Skip to content
Please donate

What is Reminiscence?

People define reminiscence in different ways, but two widely accepted definitions are: 'Reminiscence is the act or process of recalling the past’ (Butler, 1963) and 'the process or practice of thinking or talking about past experience' (Romaniuk & Romaniuk,1981).

Psychologists such as Mike Bender, Peter Coleman, Jeffrey Garland, Andrew Norris and Bob Woods have concluded that reminiscence is ‘a guided and structured form of self-exploration, a means to explaining and reviewing a life through personal accounting.’ (Bornat,1994).

Why Encourage Reminiscence Work?

Faith Gibson (2011), RNNI’s President, writes ‘Growing is a lifetime experience. People, whatever their age, can continue to grow and develop provided they experience the right nurturing conditions…..To understand why someone is as they are now … it is necessary to know something about what has gone before and what meanings the person attaches to their life experience in the present. This means learning to listen to people’s stories, to what is said, and also unsaid ­­– to become finely tuned so as to be able to read the spaces or silences between the words.’ (p.19)

Levy and Orlans (1998) state that identity formation is based on the indivdual’s experiences, interpretation of those experiences, others’ reactions to the individual and the significant role models the individual identifies with.

Rose and Philpot (2005) contend ‘The past is never past’. We cannot dismiss, ignore or obliterate the past… is important how we deal with our past so that it neither inhibits or prevents us enjoying life in the present or the future.

John F. Kennedy (1960) said, ‘We celebrate the past to awaken the future!’

Best Practice Manual

This best practice manual provides guidance for Creative Reminiscence and Life Story Work, based on the experience of the Reminiscence Facilitators work in Northern Ireland.

Download Best Practice Manual (PDF)


Last updated: Jul 10 2018

Become part of our story

Sign up today

Back to top