The Delivery of Life Story Work in Residential Out of Home Care: A Systematic Review of the Literature

Ms Soula Kontomichalos1, Ms Renee O’Donell1
1Deakin University, Park Orchards, Australia,

Young people in residential Out of Home Care (OoHC) are at risk of poorer outcomes as compared to young people who have not been in care. A key reason for this disadvantage is the extensive trauma experienced, both before and during care. Life Story Work (LSW) is an intervention that assists young people in care explore and address their trauma. Despite the emergence of this intervention, to our knowledge, there has been no systematic review of the literature on its efficacy. This is problematic given the vulnerability of this cohort and knowledge gaps into effective interventions.

The purpose of this study was to examine the literature to determine: (1) the manner LSW is delivered to young people in OOHC, and (2) to what extent does LSW improve outcomes for young people in OOHC.

A search of scholarly peer-reviewed publications was conducted for studies on Life Story interventions published in English with no date rage identified.

The findings identified eight studies. A common theme across all studies respondents was that the young person gained a better sense of them self, their family history and why they were in care. Any conclusions on the ideal frequency of sessions, duration of intervention and extent to which LSW improves the outcomes of the young people in OOHC, needs to be considered with caution due to the paucity of research and absence of any rigorous study designs.

Based on these findings a rigorous and comprehensive evaluation of the effect of LSW is warranted to identify the effect it is having upon young people in care.


Ms Renée O’Donnell, Research Fellow Monash University.

Biography Ms O’Donnell is a Research Fellow at Monash University and is presently leading the development and evaluation of a number of interventions delivered within the community sector, for young people who are disadvantaged and marginalised. Ms O’Donnell’s expertise surrounds the delivery and implementation of theory informed interventions that effectively change problematic behaviours among young people.

Ms Soula Kontomichalos, (1) General Manager Youth Justice East and Children’s Court Youth Diversion South East Metropolitan Region, Department of Justice and Regulation. (2) Member of the Youth Parole Board, Victoria. (3) Masters by Research student, Deakin University

Biography Ms Kontomichalos has extensive experience in the social welfare system having held management roles in the Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Justice and Regulation. Her responsibilities have included regional oversight of youth justice disability client services and residential facilities, housing assistance advice and reception services.

Jane McGillivray: Professor; School of Psychology; Deakin University

Helen Skouteris: Professor; School of Public Health and Preventative Medicine; Monash University

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