THERAPUETIC LIFE STORY WORK (TLSW)

(Life story work is a NICE requirement (QS31 Quality statement 4) for looked-after children and young people. It is also integral to National minimum standards adoption/children's homes/fostering services 2011 standard 2).

Jennifer's Diploma (Distinction) in Therapeutic Life Story Work was achieved after studying with Richard Rose at the Institute for Arts in Therapy and Education (IATE). The institute defines TLSW as

"Therapeutic Life Story Work, a defined approach, is designed to introduce the past as markers for the present. Once these are understood, the child is supported in considering how to move on to make significant changes, as a result of a far deeper understanding and awareness of how their history has been negatively impacting on their present.

 

In essence, therapeutic life story is not just about the who, what, where, when, why and how, but how a painful past, if not reflected on and worked through, can go on to blight present and future. Instead, if we can help children to think about their history of trauma and loss, to understand its origins and effects, we can identify and understand the ‘ghosts of the past’ so children are no longer haunted by them".

The intervention includes three main stages:

The creation of an information bank where in-depth historical information about both pre-birth and post-birth history is carefully gathered from various sources in order to develop a holistic view of the child's experiences.  This information provides an understanding of where the child has come from, the various relationships they have experienced and informs the child's internal working model and their attachment strategies.  If any gaps in the child's history are found then they can be further researched.  This  information bank provides the narrative to the second stage which is internalisation. 

Internalisation - these sessions between the therapist, the child and its parents / carers explore the feelings and thoughts related to their life experiences through play and different creative mediums.   This helps the child to gain a coherent narrative about their life and develops a more informed positive sense of self. 

Creating a Life Story Book - this is the final stage of the therapeutic process and occurs towards the end of the internalisation sessions.   It is important that the book is completed with the child  to enable them to have ownership of their life story. The whole process leaves the child  with a healthy, positive  sense of self and an enhanced  feeling of wellbeing.