Life story

Tips for undertaking a life history work

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Life story work is more than just finishing a book that describes events in the life of a child or youth. In a Community Care Inform guide, Elaine Dibben, adoption and family development consultant for CoramBAAF, explains how to use life history work to help adopted children explore and understand their ancient history. Community Care Inform Children subscribers can read the full guide, which includes sample life story books. Here we present some key tips from the guide.

When labor begins

A clear decision must be made as to when the work on the life story should begin. This would normally be a formal decision made as part of a child’s review or case conference. Second, who should be doing the job needs very careful thought and consideration. Whoever takes on this important role should be able to meet the child on a consistent and regular basis. Ryan and Walker (2016) suggest weekly sessions for the first eight to 10 weeks, but recognize that bi-weekly sessions may be more realistic for some workers.

Many children in care have known unreliable adults and have had chaotic lives. Life story work provides an opportunity to promote a child’s self-image and the first step is to have an adult see them regularly and give them a clear message that it is time to go. child and that he is valued. In addition, the worker should benefit from good support / supervision; life story work carries a heavy responsibility and can be emotionally draining.

Which sessions involve

The life story work process incorporates a range of tools and activities to help a child explore their life. The production of a book of life stories is an additional tool in the process. Sessions with children can include crafts, puppets, play characters, etc. All information about a child’s memories and feelings, with their permission, should be included in their book.

During work

Workers should go at the pace of a child and not be tempted to force them into a particular issue. A worker may only have “10 minutes of work”, but the rest of the session can be used to allow the child to explore the game and, if you can fully engage in the game, a child can do so. reveal much more about his way of seeing the world. and you can strengthen your relationship with the child.

Work on life history should be carried out in a way that allows the child to feel supported and nurtured. Many children in care experience high levels of emotional pain and have suffered many significant losses. A child’s life experience can mean they are in a constant state of red alert and functioning at a primitive level of fight, flight, or freeze.

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