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Deaf Life Story Work blog

Deaf Life Story Work (DLSW) is a new evidence-based approach for enhancing deaf wellbeing through the cultural practice of life story telling. It was developed during Dr Goedele De Clerck’s 2015-2017 Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellowship  (EU Horizon 2020) at the University of Manchesters Social Research with Deaf People (SORD) group. The project was titled Deaf life narratives in times of transition: Towards a cross-cultural instrument for life story telling. 

DLSW supports deaf adults and young people to develop a coherent life story, enabling them to gain a better understanding of their lives. Being able to integrate past experiences with present challenges generates the strength and confidence that are needed for agency in future perspectives. This technique also coaches them to strengthen their deaf identity and increase their active participation in various communities. Being trauma-informed and therapeutic, DLSW contributes to positive experiences of change and empowerment. It draws on the strengths of signed storytelling and exploits the visual orientation and neurobiology of deaf signers, as well as visual methods such as working with pictures, videos, and artwork.

Therapeutic life story work is a well-established intervention in the UK and internationally, and is tailored to specific target groups, such adoptees and young people in foster care. Life story telling is also used in therapy and coaching for adults dealing with life transitions such as migration. DSLW aims to make available therapies and strategies that enable deaf people to develop resilience and self-esteem.

An ESRC (Econonic and Social Research Council) Impact Acceleration Account (IAA) grant titled The right of each young deaf person and deaf adult to tell his/her life story generously supported the dissemination of Dr De Clerck’s project through a workshop, videos, and a manual.

See here for an overview of the project:

This blog aims to provide updates on the developments related to this exciting new intervention.


Blog posts

New Publication in Contemporary Social Science

25 May 2018

An article on Deaf Life Story Work has been published in the prestigious journal Contemporary Social Science. The article is entitled Creative biographical responses to epistemological and methodological challenges in generating a deaf life story telling instrument (De Clerck, 2018). Please contact me at if you would like further details about this article. 

New Publication in Innovative Therapeutic Life Story Work

25 May 2018

I am delighted to announce the publication of a new chapter on deaf life story work, which appears in the volume Innovative Therapeutic Life Story Work: Developing trauma-informed practice for working with children, adolescents and young adults (Edited by Richard Rose, Jessica Kingsley, London, 2017). The chapter is entitled ‘Seeing My Journey With New Eyes: Therapeutic life story work with deaf people’. 

Deaf Life Story Work sensitisation videos

13 December 2017

This video introduces Deaf Life Story Work (DLSW) and the first-ever project on this new method. It is presented in BSL, with English subtitles and not only explains what DLSW is, but also illustrates the interaction between the client and practitioner.

The target audiences include professionals in mental health and social services, who may be interested to learn about this innovative means of supporting deaf wellbeing, and Therapeutic Life Story Work practitioners, who may find this video useful in providing guidance on how to work with deaf people. The video also targets service users who want to see what DLSW is about.

There are three versions, so that you can choose the one that suits your needs:

The 5-minute version gives a quick summary and mini-demo of Deaf Life Story Work.
Link to video

The 20-minute version provides a more in-depth explanation of Deaf Life Story Work, with commentary on its techniques and goals. 
Link to video

The 50-minute version offers a full picture of Deaf Life Story Work at a slow pace with plenty of recaps, to allow time for thinking, reflection and notetaking. 
Link to video