A Biographical Approach for Social Work. 28 th CIF Conference, Kiljava , Finland Aug. 5, 2009 Johanna Björkenheim. A biographical approach Why use it? Concepts How use it? What is it? When use it? Documentation Ethical aspects. Biographical narratives in social work.
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A Biographical Approach for Social Work
28th CIF Conference, Kiljava, Finland
Aug. 5, 2009
A biographical approach
How can social workers take into account the past life of their clients?
The present life situation is best understood
– refers to the experiences a person haslivedthrough(Rosenthal 2003)
Life story, biography
– someone’snarrated, personal life story as related to another in conversationor as writtendown in presenttime(Rosenthal 2003)
- involvesstudy of ”the social patterns in the timing, duration, spacing, and order of events and roles of human life trajectories(Elder & Rockwell 1979) recognizingthattheseelementsareconsequences of plansthatpeoplecarryforthwithin the constraints of their social world” (Lopata & Levy 2003).
results in a storyaboutoneorseveralthemes
results in a usuallyquite long life story
b) agency for constructingindividualuniqueness
(Betts et al 2007)
aims at restoring the biographicalidentity…
…byreconciling the ’realityprinciple’ and the ’creativity and self-empowermentprinciple’.
(Betts et al 2007)
…is NOT oneclearlydefinedworkingmethodbut a way to relate to people’slives and life storiesusingdifferentmethods
Käytännön opettaja sosiaalityön kehittäjänä -koulutus
A psychosocialassessment is seen as an intervention in itself, and the way it is done is important
In a narrative approach marginalising and oppressive dominant culturalstories are deconstructed
The service user is supported to create the meaning of his/her life and to rejectstoriesimposed by others
(Milner & O’Byrne 2002)
The meaning of vocation/profession, education, work history
Storieshelp to structure the future
Dominant narratives may be supportive or restrictive
Dominant narratives mayprevent rehabilitation workersseeing and accepting alternative narratives
How the misusestarted, changed (and stopped)
The role of substances in a person’s life (alsobefore the person started to usethem)
Causes life changes
Is notalways a staticconditionthatyouadapt to once and for all
Theremaybe a certaincoursewhichincludesdeterioration of function
The dynamicelement and changesappearclearerviewedfrom a life courseperspective
usuallywant to talk abouttheir life…
…and get help to find positive aspects in the life lived
The wish to talk about the deceased person with others who knewhim/her…
…and togetherbuild a story about the deceasedperson’s life and reconstructone’sownplace in it
…can be moreimportantthan the emotional ’workingthrough’ of the griefaiming at continuing life without the deceased.
Sharing of life experiences in self-helpgroups, reminiscencegroups(Saarenheimo 1997) etc.
Riessman, Catherine Kohler (2001) Personal Troubles as Social Issues: A Narrative of Infertility in Context. In Shaw, Ian & Gould, Nick (2001) Qualitative Research in Social Work. London/Thousand Oaks/New Delhi: Sage.
Rosenthal, Gabriele (2003) The HealingEffects of Storytelling: On the Conditions of CurativeStorytelling in the Context of Research and Counseling. QualitativeInquiry. Vol 9(6), 915-933.
Saarenheimo, Marja (1997) Jos etsit kadonnutta aikaa. Vanhuus ja oman elämän muisteleminen. Univeristy of Tampere.
Valkonen, Jukka (2004) Kuntoutus tarinoina. In Karjalainen, Vappu & Vilkkumaa, Ilpo (eds.) Kuntoutuskanssamme. Ihmisentoimijuudentukeminen. Stakes.
Walter, Tony (1996) A new model of grief: bereavement and biography. Mortality, Vol. 1, No. 1, 7-25.