Online GAB Instructor Training offers in-depth training for those who want to earn extra income by teaching Guided Autobiography courses. The distance-learning format through the Internet makes live instructor training available to individuals all over the world. Participants write and share their own two-page life stories on GAB themes throughout the 8-week program while learning how to develop, schedule, publicize and run GAB groups within their own communities.


What is Guided Autobiography?

Guided Autobiography (GAB) is a method for helping people document their life stories. Guided by a trained instructor, participants are led through themes and priming questions that evoke memories of events once known but filed away and seemingly forgotten. Each participant writes a story on a particular theme each week, brings the story to class and reads it to a small group of receptive classmates. Writing and sharing life stories with others is an ideal way to find new meaning in life and to put life events into perspective. While connecting with one another on their journeys of self-discovery, participants feel enlivened by the group experience and gain a greater appreciation of their own lives and of the lives of others. GAB can be a powerful catalyst for improved self-esteem, self-confidence and communication within communities and within families.


What will be covered

  • You’ll receive in-depth training on how to conduct your own Guided Autobiography courses. Each class session is 3 hours in length providing you with a total of 24 hours of advanced instruction and group experience.

  • Throughout the program, you will learn by doing. You’ll write a two-page life story on a given theme each week and you’ll read your story out loud to your classmates online.

Upon finishing the GAB Instructor Training Program, you’ll receive a certificate of completion.


Your Instructors

Cheryl Svensson, Ph.D. is an experienced GAB instructor who worked directly with James Birren for many years. Cheryl has taught college courses in the Autobiographical Studies Program at the University of Southern California’s (USC) School of Gerontology. After the training you’ll be well-qualified to teach the proven GAB method that is recognized throughout the world. Contact her for more information:

Wendy Bancroft, M.A.  Another Birren Center GAB Instructor Trainer is Wendy Bancroft who brings some 40 years of experience to her training role. She has been a journalist with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, a writer and editor, a documentary filmmaker with her own company, and a senior researcher in two national research organizations. Wendy has been leading groups as a certified GAB Instructor for four years in her home, in the classroom, and online. To learn more about Wendy, visit her website at Wendy's next classes will begin September 16th 1:30pm to 4:30pm (PDT), and September 17th, 9:30am to 12:30pm (PDT). Contact her for more information:

Pamela Hueckel, M.A., M.A.T., a GAB instructor trainer, has led GAB groups since 2014, teaching in the classroom, in students’ homes and online.  She has also facilitated half-day workshops and hosted GAB parties.  As a GAB instructor, Pam combines her extensive professional teaching experience with a lifelong love of hearing and recording personal stories.  After obtaining a Masters’ in Teaching she settled into her 20-year teaching career.  Since childhood Pam has followed the trail of her ancestors through genealogical research and, while caring for her aging parents, helped her father write his life story. Pam’s Fall 2019 course will meet on Wednesdays, October 9 - December 4, 9:00 am - 12:00 pm (PDT).  There will be no class on November 27.  Contact her for more information: or 909-670-8239.


Online Instruction

The program is provided entirely online, so you will be completing it in the comfort of your own home. Classes will be instructed live through a user-friendly, interactive website. You will simply log onto the website at the appointed time, enter your assigned pin number and you’ll instantly be in class. In the interactive program you’ll be able to ask questions while engaging with the instructor and other students. The class sizes are limited so be sure to sign up early.


Technical Requirements

In order for you to see and hear the instructors and other students, and for them to be able to see and hear you, you will need a few tools.

  • Internet Access: You’ll need a computer with Internet access.

  • Headset: You will need a headset with a microphone.

  • Webcam: Finally, you’ll need a webcam.


What is included with the training?

  • You’ll participate in a comprehensive program comprising 24 hours of instruction by experienced Guided Autobiography instructor Dr. Cheryl Svensson.

  • You’ll receive all of the teaching materials used during the 8 sessions of training to be used for teaching your own GAB courses.

  • In addition to the online class time, you’re free to email the instructor with any questions that may arise in between sessions.

  • After you complete your training, the Birren Center will continue to provide support as you launch your own GAB course. This is a valuable resource that is not usually available with most training courses.


What is the cost of the Program?

Our goal is to train instructors so that Guided Autobiography can be made available to as many people as possible. Through our growing network of highly trained GAB instructors, thousands worldwide have experienced the power of writing and sharing their life stories. The tuition for the 8 session Guided Autobiography Instructor Training Program has been set at $450.

Payments may be made safely with a credit or debit card through our secure PayPal service, the largest and most reliable online payment center in the world.


Next Courses

Training classes are ongoing.  Please contact for new class offerings.