Research Publications

“It’s Like the Pieces of a Puzzle That You Know”: Research Interviews With People Who Inject Drugs Using the Vidaview Life Story Board

FQS: Forum: Qualitative Social ResearchVolume 21, No. 3, Art. 5 – September 2020

John V. Flynn, Claire E. Kendall, Lisa M. Boucher, Michael L. Fitzgerald, Katharine Larose-Hébert, Alana Martin, Christine Lalonde, Dave Pineau,
Jenn Bigelow, Tiffany Rose, Rob Boyd, Mark Tyndall & Zack Marshall


The Life Story Board (LSB) is a visual tool used in therapeutic circumstances to co-construct a lifescape that represents the personal, relational and temporal aspects of a person’s lived experiences. We conducted a study of the drug use and harm reduction experiences of people who inject drugs through research interviews using the LSB to determine whether it has the potential to enhance qualitative research. Our team included community researchers who were current or former drug users and academic researchers. Interviews were conducted by two community researchers: an interviewer and a storyboarder who populated the LSB.

Results showed that interviewers and participants interacted with the LSB in different ways. The board functioned to situate the interviewers in the interview schedule, whereas participants often used the board as a way to validate or reinforce their life story. Participants expressed a variety of emotional and cognitive responses to the board. Overall, the LSB helped participants focus on their life story to recall specific occasions or incidents and enabled them to gain perspective and make greater sense of their lives. Both participants and interviewers engaged with the LSB in nuanced ways that enabled them to work together to represent the participant’s life story.

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“Life Story Board: An Innovative Visual Interview Tool in Healthcare” A 2019 MED Summer Research Project, LSB pilot study in mental health and addiction settings 


The verbal interview is routinely used in the settings of mental health and addictions therapy, however, barriers of literacy, culture, sensitive disclosure, poor client engagement and attention may interfere. Developed as an alternative, the Life Story Board (LSB) is an interview tool that uses a visual board to accompany conversation to help elicit information, enhance sharing, and confer insight in ways not achievable by verbal means alone. This primarily qualitative pilot study aimed to explore the LSB’s potential utility in the settings of mental health and addictions counselling, which to date is largely unstudied.

15 counselling sessions using the LSB were conducted with 6 counselors and 13 clients in three mental health or residential addictions programs. Feedback on the usefulness of the LSB in the three settings was collected in the form of client and counsellor questionnaires and post-series follow-up interviews with counselors. An analysis of the emerging themes was conducted.

Across the three pilot sites both clients and counsellors saw the use of the LSB as favorable. The findings support that in the settings of mental health and addictions therapy, the LSB plays a positive role in patient engagement, expression, and information sharing, and is thus potentially beneficial to the outcome of these patients.

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“A Graphic and Tactile Data Elicitation Tool for Qualitative Research: The Life Story Board”

FQS: Forum: Qualitative Social Research May 2019 Vol 20, No. 2

Javier Mignone, Robert M. Chase & Kerstin Stieber Roger

Abstract: Data collection methods for qualitative research are varied and have a rich history. The Life Story Board (LSB) is a game board-like tool that is used to construct a visual representation of a person’s narrative and his/her related context. In our study, we comparatively assessed the LSB as a data elicitation tool for social science research. We reviewed eight Canadian research projects that have used the LSB as data elicitation tool for qualitative research and assessed the LSB on the feasibility of its use, on its effectiveness to elicit information, on aspects that facilitate and/or hinder its use, and how it compares with conventional interview approaches. Our findings suggest that the LSB can be used with study participants of different gender, age, ethnicity, and life circumstances; that it is effective as a data elicitation tool, and that it facilitates engagement with interviewees, without presenting any major hindrances. Read the full article here

Key words: Life Story Board; data elicitation; interview; diagrammatic elicitation; visual elicitation; data collection


“The Life Story Board: A Task-Oriented Research Tool to Explore Children’s Perspectives of Well-Being”

Ashley Stewart-Tufescu & Elizabeth Huynh & Robert Chase & Javier Mignone

Child Ind Res 

Abstract:  A multinational study to understand well-being from children’s perspec- tives in the Children’s Worlds International Survey of Children’s Well-being (ISCWeB) recently undertook qualitative analytical research to explore children’s conceptualization of well-being in Children’s Understanding of Well-being (CUWB). This has challenged researchers to utilize methods that are meaningful and engaging, child-centred and balance children’s rights to participation and protection, and are practical and time-expedient. The paper describes the findings from a qualitative investigation of a task-oriented research tool, the Vidaview Life Story Board (LSB), used to explore school-age children’s understanding of well- being. Twenty-one children between 8 and 12 years of age from the Canadian pilot of the CUWB were interviewed using the LSB. The children and the interviewer were asked to assess their experience with the LSB. Results suggested that children found the LSB to be engaging and helpful to facilitate their articu- lation of subjective well-being. The main themes that emerged were: autonomy and inclusiveness; validation of children’s experiences and agency; and child- centred approach. The findings suggest that the LSB seems to be a promising participatory, child-centred, rights-based qualitative research tool.

