Life Story Project: Life Stories & Disaster Recovery

Does telling one’s ‘life story’ accelerate recovery from a disaster? The objective of the proposed Life Story Project was to allow residents of the Gulf Coast who were displaced or greatly impacted by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita to tell their life story in a therapeutic manner. This study’s primary objectives were to (1) establish the feasibility of conducting such a study with a displaced population, and (2) explore the utility of oral histories for helping displaced and disengaged individuals re-establish positive social roles for themselves through this story-telling process.

Life Stories were videotaped in an Operation Assist mobile recording studio (the retro-fitted Operation Assist Public Health Field Office), and a customized DVD of the taping was given to each participant at the end of the taping session. Participants were followed up with at one and six months after the taping in order to gauge the use and effectiveness of the Life Story intervention, and their self-assessed measures of self-efficacy, personal growth, social engagement, and depression/mental health was compared with a control group.

Tags: Documentary, Disaster Research, Hurricane Katrina, Disaster Recovery, Hurricane Rita, Oral History, Testimony Therapy, GCAFH