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Telling the Stories of Life Through Guided Autobiography Groups [Hardcover]

James E. Birren , Kathryn N. Cochran
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

June 6 2001
Telling the Stories of Life through Guided Autobiography Groups, based on James Birren's 25 years of conducting autobiography groups, discusses all the topics an organizer faces while developing a program for adults who want to recall and write down their life histories. This book is ideal for adult education programs, church groups, social workers, psychologists, gerontologists, and others who work with adults who might be interested in exploring, recording, or sharing their personal histories. It helps professionals and trained workshop leaders at community centers, senior centers, schools and other settings guide group participants in exploring major themes of their lives so that they can organize and write their stories and share them in a group with others on the same journey. This exercise is rewarding for adults of any age in a period of transition or with interest in gaining insight from their own stories. Personal development and a feeling of connection t! o other participants and their stories is a natural outcome of this process. This book provides background material and detailed lesson plans for those who wish to develop and lead an autobiography group.

The authors explain the concept of guided autobiography, discuss the benefits to the group participants, and provide logistical information on how to plan, organize, and set up a group. An appendix provides exercises, handouts, and suggested adaptations for specific groups. The book also explains a systematic method of priming memories, including the history of family and of one's life work, the role of money, health and the body, and ideas about death.

At a time when rapid change has created a widespread yearning to write down and exchange personal accounts, sharing life stories can reveal a great deal about how we have come to be the persons we are. Telling the Stories of Life through Guided Autobiography Groups shows how to organize, record, and share life experiences through a proven and effective technique.


Product Details


Product Description

Review

"The book is overflowing with voices of experience..." -- —Robert C. Atchley, PhD, Naropa University

About the Author

James E. Birren is associate director of the UCLA Center on Aging. He is the author of Guiding Autobiography Groups for Older Adults. Kathryn N. Cochran is an independent writer and editor who writes on a range of topics, including personal development, creativity, the family, education, and the arts and sciences. She also conducts guided autobiography workshops using the Birren method of guided autobiography.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
Autobiography is a life history told by the person who lived it, a form of nonfiction writing that dates from the earliest recorded time. Read the first page
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Concordance
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
September 8, 2001
Book Review by Cheryl Svensson
Telling the Stories of Life Through Guided Autobiography Groups
James E. Birren and Kathryn Cochran
I have led Guided Autobiography groups using, Telling the Stories of Life Through Guided Autobiography Groups, as my guide. The manual has proven to be the ticket to success!.
Guided Autobiography is an ordered, logical process of sequential steps that assist in writing one's life story. Each of the ten week sessions focuses on a theme that explores the important aspects of life and provides sensitizing questions as a guide to uncover the true life story. The purpose is an exploration of one's own life in a meaningful way that is
self-enriching and can also be left as a legacy for family members. The group process supports this end and provides the security and encouragement for self-exploration.
James Birren and Kathryn Cochran have provided guidelines to lead groups from the initial steps of recruiting group members to the final wrap-up session and saying good bye. Complete lesson plans are included that cover every feature of the weekly session. Each of the ten-week sessions includes a specific checklist, e.g., reminders to bring name tags, roster sheet, paper, pens, etc. to ensure success. The sensitzing questions, one of the keys to the Guided Autobiography process, are
included for each life theme. Furthermore, there are additional
suggestions and techniques for each session to stimulate creative writing skills, use of metaphor, and prompts to prime memories among others.
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Amazon.com: 4.9 out of 5 stars  8 reviews
33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The ticket to success for Guided Autobiography groups Sept. 8 2001
By Cheryl M. Svensson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
September 8, 2001
Book Review by Cheryl Svensson
Telling the Stories of Life Through Guided Autobiography Groups
James E. Birren and Kathryn Cochran
I have led Guided Autobiography groups using, Telling the Stories of Life Through Guided Autobiography Groups, as my guide. The manual has proven to be the ticket to success!.
Guided Autobiography is an ordered, logical process of sequential steps that assist in writing one's life story. Each of the ten week sessions focuses on a theme that explores the important aspects of life and provides sensitizing questions as a guide to uncover the true life story. The purpose is an exploration of one's own life in a meaningful way that is
self-enriching and can also be left as a legacy for family members. The group process supports this end and provides the security and encouragement for self-exploration.
James Birren and Kathryn Cochran have provided guidelines to lead groups from the initial steps of recruiting group members to the final wrap-up session and saying good bye. Complete lesson plans are included that cover every feature of the weekly session. Each of the ten-week sessions includes a specific checklist, e.g., reminders to bring name tags, roster sheet, paper, pens, etc. to ensure success. The sensitzing questions, one of the keys to the Guided Autobiography process, are
included for each life theme. Furthermore, there are additional
suggestions and techniques for each session to stimulate creative writing skills, use of metaphor, and prompts to prime memories among others.
Having the training manual when running Guided Autobiography groups is like having a professional pack your suitcase when you embark on an extended ten week journey; nothing has been forgotten, the proper clothes for each occasion and all weather conditions have been anticipated, everything is mixed and matched perfectly, and all that's left is for you to enjoy the trip.
Telling the Stories of Life Through Guided Autobiography Groups does all that and more. Having the training manual frees you to fully engage yourself in the exciting Guided Autobiography process and grow along with your fellow travelers.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterful guidance for autobiography groups Dec 1 2010
By J. Neill - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book describes in great detail the method James Birren has used for over a quarter of a century. It contains very useful and evocative prompts covering major areas of life to use with autobiography groups. Its advice on group organization and facilitation is outstanding, revealing the knowledge, perception, skills and experience of the authors. The tone throughout the book is one of respect and attention to the uniqueness and dignity of all individuals involved, not surprising to any familiar with the career of or personally acquainted with its major author, James Birren.

