In all of my years working and contributing to this field, I don’t think I have ever encountered a program that has left me feeling so enlightened, redirected, and so incredibly motivated.
I consider this approach to be the way of the future for Children and Young people, allowing them to better understand the trauma they have experienced, develop compassion for themselves, and then move on to lead full and happy lives.
What is Therapeutic Life Story Work?
TLSW is an approach based on the model developed by Richard Rose (UK) that supports children to explore, question and understand their history and how it has negatively impacted on their present. The approach gives children a voice and safe space to learn, feel and express their emotions when making sense of their past experiences.
Often children in care with trauma backgrounds have a life history that is extremely fragmented. They have not had the opportunity to learn about their past, to hear their stories, to share their own stories, and to make sense of who they are.
What does it involve?
The program has three stages; the information bank, the internalisation, and the Life Story Book.
The first stage, the information bank involves the collection and preparation of historical information of the chid, pre-birth and post-birth, including records, photographs, people, and events. The information is then collated and placed in chronological order forming a factual narrative for the child. This narrative provides a holistic view of their life and informs their trauma, creating the foundation to then plan interventions in the next stage.
The second stage, the ‘internalisation’ stage, sees the child, the carer and the TLSW worker, break down the narrative. Traumatic experiences are explored and the child’s responses to these (developed to keep themselves safe) are considered. A greater awareness allows the child and carer to see the influence these past experiences have had upon their present. This leads way to developing an ability to change, move forward and create a positive sense of self.
The final stage, The Life Story Book, is completed towards the end of the journey. The book is designed by the child (including font, illustrations) and comprises the factual information explored in the first two stages. The book assists the child to take ownership of their work, and their understanding of their journey and its importance.
What are the benefits?
This approach is a momentous step forward for children with trauma backgrounds. It allows them to learn about and process their life and past experiences. It provides a platform for the child to develop capabilities to use this knowledge and history to move forward and prosper.
The relationship between the child and carer strengths throughout this journey. The carer is investing in the child by learning about their first attachment style, the messages they would have received in early experiences, and how this has influenced the child in their life so far.
We consider the importance of this work to be giving time and space to people who are struggling with the pain of their past, allowing them to reflect, heal and live a fulfilling life in the future.
The Caring with Carers team have completed the Diploma of Therapeutic Life Story Work with Richard Rose. We have developed an innovative model to align with TLSW and we are now offering this service to NGO’s and DCJ’s throughout AUSTRALIA, not just NSW.
We are passionate about training and delivering objectives and outcomes for our partner agencies and carers, strengthening and developing relationships and facilitating longevity in placements. Our collective experience and training allows our highly skilled team to facilitate training programs with professionalism, efficiency and compassion.
If you as an agency or carer want to know more about our Therapeutic Life Story Work approach, contact our director Shannon directly.
By investing in this program, you will avoid leaving the children and young people you are working with to wait to start their healing process. You will allow them to understand their stories through a therapeutic lense and begin to develop the strengths and capabilities to heal.