I offer two levels of guided autobiography:
GAB1 is the basic level developed by the Birren Center for Autobiographical Studies in California and has a strong focus on life review. In sessions held over six weeks, we explore themes like turning points, family, health and what we consider to be our life’s work. The first part of the roughly two-hour session is devoted to activities to enhance self-awareness, writing skills, and memory; the second for sharing aloud the stories you have written at home in the preceding week.
Those who want to continue gaining benefits from life review and sharing their stories in a small group, but want a stronger focus on writing craft, can go onto GAB2.
GAB2 borrows from the curriculum developed by the Birren Center, but is intended for those who want to take their stories and writing to the next level. In GAB2 we spend the first part of the session learning the core elements of writing memoir and discuss things like story structure, developing strong characters, and what makes good dialogue. In the second part of the session, we tackle themes like love, finding independence, and gaining resilience–themes you will write about at home and then share aloud with your small group the following week.
Although GAB happens in a variety of places and is enjoyed by a variety of groups, the two main ways to experience GAB is online and at Simon Fraser University in their Liberal Arts and 55 Plus Program.
Doing guided autobiography online provides an opportunity to be part of a GAB group for people who either can’t attend an in-person session, or prefer to participate from the comfort of their own home. All you need is a computer that has a built in mic and camera. The rest is easy.
And, although people sometimes think that an online group can’t achieve the same level of trust and mutual support as an in-person group, those who participate online would disagree. For a glimpse of what it means to participate in an online GAB workshop series, go here.
If you are interested in doing guided autobiography with others in an online group, or want to find out more, please write to me. People who participate online come from a variety of time zones so I build a waitlist and when numbers warrant, we agree on a time that works best for all.
The fee for GAB1 or GAB2 Online is $219+GST.
GAB in a Classroom: SFU
GAB is also offered through SFU’s Liberal Arts and 55+ Program. Look for the workshop series called “Story Catching: Learning From Life,” Sessions take place at the downtown campus at 515 West Hastings Street in Vancouver.
Unlike GAB Online, where you are part of a smaller group (no more than 6), roughly 18 people participate in the SFU workshop series, but you still share your stories with a small group. I am unable to be part of the small groups, but that doesn’t preclude high levels of energy, fascinating stories, and mutual support.
The next SFU workshop series February 21 and runs for six weeks until March 28. Spaces for these workshops fill very quickly so be sure you register as soon as registration opens.
Occasionally I lead workshops for private organizations. like a writers’ group, a seniors’ residence, or a library. Sometimes I spend an evening leading a workshop for a bookclub. These may be one-off sessions, lasting anywhere from 1.5 hours to a full day. I tailor the GAB content to fit participant and organizational needs.
If you are interested in hosting, or organizing, a special GAB Sessions workshop, either contact me, or arrange this through the person who is the program coordinator for your residence/organization.
Fees arranged through an organization are generally set by that organization.
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