I found that this handbook also provided innumerable aids in facilitating a process similar to Guided Autobiography, "Life Review," for groups in a variety of settings--nursing homes, retreat and senior centers, faith sharing groups and training of counseling and health care professionals. There is nothing important left out from the organization to the implementation of such groups. The insightful and sensitive prompts provided addressing a person's life story have routinely produced rich responses from those involved. While not the major intent of the book, utilizing the process described has not failed to produce group bonding in the groups where it has been used.

Particular attention should be paid to the leadership of these groups. Experienced leaders will recognize the wise advice and others will have sound counsel from Birren and Cocharan about the skills needed and pitfalls to be avoided. I highly recommend the book for guided autobiography and other similar groups.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enriching our Lives together Sept. 29 2010
By Rachel Macpherson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Does to perfection what the book title suggests. The authors have given a helpful, and essential, description of the qualities which a group faciitator should possess. Following this the whole program is set out clearly, week by week, with useful suggestions for the presenter. This is a rich source of experience which has been shared so generously by the authors. Dr.James Birren and colleague have practised and shared a wonderful journey to be enjoyed by many people. The group I am leading is highly motivated; they are finding that their involvement not only gets them moving to write their stories but it also becomes a truly desirable social experience.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Handbook for Jump-Starting Autobiographies! Feb. 13 2012
By Ronald Gross - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
An inspiring and meticulous Handbook that provides everything you need to know about conducting groups using this proven methodology. Includes "camera-ready" materials for planning, promoting, organizing, and conducting your course -- from the initial news release, to the final session evaluation form. The authors are the originator of the method, James Birren, a giant in the field of gerontology, and an experienced practitioner.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Autobiography themes July 12 2013
By Elizabeth C. Crow - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I have used this guide to conduct dozens of interviews and record life histories for future generations. It causes the reader to think about a theme and recall how they lived, thought, felt and decided at the major branching points in their lives. Major branching points is just one of the 8 or 9 themes. Each theme has sensitizing questions to prime the memory and the best part, the questions and theme fit on a single page - so the person recording their life story does not have much preparation before they are richly engaged in telling the story of their life.
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