Elders Talking Circle: A Reminiscence Story Sharing Group

NNEDLearn 2014 Participant: Denver Indian Health and Family Services

Description: The Elders Talking Circle helps to relieve participants’ symptoms related to dis-empowerment, these include anxiety, denial, despair, isolation, grief or loss, and helplessness. The process of life review and reminiscence, which is part of the Talking Circle, builds empowerment by helping participants achieve inner peace, acceptance, hope, a sense of community and connection, and builds self-efficacy. The program includes integrative reminiscence therapy and  instrumental reminiscence therapy.

Integrative reminiscence therapy: Elders accept negative events in the past, resolve past conflicts, reconcile the discrepancy between ideals and reality, identify continuity between past and present, and find meaning and worth in life.

Instrumental reminiscence therapy: Elders recollect past successful experiences in which they used effective coping skills and strategies to solve difficult situations and achieve their goals.

Population of focus: Native American elders who have self-identified experiencing depression or anxiety, elders who are feeling isolated and disconnected, and elders returning to the workforce .

Setting: Community center

Level of focus: Individual

Background: For thousands of years, American Indian and Alaska Native peoples have passed on their traditions, beliefs, and advice through the telling of medicine stories. These stories have offered tales of great adventure, love, mystery, tragedy or joy, and have explained: how to live in harmony, the importance of cultural values, life lessons and how to survive in difficult circumstances.

In addition to the wisdom passed down, we now know that reminiscence and life review is a proven way for Elders to gain self-worth, learn more about themselves, and give the gift of their stories to the next generation.



John Jewett, MA, LPC, CACII
Emai: jjewett@dihfs.org

Patricia Pino, MA, LPC, CACIII
Email: ppino@dihfs.org