The Principle Behind Life Story
“… ‘mapping’ his life story… allows him to make connections between aspects of his life that were previously disconnected… he is then able to see… the different parts related to one another, a cultural and social picture, rather than separated pieces related only to his personal psychology or ‘pathology’…”
Etherington, K. (2009). Life story research: A relevant methodology for counsellors and psychotheraptists. Counselling and Psychotherapy Research, 9(4), 228
How Life Story offers an Alternative to Traditional Therapies
Life Story was born when I observed that impact of the life story interview used during my doctoral research was reaching beyond the academic.
Life story interviews offered a clear therapeutic benefit to my respondents as they walked me through their life experiences. The Third Culture Kids, or expatriate kids, I interviewed found themselves recalling incidents long forgotten as story connected to story, and the echos of the past were heard, resounding in present-day lives.
There are many reasons that people turn to counselling. Many good reasons encourage people to reach out for professional support. Life Story work can act as a compliment to traditional counselling; it can offer empathy and expertise in understanding the highly mobile life and its cultural context.
For those who feel unsettled in themselves but who do not feel themselves to be in need of counselling, Life Story work offers an alternative approach to increased self-awareness and supports client-led change. Life Story work is method-focused and is essentially collaborative, empowering the client in a validation of their life experiences whilst contributing insights born of research and experience. These insights offer valuable context in processing these experiences and harnessing them to the benefit of the story yet to come.
Some clients may have experienced trauma in their histories that they have either tackled directly through specialised counselling, or do not yet feel ready to address in detail. Life Story work allows for a holistic perspective of a life, without making it necessary for a client to ‘go over’ again especially traumatic elements of that life. Rather, the story is seen a whole, rather than through the limiting lens of the trauma itself. This can feel more possible to engage in change, and limits the risk of re-traumatisation.
For anyone adrift in their identity, or perhaps seeking to better understand the implications of his or her highly mobile childhood, Life Story processing and analysis is a straightforward approach based on a solid academic foundation and the many years of experience of conducting, processing and analysing life story interviews.
What if I feel I need more than Life Story offers?
If after reading about what the Life Story process comprises, you feel counselling may be more helpful to you, the link below is a helpful starting point for anyone based in the UK. Other countries may have similar directories.
For any Third Culture Kids, or adult children of expatriates, the link below takes you to an International Therapist Directory, established by Interaction International.