Everyone has a Story!
The fundamentals of how we view, internalise, experience, and respond to the world are embedded in our earlier life experiences. We all have a history that speaks to the sense of self therefore, having access to your history is important. When children experience multiple moves within the care system, they move further away from the people they have shared life experiences with which results in a fragmentation of their personal history and makes it more difficult to develop a strong sense of self and identity. Furthermore, being denied access to these earlier experiences and understanding their impact on the present and the future makes it difficult to develop into a psychologically healthy adult.
Why do we do therapeutic life story work?
Life story work gives children who are in the care system or who have been adopted, access to their history and supports them in processing and making sense of their past experiences. It aims to provide a written interpretation of the child’s life journey from birth to the present. Whereas ‘traditional’ completion of life story work does not always include the child or the caregiver, therapeutic life story work invites the foster carer and the child to participate in the process along with the life story work practitioner. This allows for both to develop their knowledge of each other, thereby strengthening the connection between the two and allowing them to become attuned to each other.
What are the Benefits of conducting therapeutic life story work with our young people
Therapeutic life story work not only focuses on the who, what, when why and how of past experiences but also considers the impact, these experiences have on the child in the present and how it may manifest in complex behaviours and feelings. The model offers not only a way of knowing your past but also an opportunity to heal and reframe negative narratives and empower the child in creating a strong sense of self. It can be powerful in helping children to reflect on how they approach various difficulties in their lives and lead them on a path of resolution and healing.
I worked with a 14 year old male and his foster carer during the process. J stated: ‘Lifestory work has helped me to recognise my feelings. It helped me to not put it in a box’.
The foster carer stated: ‘He has stopped being afraid to say what exactly is going on for him. He is more expressive’
Nicky Challen-Probert our Team Manager is an accredited Therapeutic Life Story Work Practitioner and has been working with many of our young ones to help them through this process, Here’s what Nicky has to say.