1st Edition

A Session by Session Guide to Life Story Work A Practical Resource to Use with Looked After or Adopted Children

By Gillian Shotton Copyright 2021
    196 Pages
    by Speechmark

    196 Pages
    by Speechmark

    Life story work is a term often used to describe an approach that helps looked after and adopted children to talk and learn about their life experiences with the help of a trusted adult. This book is an essential step-by-step guide for carers and professionals seeking to carry out life story work with a traumatised or vulnerable child in their care.

    Underpinned by positive psychology and drawing on up-to-date research and real-life practice, the book offers a sound theoretical understanding of life story work as well as a practical and easy-to-use programme of sessions. Each session covers the equipment and information needed, a consideration of who is best placed to carry out the work, and answers to commonly raised questions. Also discussed are age-appropriate approaches and ideas for extending each session into other activities and methods to make it more feasible for life story work to be a shared activity between two or three adults who know the child well.

    This book gives professionals and carers the confidence to carry out life story work in a way that is sensitive to the child’s needs and positive for their self-perception and relationships.



    A narrative approach to life story work

    Research around the effectiveness of using a narrative approach

    How to use this book

    Session one: establishing the ground rules and feelings cards

    Session two: The Tree of Life (part A)

    Session three: the tree of life (part B)

    Session four: A map of all the places you have lived

    Session five: Birth certificate

    Sessions six and seven: Co-constructing the story so far

    Session eight: Stones in a jar, acknowledging different types of memories

    Session nine: Origami hearts: Celebrating people who have had a positive impact

    Session ten: The Team of Life, part 1: Values

    Session eleven: Team of life part 2: Identifying their team and goals

    Session twelve: Team of life part 3: Tackling problems

    Session thirteen: Therapeutic stories


    Appendix one: tree outline

    Appendix two: strength cards

    Appendix Three: feelings cards

    Appendix Four: Jar of stones activity

    Appendix five: team of life, football pitch outline


    Dr Gillian Shotton is an Educational Psychologist in Northumberland with a specialist remit for working in the children’s homes as well as carrying out work in schools. Gillian is also a field tutor on the doctorate course in Educational Psychology at Newcastle University and has written a number of books and journal articles.

    "A useful and practical book that describes a gentle approach (which is both simple and sophisticated) which is likely to in-fill emotional holes in the life history of a young person who is likely to have been maltreated."

    Dr R. J. (Sean) Cameron, writer and psychologist.