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Lifestory

Anna Allen, Registered Manager at Clover Lodge, has been trained in Therapeutic Life Story Work and is our Practice Lead for Lifestory Work. Anna has been trained in DDP Levels 1 and 2 and if you have any further quesries regarding Therapeutic Life Story Work at Clover Childcare Services please contact her direct on anna.allen@cloverchildcareservices.co.uk 

Therapeutic Life Story Work at Clover 

Life story work is a therapeutic tool to help children resolve early trauma and form secure attachments with significant adults in their lives.

We feel that life story work is an approach that helps young people to talk and learn about their life experiences with the help of an adult that the child has a positive attachment with. This process does not always have to have an end product as going through the process itself is the most important factor (Ryan and Walker 2007). We also value the process of life story work in the fact that our children will leave our care with a book explaining their life story.

Through our training and experience, we have developed a life story process that develops with the child as they grow as we understand that their understanding of their world will also change. Life story work should not be viewed as static, something that has happened and now is at an end; rather, it should be viewed as being ongoing, as a dynamic and helpful process throughout life.

Due to time restrictions, we understand that social workers do not have the desired time they would wish for to complete effective life story work. With this in mind, compounded with the research that there is a lack of consistency in delivering life story work (e.g. Gallagher and Green 2012) we have devised our own process.

 Life story work can be broken down into 3 separate and significant parts which are:

1.            The formal sessions that will be completed with the attachment figure under the guidance of the life story lead and Consultant Psychologist. These are written up and put in the ‘trauma’ section of the child’s Therapeutic File. The formal sessions are written up on our keyworking observation sheets which include the principles of DDP and PACE (playfulness, acceptance, curiosity and empathy).

The keyworkers/attachment figures who are delivering lifestory sessions with children will attend formal training, be offered support and receive supervision with the lifestory practice lead. All cases of children that are having lifestory sessions will be taken to The Therapy Forum (an internal meeting between the practice leads of Theraplay, Lifestory and DDP with the Director of Care and Consultant Pychologist) in which the practice lead will receive supervision from The Consultant Psychologist.

2.            The collation of the relevant information for devising and then presenting the Trauma Nurture Timeline (see timeline to entry document). This includes meeting the social worker and reading the child’s files, meeting appropriate family members and collating photos if possible. This all helps to build a picture of the child’s past which we then deliver to our Psychiatrist who will offer support, insight and strategies to the staff team based around the principles of DDP. This timeline is delivered to the staff team in the home where the child is living and, if the child attends The Stables Independent School, the timeline will be delivered to their team to ensure consistent approaches should any information or behaviour from a child appear to be linked to any adverse childhood experiences.

3.            The completion of a lifestory book by the keyworker/attachment figure. This is an ongoing piece of work, regularly updated throughout the child’s time with us which they can take away when they leave our care. This book will hopefully assist in the child forming a coherent narrative of their early life. 

Kim Golding’s pyramid of Need 2007 has become an essential tool for us to use for each individual child when applied to our therapeutic approach. It can be used as an effective reference point of where the child sits on the triangle and whether they are ready for DDP/Theraplay/Lifestory.  The decision about which approach is best suited to each individual child will be made by the members of the Therapy Forum and then shared with keyworkers/attachment figures who will be integral to the successful use of the agreed approach.