Dignity Therapy: Learning to create a life document

The stories we tell at the end of our lives are often very different from the stories we might tell at other moments in our lives. For those facing a life-limiting illness, the opportunity to tell your story can be a powerful tool in improving quality of life.

Dignity Therapy is an evidence-based psychological intervention that was originally developed in Canada by Professor Harvey Chochinov and is now widely accepted into clinical practice in palliative care settings.

The goal of dignity therapy is to address suffering in dying by affirming dignity. Using a step-by-step intervention, a trained therapist invites people with life-limiting conditions to reflect on their life, find meaning, and leave messages for loved ones in a written, narrative document.

Dr Brenda Bentley

Dr Brenda Bentley is a Senior Lecturer at Murdoch University. She was trained in Dignity Therapy under Professor Chochinov himself. Having previously run training courses and workshops in Western Australia, she is now bringing her expertise to New South Wales. Her training course is designed for allied health professionals, doctors and nurses and will equip them with the skills to lead patients through the process of creating a written record of their life.

“Dignity Therapy is a psychotherapy performed with people facing death to help them explore their impact on the world and help them to reclaim their identity. It involves the creation of a life review document that is shared with others.

“By giving dying people a say in how they are remembered, dignity therapy can help people accept death.

“It also means they can do something for their loved ones that will endure beyond their own life and which helps their families deal with grief.” she says.

The Dignity Therapy training workshop runs April 16 – 18. To register for the course or to find out more about Dignity Therapy please click here.