What is Guided Autobiography?
Guided Autobiography was developed by Dr. James Birren in the mid ‘70s at the University of Southern California. It has been used widely over the past forty years to help people document their life stories, through a series of priming questions, turning points and life themes.
Researchers have found that people of all ages benefit from Guided Autobiography, and it is particularly helpful for those in transition, those entering a different phase of life, or those seeking clarity around new directions. Listening to others’ stories in a supportive environment can trigger forgotten memories, allowing for new reflections and insights. Benefits include increased self-acceptance, positive views of others and sense of connectedness, as well as decreased anxiety.
I have spent the past four years researching the various applications and many mental health benefits of Guided Autobiography. I consider myself extremely fortunate to have crossed paths with some of the early pioneers of this process, including Dr. Cheryl Svensson and Dr. James Thornton, who have generously shared their vast stores of knowledge and wisdom with me. They also provided me with access to research papers I would otherwise probably never have found. Over the next few months I will be compiling a list of these resources, research papers and additional information, prompts and inspiration. (Watch for the addition of a resource page on this site.)