Before the interviews, clients select the questions they want asked so they have time to consider what they want to say. Open-ended questions allow for greater freedom in responses and assist with the recall of one’s stories. Questions typically address either memories about one’s life history or questions about personal values.
Sample Life History Questions
How was life different when you were growing up?
What were your courtship experiences?
What is the most courageous thing you’ve ever done?
What have been the happiest times in your life?
Tell about an adventure you had.
Sample Value Questions
What do you hold sacred in life?
What do you feel is the meaning of life?
What are your deepest values?
What are the wisest things you do?
How do you raise children with good values?
I believe listening is powerful medicine…. What matters to the storyteller is that the story is heard —without interruption, assumption or judgment. Listening to someone’s story costs less than expensive diagnostic testing but is key to healing and diagnosis…. I know firsthand that immeasurable healing takes place within me when someone stops, sits down and listens to my story.
—Alicia Conill, Feb. 1, 2009, “This I Believe,” National Public Radio