Life review: implementation, theory, research, and therapy

Int J Aging Hum Dev. 2006;63(2):153-71. doi: 10.2190/DA9G-RHK5-N9JP-T6CC.


A selective literature review of publications on life review generated ideas on implementation, theory, research, and therapy. The review begins by differentiating life review from reminiscence, and summarizing ways to conduct a life review. A dozen theories that have been influenced by the life review technique are presented, with a focus placed on Erikson's Stages of Psychosocial Development. Erikson's theory has not only been influenced by the life review, it has had a major impact on life review research. Three research topics are discussed: Erikson's ego integrity versus despair in old age, demographical differences in the practice of life reviews, and the impact of conducting life reviews on staff in institutional settings. Most practitioners of life reviews are institutional staff, university students, and family members, many of whom have had limited prior training. The prospect of a certified life review training program is discussed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Life Change Events*
  • Mental Recall*
  • Models, Psychological*