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'Beads of Life' approach: Working with young people and families to tell their stories about chronic illness in ways that make them stronger.

A one day workshop with Sara Portnoy in Manchester

November 4th 2016


Cost:  £95 + VAT (less 20% if you are paying for yourself)

'Beads of Life' is a narrative approach for people whose lives have become dominated by an unwelcome ‘visitor’, which could be a chronic illness or  any other problem that grows into a dominant story. This approach is named ‘Beads of Life’ because its theoretical foundations come from the ‘Tree of Life’ and to connect it with other projects which draw on this approach e.g. ‘Kite of Life’, ‘Recipes of Life’ etc.

I started using beads as a way of helping young people tell their medical stories when I was working at St Mary's hospital on their bone marrow transplant unit with young people who spent a long time in isolation and the beads enabled them to share their stories with other family members and staff. Drawing on inspiration from Narrative therapy and in particular the 'Tree of Life' I re-shaped the 'bead programme' into 'The Beads of Life'

‘Beads of Life' uses beads as hooks to hang stories on. It is an approach which puts the young person in a safe place to stand before hearing about the 'problem story'. It allows us to get to know the person apart from their diagnosis and bring forth rich, multi-stranded stories of the young person’s lives that lie outside of the problem as well as hearing about the 'problem story'.

Individuals and groups of young people between 8–24 years have taken part in 'Beads of Life'. We have also worked with parents.

In this workshop we will:

  1. Explore the narrative theory which underpins 'Beads of Life'
  2. Experience ‘Beads of Life’ as participants
  3. Practice key skills which are part of the 'Beads of Life' approach
  4. Address the process of running a days workshop with young people as well as using this approach with individuals

The workshop is suitable for people with a wide range of knowledge and experience of of Narrative Therapy, from very little to a lot! If you are able to come with a colleague then this will make it easier to put the ideas into practice in your agency, but of course you will still be able to make use of the ideas even if you come on your own.
About the presenter
Sara Portnoy - I am a Consultant Clinical Psychologist and I have been developing 'The Beads of Life' approach since its early beginnings at St Mary's hospital in 2000. In 2004 I started working at UCH with young people who have a diagnosis of Cancer. I also started working for Life Force which is a community paediatric palliative care and bereavement team. At this time I was fortunate to be supervised by Dr. Glenda Fredman and I became inspired by ideas from Narrative Therapy.




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