Working With Timelines In Therapy


Timelines in therapy can be an effective tool for you to give a ”summary” of key events in your life in a creative way. We all kinda know this happened, then that happened but oh yeah and that happened as well. There is something really powerful in seeing it all mapped out in front of you and adding things that you had nearly forgotten or thought they had no relevance to who you are now, or you didn’t think they had any impact on you. This is something I think is really powerful for clients to start off with in therapy, if of course they are happy doing so. It gives us both a chance to acknowledge and explore their key life events so far. Timelines in therapy can make clients aware of events that they may have forgotten about or not realised were connected to how they were feeling. It can really evoke see your whole life there in front of you. It can release some powerful emotions – so if you are going to do this activity on your own make sure you are in a safe environment.

Types of timelines – felt pens and paper.  

My personal favourite is a roll of paper and coloured felt pens. For me personally this makes me feel free and childlike whilst I draw – through symbols, words, numbers, pictures and explore my key life events. Some people use a structure such as river, tree, road to map out their life whilst highlighting key events. Some just use a horizontal line, marking key events. Others are happy just to freestyle and really enjoy the process.

If you have access to creative material’s, then of course these can assist the creative process of exploring. I loved these sticky on eyes – they really helped me release emotions that I didn’t know were stored. Just the simple process of sticking these funny eyes to key events helped release emotions and I was able to move on from points I didn’t even know I had been stuck on or had sat quietly festering. The great thing with paper is sometimes you  may want to look at this timeline through the therapy process or even want to take it away with them. Or then again you might just want to rip it all up!


using minitures in therapy

Timelines using miniature’s

Some clients may feel intimidated by a glaring piece of white empty paper and that can be quiet frightening for them. They might not like drawing. Perhaps they don’t want their life key events there in a drawing, on a piece of paper – as proof. That’s when using knitting wool and miniature’s is another great way to express a person’s timeline. Nor is it messy and can be tidied away at the end of a session with the client always having the option of a photograph being taken of the timeline which the therapist can keep.


Therapy is an individual process

Therapy really is an individual process and there is no right or wrong way to use timelines in the therapy process. I always use tools and creative mediums based on the client’s preference. There’s no point me asking you to use words if you prefer drawing. Or to offer you drawing materials if you prefer words. But also by offering different ways to do the same thing – you may be tempted to push yourself out of your comfort zone, which in itself can be inspiring.

timelines using wool and minitures

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