Introducing Life Maps as Technique in a Social Group Work Programme for Young Adults Living With HIV/AIDS


Strydom, Herman; Herbst, Alida. Introducing life maps as technique in a social group work programme for young adults living with HIV/AIDS. Social Work/Maatskaplike Werk, [S.l.], v. 43, n. 3, jun. 2014. ISSN 2312-7198. Available at:


The first literature regarding life maps was found in a philosophy textbook dated 1909. The focus of this book was the individual’s life (the map of life) and the correlation with happiness and contentment throughout one’s life span. This book indicated many links with life maps as described in this study. The following interesting topics (Lecky, 1909) are worth mentioning: Happiness is a condition of the mind; Contentment and the desire for progress and self-growth should be balanced; Life actions should be guided; There is an ending to life—namely death. The map of life could describe one’s being from birth to death, emphasising different events, people, attitudes, choices, problems/difficulties and biological processes.

Life maps guide the individual on a journey through his/her life by focusing on the following seven questions:

  • WHO AM I? (Life Map 1)
  • WHERE HAVE I COME FROM? (Life Map 2)
  • WHERE AM I GOING? (Life Map 3)
  • WHAT IS STOPPING ME? (Life Map 4)
  • HOW WILL I GET THERE? (Life Map 5)
  • WHAT HELP DO I NEED? (Life Map 6)

Answers to the seven questions may be formulated in various creative ways, including writing, painting, drawing, clay sculpting, music, dancing or photo collages. From the author’s point of view, the most important aspect of this technique is that it does not stop with the past. It guides the individual to link the past to the present, but most importantly, urges the individual to focus on personal strengths and the future.