This initiative began as a medical research project to study the efficacy of a novel interview tool to help clients tell their story. Verbal interviews are routinely used in the settings of mental health and addictions treatment. Barriers of literacy, culture, sensitive disclosure, poor client engagement and attention can frequently interfere. The Life Story Board (LSB) uses a visual board to accompany conversation to help elicit information, enhance sharing, and confer insight in ways not achievable by verbal means alone.
Across three pilot sites, the use of the LSB was seen as favourable by both clients and counsellors. Themes of client experiences included new insight or self-awareness, recognizing how they could see and relate to their life in a visual way, and that they felt supported in sharing their experiences. Counsellors felt that clients appeared to have an easier time sharing with respect to their barriers, that it increased client insight, and that clients felt in control of the process. The findings support the idea that in mental health and addictions treatment settings, the LSB can play a positive role in client engagement, expression, and information sharing, and therefore may be beneficial to their outcomes.
Given the positive results, leadership at AFM Men’s Services purchased LSB kits and is offering this tool to clients, as appropriate. They continue to report positive feedback back on this tool and AFM is exploring the expansion of the tool into other programs.