Hooley, Katherine Clare (2015) Identifying Perspectives on Life Story Work with Looked-after and Adopted Children. Doctoral thesis, Staffordshire University.
Abstract or description
Life story work is a widely used intervention in adoption and fostering. Despite being
recommended for use with all children in the care system, the outcomes are underresearched.
This review systematically evaluates the scope of the current research into life
story work in the looked-after population, investigating the processes used in practice and
the benefits and limitations of these approaches. The findings of this review suggest that
life story books are a predominant tool within the process of life story work alongside
direct work with social care professionals, foster carers and adoptive parents. Although
qualitative studies have found many benefits to these varied approaches to life story work,
there are limitations to these studies. The findings do not directly correspond with the
findings of quantitative studies that have evaluated life story work and have indicated little
benefit. Life story work varies in how it is conducted and further research is needed to
examine the key components of effective life story work
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Rachel Willis and Sally Holland report on a qualitative study of young people's experiences of life story work. Semi-structured interviews were carried out with 12 young people aged 11–18 and looked after by one local authority in South Wales. They had experienced a wide range of styles and content of life story work. The young people reflected on both the emotional aspects of the work and the new information they had gained about their own histories. Life story work invoked a range of emotions among participants, including tedium, pleasure, anger and sadness. It also appeared to have a function in helping young people to work out aspects of their identity. All were positive about the experience, although a small number had found the process tedious at times or intrusive to their everyday lives. Most envisaged a future role for the life story books in their lives, expecting to return to the work for their own reflection or to show it to others. The article concludes that both the process of life story work and the material record produced are important to looked after young people. The paucity of empirical studies in this area is noted and suggestions for future research are made.