By Vera Fahlberg
Every individual is entitled to his/her own history. It is difficult to grow up as a psychologically healthy adult if one is denied access to one’s own history. Traditionally, the family is the repository of knowledge about the child. Children separated from their families of origin do not have daily access to this source of information about their personal histories. It becomes more difficult for them to develop a strong sense of self and to understand how the past influences present behaviors. Without this awareness, it will be more difficult for them to make conscious choices and take responsibility for their own behaviors. For this reason, we believe a Lifebook should be made for each child. It is never too late to do a Life book nor too early to start one.
The Lifebook is used to enable the child to understand significant events in the past, confront the feelings that are secondary to these events, and become more fully involved in the future planning of their lives. The first step is frequently to learn how he explains himself to himself, and what he understands his situation to be. This means listening for the child’s perceptions. Until we do this, we won’t know if we are to expand their information or correct their misperceptions. Each time the Lifebook is read, the child is likely to understand the message in a slightly different way, reflecting her current intellectual abilities and psychological needs. The message we are trying to convey is "You are important. Your thoughts and feelings are important." (Ryan, 1985)
A Lifebook Can: