with some pieces of practice.