Online Certificate in Reminiscence and Life Story Work (R&LSW)

An on-line program to prepare people to use the powerful tools of reminiscence
and life review to help others tell their life stories

Program Description

Since 1996, when James Atlas, editor of the New York Times Magazine proclaimed this to be the “Age of Memoir,” the practice of ordinary people recording their life stories has steadily increased. It is a common experience to many who stumble upon the powerful tools of reminiscence and life review to think they are the first to think of the idea. As a result, many individuals proceed to apply these concepts in their work without being adequately prepared to do so, sometimes resulting in less than satisfactory outcomes.

This program will prepare individuals from wide ranging backgrounds to engage in life story work in a variety of settings. It is designed to:

  • teach the intricacies of doing such work including the rewards, challenges and dangers
  • provide an interdisciplinary background in the history, theory and research in reminiscence and life review that is fundamental to any type of life story work
  • introduce the many ways reminiscence, life review and related disciplines are applied in various professional fields to meet widely varying client needs
  • guide first-hand experiences facilitating reminiscence sessions
  • prepare for planning a private practice/small business providing life story services to others
  • assist in completion of a hands-on project applying learning from courses to work with real-life clients

Those who receive the certificate should be confident in their knowledge base and be able to ethically proceed to engage in life story work in their own settings.

This certificate program has been designed with leaders in the fields of Reminiscence and Life Review ( and other life story work professionals including personal historians.

Program Format:

The certificate is composed of four modules: three courses and a capstone practicum. Each course module is eight weeks. Course work will include reading assignments from the work of the foremost scholars in the fields of reminiscence and life review and from leading practitioners in the field of personal history/memoir writing.  The program is non-credit but course content is at college-level.  The Capstone module requires completion and documentation of a project working with clients.  The time allowed for the Capstone will vary by student and project.

Each module utilizes the Desire2Learn (D2L) web-based on-line learning platform. Courses are taught in a semi-asynchronous format:  Students progress through the program as a cohort with weekly assignments completed at the best time during the week for each individual student.  Students and instructors actively interact with each other via on-line discussions.

Each of the first three modules is composed of sub-units that will last for one week and will include several readings, a discussion board and written reflections. Participants will need to respond to peers’ postings on the discussion board and apply the reading in the reflection.  Each weekly sub-unit is estimated to take three to six hours to complete, depending on the academic background of the student.

Program Components:

Module 1: Fundamentals of Reminiscence and Life Review (R&LR): Theory, Research and History

This course will introduce students to the main contributors in the field of reminiscence and life review and provide examples of how R&LR are used in various lines of work.  It will also review adult development theories to provide a context of the people with whom students will be working. Instructor: Loriena Yancura, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Family and Consumer Sciences, University of HI

Module 2: Reminiscence and Life Review Practice and Application

In this course, students will acquire the knowledge, skills, and principles for conducting successful and safe reminiscence and life review sessions.  Interview techniques, strategies for conducting individual and group sessions, and cultural considerations will be examined.   Students will apply concepts by conducting reminiscence or life review sessions by the end of the course. Instructor:  Juliette Shellman, Ph.D., APHN-BC, Associate Professor of Nursing, University of Connecticut

Module 3: Developing a Reminiscence/Life Story Work private practice

This course will introduce students to the specific competencies required to launch and operate a reminiscence/life story work practice.  It is designed to dovetail with business management educational resources elsewhere, but not to replicate what is readily available to students in their communities. Instructor:  Sarah White, BA, Personal Historian, Entrepreneur

Module 4: Capstone Project: A Practicum in Reminiscence and Life Story Work

The purpose of this project is for students to be able to demonstrate that they can effectively apply what they learned in the course work to actual practice and to ensure that students have at least one hands-on completed project for their portfolio or resume.  The practicum will be completed with mentoring and over-sight from an experienced professional in an area of R&LSW as close as possible to the student’s intended area of practice. The practicum will be individualized to meet the needs of each student. Coordinator: Esther Gieschen, MA, UW-Superior, Center for Continuing Education.

Upon satisfactory completion of capstone project and payment in full of all fees, student will be awarded his or her official Certificate in Reminiscence and Life Story Work.

2018 Certificate in Reminiscence and Life Story Work Event Site

Program Fees:
Base Rate:                                   $1789

IIRLR Member
Discount:                                      $1699

The 2018 program is scheduled to start March 28, 2018.
Those interested in applying should contact Esther Gieschen at or 715-394-8529