Two weeks ago today I returned from Northern BC, where I had another amazing opportunity to work with Shared Care.
We were doing something called ‘Family Journey Mapping’. It’s a process in which an individual (or family/ies) has the opportunity to tell their story – how they have navigated a piece of their life, sometimes spanning many years.
I’ve been lucky enough to be involved in quite a few of these – a privilege that would never be taken lightly. There are usually very few people in the room: just the family or individual, some advocates/support people, the facilitator, graphic recorder, and any professionals who may have been part of the kinds of services that this person has accessed over time. The idea is that the person can tell their story with very little interruption or guidance.
It’s a tremendously powerful thing to witness.
It’s different in every single experience. Much like many things in graphic recording, I have to figure out a framework or container ahead of time (in consultation with the facilitator(s)). This one presented it’s own puzzle. We had the opportunity to hear from more than one family. We felt that the most realistic and privacy protecting way to do that was through composites. The Mom that I drew in the recording represented all parents, and the child represented all the children/youth.
Because we didn’t have a sense of how much would be contributed at different points, I pre-drew a girl at different ages (more than are shown here) on some heavy drawing paper (Canson 98lb mixed media paper with Neuland markers). I cut all the versions of her out, and had them ready, with tape on the back, to put on the large chart as seemed appropriate during the telling of the composite stories. I drew the Mom character on the spot over and over again, as needed.
This was a new way of working for me, and it allowed more time to get down the important things that were being said, trying to capture the feeling of room, of the families we were serving, and to be true to all the bits and pieces of their experiences over the past (sometimes 20) years.
This process of creating the character ahead of time also gave me time to get used to the idea of the composite, that this person was being co-created by the experiences of all the brave people in the room.
It’s a way of working that I’ll certainly try again – I could see using foam core or card for dimensional elements, especially ones that are vehicle or machine based.
The Journey Map itself? It belongs to Shared Care. It’s a living document of real, human experience. The good people there take the custody of that very seriously and use the information learned to shift and change the way services are accessed or provided with an eye to better, more efficient and effective care.
Tonight I am grateful for the work.