What is Therapeutic Life Story Work?

Traditional Life Story Work is usually done with Children who are adopted or fostered to help them to get a better understanding, and come to terms with their history

Therapeutic Life Story Work goes further, it is a Therapeutic process that will :-

  • help a young person make sense of their past

  • understand how this effects and impacts them at present

  • helps them to make positive change for the future

  • helps them to build relationships

The process will help and young person to understand their feelings and make links with their history and how it effect their thoughts, feelings and actions.


What are the outcomes?

- It is likely that the child will emerge with a deeper understanding and acceptance of their life history and a more positive and healthy self identity

- Through knowing their life story, it is hoped that the child will become less pre-occupied with questions about their past and the things they do not know. As a result, they may be calmer and more able to focus, and their present-time relationships may be under less strain. 

- Because therapeutic life story work always includes the primary caregiver, it deepens the understanding between child and caregiver of each-other's thoughts, feelings and behaviours and so attachment is greatly strengthened. 

- Deeper understanding and stronger attachment often leads to a decrease in likelihood of placement breakdown. 

- The child will receive a Life Story Book at the end of the intervention which they can go back to, share with important others, and carry with them throughout the lifespan. 

Timescales and phases: 

Typically, Therapeutic Life Story Work takes place over a 9-12month period. It has three phases: 

1) The Information Bank - the TLSW practitioner collates an array of information from social work files, interviews and physical evidence. They then consider how the child views their world and what their attachment issues may be.

2) Internalisation - The child is encouraged to externalise their thoughts, feelings and emotions and these will be explored and recorded on a long roll of wallpaper. This will be carried out in the family home with the primary caregiver present and usually takes 18 sessions which are undertaken fortnightly. 

3) The Life Story Book - I will make a book that records the information from the wallpaper - the child will decide what will be included in this representation which will be for others to see as well as for the child.