Keywords: Child well-being; subjective well-being, Children’s rights, Task-oriented methods,  Child-centred

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“The Life Story Board as a Tool for Qualitative Research: Interviews With HIV-Positive Indigenous Males”

Meck Chongo, Robert M. Chase, Josee G. Lavoie, H. G. Harder, and Javier Mignone

International Journal of Qualitative Methods, Volume 17: 1–10 (2018)

Abstract: Within the context of a study about the lived experiences of Indigenous males living with HIV in Vancouver, Canada, we explored the utilization of an innovative method of collecting the narratives of study participants. This article describes and assesses the use of the Life Story Board (LSB) as a potentially rich interview tool for qualitative research and explores the process, as well as its advantages and challenges. The LSB uses sets of cards, markers, and notation on a play board to create a visual representation of a verbal narration about someone’s life situation or story. Five study participants took part in a conventional face-to-face interview and 4 months later were interviewed with the use of the LSB. These study participants were asked toward the end of the LSB session about their experience of being interviewed with and without the LSB. Data were also gathered from the interviewers’ experience. The findings suggested that the LSB offers interesting opportunities when used in qualitative research. Study parti- cipants found it to facilitate a reflective and more in-depth narration of their lived experience. The interviewer’s perspective for the most part corroborated these observations. Read the full article here

Keywords: research interview, Life Story Board, qualitative interviews, life experience narratives, qualitative research tool

“A Novel Visual Tool to Assist Therapy Clients’ Narrative and to Disclose Difficult Life Events: The Life Story Board”

 María Fernanda Medina-Munoz, Rob Chase, Kerstin Roger, Carla Loeppky, Javier Mignone, 2016

Journal of Systemic Therapies, Vol. 35, No. 1, 2016, pp. 21–38 

Abstract: This article describes an innovative play board and kit called the Vidaview Life Story Board (LSB) that combines features of the genogram, eco-map, and timeline for use with therapy clients. The goal of this study was to explore and understand the experience of clients and therapists during and after therapy sessions using the LSB, with particular focus on the disclosure of difficult life events. The LSB is a visual interview tool that uses a colorful board, sets of cards, markers, and a notation system to construct a multidi- mensional view of a person’s life situation. The board facilitates the “translation” of narrative life stories into a “life-scape representation” through a process of co-construction between the client and the therapist. Methods: The study took place in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, in 2013 and involved the staff of a counseling program in a non-profit community health center that provides services to inner city residents. Clients were mostly newcomer Canadians, First Nations, and Métis. The study collected qualitative data in interviews and focus groups from clients (n = 7) and therapists (n = 8). Findings: Clients created a visual representation of their difficult life events and experiences in an organized way in a process of co-construction with the therapists, achieving effective communication. Its contrast to other visual methods used in psychotherapy was reviewed. The LSB facilitated clients’ disclosure and gave them personal relief by depicting a number of factors that affected their lives. However, further research with a larger number of participants is required to better understand the process by which the LSB, as a visual tool, assists clients and therapists during sessions. Read the full article here.

“The Life Story Board: A Feasibility Study of a Visual Interview Tool for School Counsellors”

Robert M. Chase, María Fernanda Medina, Javier Mignone, 2012

The Canadian Journal of Counselling and Psychotherapy, Volume 46, #3  August 2012

The study was a feasibility assessment of a prototype version of the Life Story Board with school counsellors in Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada.  In this small qualitative study, six LSB-trained school counsellors held 20 sessions with newcomer immigrant students; methods included: series of user focus groups, session feedback forms and student follow up interviews. Results confirmed the process facilitated rapport and elicited useful information, and that LSB methods are suitable for assessment and interventions common to schools.

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The article describes the findings of a pilot study of the Life Story Board (LSB), a novel visual information system with a play board and sets of magnetic cards designed to be a practical clinical tool for counsellors, therapists, and researchers. The LSB is similar to a multidimensional genogram, and serves as a platform to depict personal narrative information and catalyze verbal and nonverbal approaches in assessment and therapy. A prototype version of the LSB was pilot-tested to assess its clinical feasibility for school counsellors in Winnipeg, Manitoba, working for the most part with newcomer immigrants. Results confirmed that the visual participatory process facilitated rapport with students and elicited useful information. LSB methods may be well suited to assessment and interventions common to schools and in diverse therapeutic and assessment applications.

“Life Story Board: A Tool in the Prevention of Domestic Violence”

R. Chase, J. Mignone, L. Diffey, 2010
Pimatisiwin Journal of Aboriginal and Indigenous Community Health, Volume 8, #2


The high rate of domestic violence in Aboriginal communities points to the need to explore new ways of understanding how this violence occurs in its context and to seek new and creative ways of preventing the perpetuation of this vicious cycle. The Life Story Board (LSB) is a game board with sets of cards, markers, and a notation system with which to construct a visual representation of someone’s life experience at personal, family, and community levels. Initially invented as an interview tool in an expressive art program for war-affected children, the LSB has broader potential for use by those working with youth, adults, and families in a variety of contexts, and as a tool for program evaluation and applied research. This article describes LSB methods and how they may apply in the context of Canadian First Nations, Inuit, and Métis community efforts to respond to, understand, and prevent domestic violence.

“The Life Story Board: Pictorial Assessment Methods
for Canadian School Counsellors”

R. Chase, J. Mignone and M.F. Medina, 2010

Final Report to the Winnipeg School Division of the 2010 study of the feasibility of Life Story Board methods for use by school counsellors  and social workers in newcomer immigrant students. The project was funded by University of Manitoba University Research Grants Program


Butterfly Peace Garden, Batticaloa, Sri Lanka

  • Book excerpt  about the Butterfly Peace Garden’s approach to healing
    and the ‘Amma Appa Game’  –  the early version of the Life Story Board (10 pages)

Pilot testing Life Story Board methods with War Child Canada
in Northern Uganda (February 2007)

“The Life Story Board: a pictorial approach to psychosocial interviews of children in difficult circumstances”

R Chase, 2008

[written as a monograph based on a presentation at the May 16-17, 2008 Conference on War, Immigration and Trauma, CPAD/ Child Psychotherapies Program, Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto Ontario]