Welcome to our blog mini-series featuring the program Therapeutic Life Story Work. We will be releasing one blog per week over a six-week period to help our audience discover and understand this valuable program.
You can Click Here to read our last blog post that outlines the benefits of Therapeutic Life Story Work (TLSW) to the child themselves.
If there was ever a position, or role, within the out-of-home care industry with conflicting, yet equally gripping priorities and concerns it is that of the Case Worker.
The Caseworkers role is to professionally support, both emotionally and practically, the child in out-of-home care, along with the foster carers providing the care. They also provide casework to the biological parents and family, and the department or agency with carriage of the matter. How paradoxical that a caseworker has a connection to each party with an interest in the child, but those interests are markedly different and often opposing.
The Caseworker enables, develops and supports foster carers and children to lead happy, healthy and safe lives together.
Their duties are many; they provide direct casework to all involved, they undertake case management, they facilitate the connection between the child and their biological family, they liaise with external stakeholders and internal partners, they monitor for safety and security, and ultimately do all they can to enhance the outcomes for the child, and in turn their family and carers.
This role is impactful. This role is challenging. Essential to its functioning is the foundation of working towards cultivating and achieving the betterment of lives for the children and young people they manage.
It is said that a caseworker is pulled in many directions, then we say Therapeutic Life Story Work (TLSW) can be their compass. The program can be their means of navigating these conflicting interests, and steer everyone towards the outcome that is the best for the child.
The program benefits each person in the child’s life. It helps the child to develop an identity and autonomy, it helps the foster carer to understand the child’s history and their trauma, it helps the biological family to feel powerful and responsible for helping to build the child’s life story. Results that are the foundation of the caseworker’s role.
The program also brings to the caseworker a Therapeutic Life Story Work Practitioner. These expert steers the program, they do the groundwork, delivering these impactful results. The practitioners support is considered ‘weight in gold’, providing the caseworker a chronological history, communicating with the child on challenging topics, supporting the caseworker with information sharing, and managing the transformative process for every participant.
The first stage of the program is called Information Banking. This stage collects and collates the child’s life history, the records, the files, the anecdotal history, into one place, at one time. Each person has an action and will feel a reaction. The collective aim of building this stockpile of information also works to build a shared goal and vision, of the child having a life story that involves both their biological family and past, with their foster family and future.
The final stage involves the child building their ‘life story book’, their physical history. This book serves to benefit all who love and care for the child. It means that every person will have a place and will be valued in the child’s story. This is ultimately the foundation of what a caseworker’s role is. To help all, but in the view of the child and their best interests.
TLSW, aided by the TLSW practitioner, supports and gives power to every person involved in the child’s life, whilst retaining the focus on the child and working towards their positive future. This creates such an impactful foundation for relationships between the practitioner, caseworker and all involved in the child’s life.
This miniseries will journey through each stakeholder involved and impacted by TLSW. Our next post will look closely at the role of the caseworker, and how TLSW is seen and received through their eyes.
Until next time..