Caring with Carers

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Life Story Work

Every child deserves to know the whole truth of who they are.

Caring With Carers, Therapeutic Life Story Work Australia
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Shannon Kendrick - Therapeutic Life Story Work

Therapeutic Life Story Work: answers, healing and positive futures

Every child has a right to know the answers to the what, when, why and how questions about their early life experiences. For children in out-of-home-care, the stories they need to understand are often so fragmented, complex and painful that they’re avoided.

But these children need answers.

They need stories, and they need someone to be brave enough to give them the truth.

Who has the confidence and skill to unpack difficult subjects and big feelings.

Who understands the best way to communicate with them, and slowly build trust with their entire support network. Someone who can identify what supports they might need after hearing some triggering information.

They need someone who will put their fragmented history into a cohesive, safe and healthy narrative that privileges their voice.

That’s what our accredited Therapeutic Life Story Work practitioners do. 

Helping children and young people
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Children & young people in care
Children & young people in OOHC
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Trauma informed care Sydney
Out of home care services for children
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I finally understand why I was removed.
I've been in the foster care system since I was 9 months old. I turn 18 in less than 2 months ... and I have only just heard my story and now know the facts through completing my Life Story Work with Shannon from Caring With Carers. I would have liked to have known my life story much earlier; it would have helped me not to make up stories and have more understanding of why, when and where I had been. Please let other children participate in Life Story Work so they can also know who they are.

Excerpt of a letter to the Department of Communities and Justice from Hannah, a young person in care

The positive impact this had in Hannah's life and the sensitive but factual way she delivered her story. I only wish we had met sooner! Every child in care needs a Shannon.

Received from Carer in 2022

What I enjoyed most about working with Shannon and engaging in TLSW is how efficient she is. She is very efficient at finding information and helping the children with their story.

Received from Carer in 2022

Working with Shannon and engaging in Therapeutic Lifestory Work allowed us to fill in the blanks we had. It was great to find out the life story, there was a lot we both didn't know.

Received from Carer in 2022

Harry no longer needs to make up stories about where she has been and has a better sense of identity and acceptance

Received from Carer, 2022

The best thing about engaging with Shannon? I god to understand my feelings and work on my problems. Hearing all about stuff. It was good knowing Mum didn't leave us.

Received from Young Person, 2022

Who Therapeutic Life Story Work Can Help


Children and young people



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Families and carers

Who Therapeutic Life Story Work Can Help

Backed by
independent research

In 2022, the Therapeutic Life Story Work – Barwon Pilot Evaluation Report 2022 was published. This world-first evidence-based evaluation of Therapeutic Life StoryWork by MacKillop Family Services and Deakin University has described the program as “transformational” in helping children and young people in care to heal from their trauma.

What you can expect

TLSW is about giving a child their full identity. We share their stories and lived experiences respectfully with a focus on recovering from trauma, developing positive identities and strengthening bonds with carers.

It takes time and a skilled TLSW practitioner to know what’s therapeutically safe to explore with a child. The work is carried out sensitively, with the child’s support network and a safety plan in place.

The creation of the lifebook is collaborative. We hold a safe space where everyone can genuinely contribute and develop stronger attachments.

Life Story Work helping young people to understand their past

Grounded in evidence, led by curiosity

A functional approach to Therapeutic Life Story Work

Therapeutic Life Story Work (TLSW)

Information gathering

Caring with Carers meet with case workers to discuss the situation.

Therapeutic Needs Assessment #1

Initial interviews, analysis and therapeutic case analysis.

Engaging the child or young person

Tools and strategies for effective engagement with the young person.

Therapeutic Needs Assessment #2

Data collection, analysis, and therapeutic case planning.

Life Story Book documentation

Tools and strategies for effective engagement with the young person.

Therapeutic Needs Assessment #3

TLSW outcomes and recommendations.

Even after the first session, it was clear to Leo and myself that this is a gateway to his emotional freedom.

Lisa, Leo’s mum



I'm Curious

Recommended for C/YP wanting to know certain information (suited to children aged 3+)

Information Banking

Direct work

Therapeutic Needs Assessment

Creation of Story Book


My Time To Understand

Complete Therapeutic Life Story Work Process (recommended for C/YP aged 6 years +)

Information Banking

Direct work

Therapeutic Needs Assessment

Creating of Story Book

Delivery of Therapeutic Needs Report


Empower My Carer

Suitable for carers applying for guardianship or adoption

Information Banking

Consultation with primary carer

Creation of Story Book, inline with information banking

Questions you might have about TLSW

The TLSW approach was developed in the UK 25 years ago by Richard Rose. Therapeutic Life Story Work is trauma-informed and underpinned by theories of attachment and loss and grief. TLSW is the first model subjected to independent research and validated as an evidenced-based narrative model that has excellent outcomes for traumatised children, young people and adults.

“The research has shown us that TLSW strengthens the attachment of a child to a primary caregiver, which then supports improvement in peer relationships, education outcomes, reduction in trauma symptoms experienced, reduction of high-risk behaviours, improves mental health and wellbeing and overall, a greater sense of identity” – Dr James Lucas, Deakin University

The therapeutic model that guides what we do starts with creating a safe connection and building trust as a first step. Once trust is established, we can start to move into some of the more difficult conversations, along with the people the child trusts and feels supported by.

We’re constantly assessing what information will be helpful to the child and when it’s best to share that information. A safety plan is in place to identify what sort of supports they are going to need around them while that information is shared and then in the days that follow. No child or young person receives information where it is not therapeutically safe to do so.

We don’t believe in no story; there is always something to be uncovered. Where there isn’t a great deal of information to work with, our work turns to asking a child about their feelings, what questions they have and exploring that. And sometimes it’s about honouring their grief over not having all the pieces of the puzzle and working to create healing with information we do have.

We understand that anybody associated with child protection might not feel like a safe experience for you. We’re not there as child protection practitioners; this isn’t therapy or an intervention. This is an opportunity to help fill in the gaps and share your experiences in your own words. Your story matters because your story is your child’s story. 

When the carer knows the child’s story and is part of that journey, it becomes a lot safer to start having tricky conversations and create trust a lot sooner. It can also be incredibly validating to a carer when they see that they’re not alone in their experiences with a child working through trauma.