Guided Autobiography is the keystone of the Birren Center, but new courses have been created to complement and extend the reach of GAB and life story writing.


Guided Autobiography (GAB) helps individuals organize 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. Writing and sharing life stories with others is an ideal way to find new meaning in life as the uncertainties of the past, and the contradictions, paradoxes and events of life are put into perspective. Participants feel stronger and have a growing appreciation of their lives.



Guided Autobiography II (GAB II) is developed for participants who have completed GAB and wish to continue writing their life story. The purpose of GAB II is to expand upon the life themes of Guided Autobiography and to develop them into a framework for a more in-depth life story. The themes address the bigger questions in life such as: What has given my life purpose and value? Where am I going and how has my life prepared me for it? Our premise is that participants benefit by looking back into their lives, writing their life stories, and sharing them in a supportive atmosphere.



e-GAB offers the Guided Autobiography course in a distance-learning format through the Internet. Geographic mobility reduces opportunities for telling about personal events of growing up, maturing and growing older. The e-GAB project is designed to serve the need to organize and make available one’s life story by providing an online program for preparing one’s autobiography. 


Life Portfolio is designed to provide a context for individuals to review and plan their life investments. The principle goal of the course is to create a framework that enables participants to examine how they have invested themselves in the activities of life, their gains and losses, and to identify how they want to invest their lives in the future. This requires a review of how they have invested their energy, time, and concerns during their lifetime, and leads to a new plan for the future that reflects their goals and values.


Family History instructs and assists participants in locating, recalling and organizing the histories of their families. Participants are encouraged to look for lost family culture and traditions embedded in their histories. Students can then decide what to leave in the past, what to incorporate into the present, and what to leave for future generations.