TLA in Action

The following are real-life examples of TLA, used by permission.

  • A storytelling class for caretakers of people with terminal illnesses meets weekly for two months. The participants, all of whom have lost a loved one to a terminal illness at least six months before, tell stories mostly at first about loss, grief, anger, exhaustion, hopelessness, and depression. As they revise and hone their stories, and witness others who have been through similar circumstances, the participants begin to give themselves permission to create new stories about what they want in their lives now and in the future. They perform their work together at a special event held at a local respite center.
  • A writing class for inmates in a maximum security prison allows a group of men a chance to write about “the story behind the story” of their crimes: what family and community conditions drew them into crime in the first place. In writing about their childhoods, particularly how poverty and often growing up without a father impacted their lives, they develop a deeper understanding about not only why they’re in prison, but what other options they may have once their terms are over.
  • People with chronic and debilitating illness meet weekly to write stories of their lives that are then put together in a display with photographs of each writer. Throughout the sessions, the participants discuss and write about the losses in their lives as well as the wider perspectives they hold. At the end of the eight-week workshop, the writers hold a public reading in a gallery that displays photos and writing of each participant.
  • Corporate officers meet each month to look at and discuss myths that underlie their lives and thedirection of their work, and from these meetings, create, revise and perform a dramatic expression of new myths that focus on helping them gain greater focus and a stronger commitment to taking positive risks in developing new projects.
  • People with AIDS and their caregivers meet regularly in workshops to tell stories of living with the illness, and from listening to each other, find renewed strength. The group continues for over a decade, mourning the loss of some of its members to AIDS, providing ongoing support for the caregivers, and welcoming new members who often remark that they can share things in this group they can?t express anywhere else.
  • A drama therapy group in an in-patient treatment center for mothers who have temporarily lost custody of their children because of alcohol and drug addictions meets weekly so that the women can act out positive ways to respond to high pressure situations.
  • A group of teenage girls, ages 12-18, meets weekly one summer in a writing class focused on helping them develop a better sense of their identity and value. The girls write about body image, anorexia, family relationships, and sexuality. Through the writing, the girls develop a stronger understanding of why they believe what they believe, and a clearer sense of their goals.

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