Personal Stories

Life stories from Participants of Rconstruction 

My recovery Al A.

  1. I had been a Mental Health professional for a number of years. Over these years, I accumulated hundreds of hours of training in Psychodrama and experiential therapies. I was a leader in experiential groups at one of this countries’ top facilities for trauma. These were my reasons for not being in need of a reconstruction. But I agreed to be the “star” ( the person whose life is the focus of the workshop) when I was asked. I wrote my history, talked to family members and friends about my life, and new issues brought feelings that were long buried. When it came time for the reconstruction day, I felt ready and confident it would be no big deal. Man, I was in for a surprise! My emotional well- being was the focus of the day. It felt like such a safe place, that feelings began to flow.  50 people witnessed and participated in my life story.  Everything else faded away and I felt I was confronting my past, my emotions and me. I cried and expressed anger that was long repressed and dealt with those feelings in a healthy and safe way. Much healing took place. As the day unfolded, it made sense to me how I had developed unhealthy coping skills as an only child of a single mother dealing with alcoholism. I had no role models for healthy couple skills. I learned I had choices and did not need to be a slave to my past. I still smile as I think of the celebration at the end of the day.  The joy and laughter was at a deeper level than I had ever experienced. All aspects of my life are better as a result of reconstruction. My self- worth, personal relationships and my connection with my Creator are more than I more than I expected or thought I deserved. That was twenty years ago! This is a gift that keeps on giving. My life has been richer and fuller since I mead the decision that I was worth being a star. 

Hush my child, more will be revealed.

There was my reconstruction day nearly 4 years ago with about 30 people present-far and away in the beautiful Sonoran Desert.  The process? Never heard of it. For 40 years, off and on, I read stacks of books, put n thougsands of dollars and countless hours of agonizing self-inspection just to learn how to share honestly and even feel, sometimes. It was all extremely helpful, working with 3 different therapists and every variety of therapy in existence, or so I thought. But experiential therapy?

After decade of chronic health issues, thought I might be dying. My new doctor said I need therapy. Been there, done that. She referred me to Arizona Family Therapy in Tucson. So the miracle began without me. I didn’t believe in miracle. But I was desperate. My first encounter with experiential therapy convinced my as yet unknown inner child, that I was in a different kind of place now. And this invisible child began to…what?….Trust. My overloaded, analytical, spun out, exhausted, scarred, wordy grown up self could take a back seat for awhile and just watch and rest. At long last. I was so relieved. And I didn’t understand.

After 5 years of “riding my feelings Grand Canyon Style in a dinghy”, I was invited to do a reconstruction. When the Big Day came it felt a lot like my wedding morning. I was visible! And terrified, humble and very excited. I felt I was ‘marrying’ a whole community and myself too…the self I had been at war with for so long.

I was a survivor. Those people who had helped to lift me up and give me clues about Life over the years were there on that day. It was pure joy to ‘see’ them via role players and to thank them. Unexpressed love and closure. The whole group learned where I came from. Some of my ancestors had been proud of their heritage and detail was available. The past generations lined up in the front of the room were moving and interesting. History came to life. They became relative to the present. I felt pride and empathy for them/

My perpetrators also showed up in role play. I needed to face them down. Power surged up in me, an ancient energy from every cell in my body. And the beauty of it is that all the participants witnessed it and had their feelings, backed me up and loved me unconditionally. I have never felt so not crazy!

In hind sight, I know that the miracle of the process is it gave me Truth. I saw what I needed to see. I felt a profound peace. I found acceptance.

Methods of Creating a Life Story


 writing the story in chronological order beginning with birth or circumstances at birth.  


Begin with the birth year, for example 1974. Fill in information for each decade until the present.

1974     1984     2004    2014   current

Picture and Word scroll

Using a roll of banner paper, draw pictures of significant life events in chronological order. Encourage metaphors or symbolic drawings.

Another version of this is to draw all the places they have lived. build stories around the places.

Other sources:

Photograph album

Genealogy sites and DNA testing

Family interviews by client or with client in therapy

Family myths or stories