In Australia, and I guess many other countries, Life Story focuses on a ‘chronological account’ of an individual’s life, usually presented in a book. This may contain a family tree and photographs and seeks to present as accurate a record as possible of a person’s background.
In contrast, Therapeutic Life Story work (TLSW) is grounded on an attachment theory informed approach for children and young people, often with complex trauma. While it is particularly useful for those who have had a number of placement breakdowns, TLSW can also be used directly with a young person (or adult) who lives independently.
TLSW typically involves one-hour meetings held at the same time and place every fortnight between the individual and therapist. The sessions take place in the home, providing a safe and secure environment.
Regularity, routine and commitment lie at the heart of TLSW, but it is also flexible and adaptable to the needs of each person and there is a strong element of creativity and play.
TLSW thereby allows an individual to gain a sense of the external world by unpacking events leading up to now so they can have a clearer understanding of their identity.