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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Guided autobiography for older adults Hunter, Candice A.


Guided autobiography for older adults is a promising tool for helpers interested in working with this population. Outlined by Birren & Deutchman (1991) this method of group work enables older adults to reflect on and review life as lived through sharing written reflections in a confidential small group setting. An ethnographic case study was designed to better illuminate how guided autobiography impacts older adults and to help determine whether it is a promising group design for counsellors and other professionals working with older adults. Seven older adults from West Vancouver participated in a guided autobiography group using Birren & Deutchman's (1991) methodology, focusing on the theme, "the major branching points of life". After the completion of the group each participant was interviewed individually. The interviews were audio-taped, transcribed and then analyzed for evidence of the outcomes reported by Birren & Deutchman (1991). Evidence was found in support of the following outcomes: reconciliation with the past and resolution of past resentments and negative feelings; resurgence of interest in past activities or hobbies; development of friendships with other group members. No evidence was found in support of these outcomes: sense of increased personal power and importance; recognition of past adaptive strategies and application to current needs and problems; greater sense of meaning in life. New outcomes were identified as: recognition that one's life is not yet completed; satisfaction with one's life course; a new perspective and/or appreciation of one's life through comparison with others; and a new awareness or heightened awareness of one's contributions and/or abilities.

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