Why can recounting past experiences be important in helping service users have a sense of who they are? Should care workers always encourage people to recall their pasts?
Recounting past experiences is an important part of the way in which we develop a sense of self; for service users this can contribute to making care individualised. This sense of self is linked to the early stages of attachment described by John Bowlby; that the intersubjectivity between infant and care giver forms the basis of a sense of identity that develops throughout life. When talking about ourselves and our experiences we are re affirming this identity. ‘Identities are lifelong projects and they build on ...view middle of the document...
‘Insensitive and inconsistent care is interpreted by children (and adults who have experienced such care when they were children) to mean that they are ineffective in securing love and sustaining comforting relationships.’ (David Howe 2009).
Children: Life Story Work
According to Bowlby, we use exploration to gain early experiences which then develop ‘internal working models’, these models are modified throughout life and form the basis of how we see ourselves within the world (K101, block 2, p 30.). A child who is unable to form dynamic, effective internal working models can have difficulty in forming a sense of self and of identity. The stories or ‘scripts’ that make up these internal models are based on past experiences and predict how the world works and how people will behave in similar circumstances. These scripts also include a model of the child himself; in this way the identity is developed ‘so these scripts contain the child’s ideas about the kind of person he or she is and how he or she is seen by others.’ (K101, block 2, p 32) In Jordan’s case his development of a life narrative has been disrupted by entering foster care, a sequence of primary care givers and loss of contact with his father. This means that there has been little opportunity to re tell and share past experiences; this can result in the inability to maintain a secure base leading to fragmented internal working models and difficulty in forming a sense of self and of identity. (k101, block 2, p 34)
Recounting past experiences can be a valuable tool in providing children with the resources to form and maintain a sense of self and identity. Much of the early events in a cared for child’s life have been reduced to entries in Social Services files, by gathering information about his or her early life and family history a child can begin to form his or her own life story which will give the opportunity to form a secure base and internal working models which provide the basis for a sense of identity and of self.
Jordan discovers that he was moved from one of his foster homes due to the failing health of his carer and not, as he had believed because of his behaviour (k101, block 2, DVD activity 4), this re examination of early experiences can play a significant part in the formation of a secure sense of identity. Jordan talks about how life story work has helped him to form relationships with his foster carers, Bill and Bev, (K101, block 2, DVD activity 4). In Jordan’s case life story work has given him the opportunity to develop a set of scripts or stories about his early life that he can build on to develop a sense of identity for himself.
Adults: Remembering the Past
Talking about the past can help service users to reaffirm their sense of self and of identity, in the case studies of Leslie Learmont and Margaret Scally (K101, block 2, DVD activity 7) talking about their life at Lennox Castle and their past experiences provides information for care...