Guided autobiographies a way to share and recall life’s journey

Telling the story of your life never gets old, but the older we get the more important it is to share the tales of our trials and tribulations.

Marlene Brouwer, life story leader and Jungian psychoanalyst and psychotherapist, said she loves hearing the tales of people’s lives. She’ll be offering classes on the topic starting in September.

The classes are open to all ages and anyone who wants to write about their life and share it with others.

“The class has often led to new friendships. In small groups people develop a sense of trust.”

The classes start Sept. 12 and there is room remaining for more people to join. It runs for eight weeks every Monday.

“We give a topic for discussion and they go home and write and come back the following week to share with their groups and the class.”

The course is based on the techniques of James E. Birren, associate director of the UCLA Centre on Aging. He developed a guided autobiography technique to help students to find structure and meaning in the multitude of events that compose a life.

“He’s done a lot of his life’s work doing this and has been doing it for years to truly refine the technique.”

The stories that one writes for the class are entirely up to the individual. No matter how closely they follow the discussion topic all stories are welcome.

“It’s an idea for those who want to write their whole life story as a legacy for their family.”

Brouwer said most people have a hard time getting started and continuing on their story, so this is a way of keeping them on track and getting their stories told.

“What people choose to do with their stories is up to them. Some want to put them into an autobiography and some just want to write them to recall the stories themselves.”

Brouwer’s interest in the course is based in her history counselling and hearing other people’s stories. “I wanted to do this not as therapy, but as a fun project and way to share.”

The large discussion group will consist of about 10–15 people and smaller discussion groups will be created within the class.

Each story is to be about two pages long each week. Brouwer said telling the stories can be very healing and can lead to recollections of memories otherwise buried in ones’ history.

“It is a non-judgemental and supportive time where constructive criticism can be discussed and ideas for future stories can be produced.”

Registration cut off is Sept. 8 and the cost for the course is $105.

For further information and registration contact Marlene Brouwer at 403-350-5956 or at

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