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Therapeutic Life Story Work

Thanks to philanthropic support, MacKillop is offering Therapeutic Life Story Work, a creative process to help young people in care express in pictures, words or colours their feelings about how the loss of family and home has impacted their life.

Meet Meisha; she is one of a team of practitioners undertaking an innovative new program – Therapeutic Life Story Work (TLSW) – with young people living in residential or foster care.

Over the nine-month process, Meisha reviews case notes and interviews birth family members and other previous carers, before meeting with the young person to creatively record information about their life on a large roll of paper. Over the ensuing months pictures, stories, shapes or simple words are drawn on the paper to create a visual timeline. As aspects of the child’s life are revealed, they often have questions that are captured on the paper and answered in ensuing sessions.

Carers also participate to give them a better understanding of how a young person’s history can influence any current challenging behaviours.

Our goal is to help a young person make sense of what they have faced in their life and why they are now in care.

– Meisha

“Ultimately, we want to help them manage issues like unresolved anger and grief and help them build the emotional skills needed to express how they are feeling and improve their mental health and wellbeing.”

“The feedback from young people doing this work is so positive,” says Meisha. “One 15-year-old said Life Story Work helped put together the missing puzzles of her life: the parts she didn’t understand or know about now seem to be filled and she is feeling more whole.”

Currently Therapeutic Life Story is only available in Geelong and Warrnambool for children in Foster Care. We are currently seeking funding to expand the program. If you are interested in this process for a child in your care, please contact your Case Manager.

A big thank you to the Give Where You Live Foundation, The RE Ross Trust, Equity Trustees (VCF George Perry Fund and The Otto and Elizabeth Schumacher Trust) and the Woodards Foundation for their support of the Therapeutic Life Story program.

Therapeutic Life Story was developed by international child trauma expert Richard Rose.