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Rethinking risk: a narrative approach

Felton, Anne; Stickley, Theodore


Anne Felton

Theodore Stickley


The assessment and management of risk is central to contemporary mental health practice. The emergence of recovery has contributed to demands for more service user centered approaches to risk. This paper examines the potential of narrative as a framework for understanding risk and safety in mental health care.
Narrative theory is adopted to structure a debate examining the potential role of a narrative approach to risk assessment and inform future practice.
There is a danger that even within services, people with mental health problems are understood in terms of their riskiness perpetuating an image of service users as ‘dangerous others’. This is confounded by a disconnection with individual context in the risk assessment process. Narrative centralizes the persons’ subjective experience and provides a contemporaneous self-account of their identity. This situates risk within a context and creates possibility for greater understanding of coping, strengths and resilience.
There has been a call for new ways of working with risk in mental health which facilitate safety and recovery. There is limited examination of what this might actually look like. This paper presents narrative as an approach that may achieve these aims.


Felton, A., & Stickley, T. (in press). Rethinking risk: a narrative approach. Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice, 13(1),

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Nov 7, 2017
Online Publication Date Jan 1, 2018
Deposit Date Jan 5, 2018
Publicly Available Date Jan 5, 2018
Journal Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice
Print ISSN 1755-6228
Electronic ISSN 2042-8707
Publisher Emerald
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 13
Issue 1
Keywords Narrative, Mental health, Risk, Recovery, Other
Public URL
Publisher URL


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