Lifeline

Use this to help someone think about his/her life and the peak experiences that give it meaning. This may help the person decide what they want their future to be. The difficult times may explain why some current situations are hard to deal with.

The exercise can be very useful to build a group or team when people want to build trust and mutual understanding.

Step zero. Establish a positive learning climate by getting agreement to confidentiality, listening and working together. Tell the person or people that if they have concerns or needs you will help them deal with them, if you can.

Step one. The person/people draws a life-line containing at least four significant ups and downs. Just draw a line connecting the incidents.

“Ups”

Family celebration.

Felt happy and safe

  Met my partner

Felt excited and happy

  Adventure in Nepal

Felt challenged and fulfilled

“Downs” Bullied at school

Felt powerless and angry

  Fell ill

Felt scared and guilty

 

Step two. Each person describes the life-line in detail as a facilitator or colleague listens and draws out the feeling and meaning of the experiences. If you work in a group, it should be quite small. Make sure everyone gets an equal turn to speak about their “Life-line” and what it means to that person. I encourage attentive listening from everyone. Questions for clarification are OK, but people often feel vulnerable so probing and analysis are usually unhelpful.

Step three. Review the exercise by asking people what they have learned and if there is any way we could do it better next time. I often ask what the implications are for the organisation. One is that as people come to know each other better, they will become more understanding and trust and co-operation will increase.

If you would like help using this idea, or have any comments or questions please contact me. Thanks, Nick