We deliver groups within workplaces, schools and community settings for adults, children and young people.
We find that narrative ideas and practices offer particularly the innovative ways for bringing people together, promoting well-being and resilience and reducing stigma.
Examples of some of the narrative group work we do include:
If you are interested in how the narrative group approaches could be implemented in your context please contact us .
About the Team of Life
The Team of Life is a narrative group therapy approach that has been used within diverse contexts nationally and internationally, for example with former child soldiers in Uganda, people from refugee backgrounds and young people in schools.
- Brings people together in teams using sporting metaphors
- Develops awareness of support networks
- Builds a sense of connected identity by establishing a ‘team of life’ from amongst family, friends and other significant relationships
- Shows how people they worked together with their team to ‘score’ a goal using ‘Goal Maps’, an innovative way of celebrating goals
- Enables people to reflect on how they can overcome obstacles with the help of their team
- Is strength-based and does not require young people to directly discuss problems or trauma
- Facilitates a sense of agency in the young people, who can be active contributors to the lives of others as well as to their own lives.
Team of Life in Schools
As part of our work with schools and NHS Child & Adolescent Mental Health Services, we developed a group programme for children and young people using sporting metaphors based on the Team of Life narrative approach.
A randomised control trial led by University of Liverpool showed the programme was more effective than usual pastoral care in reducing depressed symptoms and social withdrawal among children following transition to secondary schools.
About the Tree of Life
Telling stories in ways that make us stronger
The Tree of Life was first developed in work with children and young people in Southern Africa whose lives were affected by HIV and AIDS. The flexibility and universal cross-cultural appeal of the methodology has led to its use in a broad range of contexts internationally and in the UK such as with refugee groups, acute mental health settings, learning disabilities, professional groups, women’s groups, etc.
The methodology uses metaphors from the natural world to emphasise people’s skills, abilities, hopes and dreams by inviting them to draw a tree to represent different aspects of their lives:
- The roots are where you come from, family history, favourite place, favourite song or dance, treasured objects and special memories.
- The ground is where you live, where you go to school or work, everyday activities and hobbies.
- The trunk represents skills, qualities and values
- The branches are hopes, dreams and wishes
- The leaves are important people in your life
- The fruits and flowers are the gifts you have been given
Tree stories are then shared and a ‘forest of trees’ is created to represent the community standing together. This process helps people to find a safe place to stand or ‘riverbank position’ from which to respond to the ‘storms’ of life.
Tree of Life within Physical Health Settings
We are currently involved in a project with Manchester Centre for Genomic Medicine and Birkbeck London, offering this creative way of working to people living with a family history of Huntington’s disease.
Our work using the Tree of Life within physical health has been presented at European Conferences including the European Conference in Narrative Therapy and Community Work in July 2016 and the European Society of Human Genetics Conference in May 2017. We deliver a Tree of Life group intervention as a support option for people either living at risk of Huntington’s disease or who have had predictive testing themselves. We are looking at the feasibility of offering narrative groups across a range of genetic conditions.
Tree of Life in Schools
Schools are now expected to be finding ways of supporting well-being and building resilience among their students.
The Tree of Life is an innovative cross-cultural approach that is being used in schools all over the world. The simple beauty of the approach means a range of staff groups can get involved including teachers, pastoral and support staff.
We have experience in directly facilitating Tree of Life work in schools as well as training and supporting staff with delivery. For example, following our training and support, one teaching assistant extended her Tree of Life work with students to work with groups of parents.
Whole School Tree of Life
The Tree of Life can also be used at a whole school level. For example, following a training session that was delivered to the whole staff group, one primary school adapted the Tree of Life methodology to their respective classes from Reception (aged 4) up to Year 6 (aged 10-11). The success of the project was down to the way all the staff including the senior leaders, teachers, support staff and students got involved, inspired by the Tree of Life metaphor which appeals to all ages. Her Majesties Inspectors were impressed with the work earning a mention in the school’s OFSTED inspection report:
“Parents and carers hold the school in high regard in the way the staff care for pupils and help them in difficult times. For example, through an initiative called The Tree of Life, all pupils have been encouraged to be reflective. Pupils and their families experiencing trauma have been supported particularly well through this approach” (OFSTED, 2011).