Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work (MSW)


Social Work


Lyle S. Hallman Faculty of Social Work

First Advisor

Nick Coady

Advisor Role

Thesis Supervisor


This qualitative research study explored the use of a narrative therapeutic summary letter format as an adjunctive intervention with clients engaged in individual therapy. The study’s sample consisted of six client subjects who received summary letters from six therapist subjects. Client subjects were furnished with written summaries of four consecutive counselling sessions. The summaries were based on pre-established narrative summary guidelines supplied to each respective therapist. After client subjects had received four consecutive summary letters, in-depth individual interviews were conducted with each client. The aim of these interviews was to explore and document clients’ experiences with the narrative therapeutic summary format. In addition, each of the six therapist subjects completed a 12 page questionnaire designed to document their experiences with and opinions of the proposed summary format. Interviews were transcribed and analyzed based on the guidelines outlined by Taylor and Bogdan (1984). Clients’ experiences with the narrative therapeutic summary format focused on four main areas. These were client usage of letters, positive impact of letters, non-helpful effects of letters and client preferences/suggestions for use of the letter format. Therapists’ experiences with the summary format were analyzed from the questionnaires and organized into five sections which focused on the use of the letter format, and therapists’ opinion of its utility. The results of the study are discussed in relation to the existing literature on written productions in psychotherapy. Both clients and therapists found the summary format to be a useful adjunct to standard verbal therapeutic discourse and largely agreed on the helpful aspects of the format. Differential use and impact of the summary letters is discussed. A number of limitations of the study are addressed, and implications for practice and future research are explored.

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