University of Nevada, Reno




Why Write: What Experts Say


A great deal of research has been done that verifies the beneficial effects of life story writing.  Here are links to some of that research:



  1. Autobiography Narrative: Personal Narrative as a Tool for the Elderly

    By Claudia Collins, PhD, University of Nevada Cooperative Extension


    Link to the Journal of Extension home pageThe University of Nevada, Cooperative Extension created the Senior Autobiography Workshop to help older adults write about their lives in a way that can enhance social and family networks and improve seniors' self-esteem, important factors in maintaining physical and mental well-being. Both the process of life review and the autobiographical final product can produce great mental and emotional benefits. Workshop attendees report having gained insight on the value of their life within the context of their family structure.

  2. Autobiographical Writing: An Innovative Therapeutic Recreation Intervention

    By Nancy Richeson, PhD, CTRS


    Link to"An understanding about the way in which we think and who we are can be gained from writing down our life stories," Dr. Richeson writes.  "... the gift of recording one's life story has gained respect and acceptance in university and clinical circles. For example, psychologists are beginning to understand the value of personal narratives in understanding growth and development."  Dr. Richeson recommends ways to incorporate autobiography writing into therapeutic recreation.

  3. Robert Butler Reviews Life Review

    in Aging Today


    Dr. Robert ButlerPulitzer Prize-winning doctor Robert N. Butler, a pioneer in gerontology, wrote that life review is an essential and healthy part of aging.  In this Aging Today article, he summarizes a presentation on the subject made at an American Society on Aging conference a few years before his death.  

    You may also want to check out The International Longevity Center, which Robert Butler founded.

  4. The Life Review Process in Later Adulthood: An Introduction

    By Linda Woolf, Webster University


    Linda Woolf, a professor of psychology of Webster University in St. Louis, Mo., has written a thorough and clear look at the research on life review and autobiography writing. 

  5. The Beneficial Effects of Life Story and Legacy Activities

    By Pat McNees

    Journal of Geriatric Care Management, Spring 2009


    Personal historians, who help others tell or write their stories, family stories or organization's stories, know firsthand how powerful the experience can be, Pat McNees writes.  It can improve the mood and quality of life for adults for both healthy and unhealthy adults.  McNees gives many examples of ways autobiography writing is used, from hospices to businesses.

  6. Memoirs and Memory

    By Frank Bruni

    Huffington Post, Sept. 16, 2009


    A telling essay on the different perspectives people bring to the same memories, written by the author of "Born Round: The Secret History of a Full-Time Eater."