‘Beads of Life’ group uses narrative therapy principles to help young people with a diagnosis of Cancer to tell the many stories in their lives in ways which make them stronger. The video describes a one day workshop that is run at University College Hospital, in London where beads are used as ‘hooks’ that the young people can hang their stories on. In the morning the young people choose different beads to represent the many different stories in their lives related to their skills and abilities, where they are from, how they spend their time, the important people in their lives and their hopes and dreams. Having spent the morning ensuring that the young people are in ‘a safe place to stand’ the afternoon is spent addressing their stories around Cancer and weaving these stories into the many other stories in their lives. Outsider witnessing, Externalising, creating therapeutic documents of the young people’s preferred identity stories and creating a community practices are part of the day.
Although at UCH this approach has been used with young people with a diagnosis of cancer it could be used with young people where any difficult story is dominating their lives. ‘The Beads of Life’ has also been adapted to work with young people individually.
Sara Portnoy is a Consultant clinical psychologist and has worked in the health service with children and their families for over 25 years. For the past 13 years she has worked at University College Hospital, London with children with a chronic physical condition and with Life Force (Community paediatric palliative care and bereavement team.) She draws on ideas from narrative therapy in all areas of her therapeutic work.