What is Therapeutic life story work?

Traditional Life Story Work is usually a short book prepared for a child who is adopted /fostered to help them to gain an understanding of why they came into Local Authority care. This workbook often contains inaccurate/confusing information for the child, leaves too many unanswered questions, does not deal with the child’s traumas and fails to tell the story from the child and birth parents perspective.

Therapeutic Life Story Work goes much further; it is a Therapeutic “process” undertaken in a sensitive and gentle approach facilitated by an experienced, trained Social Work practitioner working with both child and Carer as a triad. This impartial direct work provides the child with vital information about their past, works through traumas, helps them to make sense of current behaviors/feelings whilst making links with their history. This approach also helps the Carer to understand the impact a child’s history has on current behaviours and throughout the process this will help strengthen attachments, build up trust and support the child to make positive change for their future instead of them moving into destructive repetitions or re-victimisation.

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How is Therapeutic life story work delivered?

The Life Story Worker researches the young persons life so that they can provide accurate information, accessing children’s service files and other necessary documents to build up a picture of the child’s history, this usually includes interviewing birth family and previous Foster Carers.

Direct work sessions with the child and Carer using the child's researched history and their own memories creatively recorded on rolls of wallpaper using drawings, eco maps, fact and fiction exercises, time lines etc. The wallpaper will also include “feelings/loss/change” work. The end stage is the creation of a Life story Book, but the most important part of the process is what is recorded on the wallpaper

Known Outcomes

  • The child has a deeper understanding and acceptance of their life history and a more positive and healthy self-identity
  • Children are less pre-occupied with questions and the not knowing and as a result, they are often calmer and more focused in their thinking and behaviour
  • The child and primary Carer ultimately have a deeper understanding of each other’s thoughts, feelings and behaviours and so attachments are greatly strengthened
  • Deeper understanding and stronger attachments often leads to a decrease in the likelihood of a placement breakdown
  • Completion of a Life Story Book at the end of the intervention
  • The referrer will be provided with an outcome focused report

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Our Approach

A pioneer of “therapeutic Life Story” work is Richard Rose; his work is world renowned and this is the approach we use. It involves the child’s primary carer from the beginning to the end of the process, helping to strengthen the relationship between child and their Carer by exploring the child’s history through wallpaper work. It is anticipated that such an approach working with both child and Carer on a regular basis will help create a positive sense of which they are and secure a stable, consistent, and caring environment in which the child can learn that a traumatic experience doesn’t have to dominate their life.


Local Authority

“Working closely with the team at BTG Consultancy we were left in no doubt that we were in safe hands."

"The role of the worker from BTG was to to help carers gain an understanding of what the child has experienced; how abuse / neglect can harm a child’s development; and have realistic expectations about how the child’s respond to being in foster care. A major aspect of direct work is listening for the child’s perceptions.”

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How does it work and how can we help?

Arts & crafts Arts & Crafts

Using Arts & Crafts allows the young person to be given information about their past and be able to understand it.

Mouse Digital Media

Utilising technology is a good way to connect with young people by using equipment used in their everyday lives.

Science Visits To Places

Visiting places of significant importance will spark memories and engagement between the worker and young person.

Drama Games

By using fun and games the worker can provide the young person with information about their past and spark engagement.

Music Music

Using music as a stimuli can help with reminiscence therapy and place the young person at ease and open up.

Example Work

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