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Become a
Guided Autobiography (GAB) Instructor

Complete the comprehensive training program
in just 8 online sessions

Taught by Cheryl Svensson, PhD


What is Guided Autobiography?

Guided Autobiography (GAB) has been researched and developed by Dr. James Birren over the past 30 years as 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 two-page 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.

For more information, send Cheryl an e-mail.

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 signed by Dr. Birren and your instructor.

Your Instructor

Cheryl Svensson is anexperienced GAB instructor who have been working directly with James Birren for many years. Cheryl co-teaches college courses with Dr. Birren in the Autobiographical Studies Program at the University of Southern California’s (USC) School of Gerontology. You’ll actually hear about the GAB method from Dr. Birren himself via video. You can be assured that you’ll have a very experienced team to guide you on your journey of self discovery, and you’ll be well-qualified to teach the proven GAB method that is recognized throughout the world. In fact Dr. Birren and his team have traveled to many states and countries sharing the GAB vision and personally training GAB instructors. Now, with advanced online technology, we can bring this comprehensive training program to you right in your own home.

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 instructors 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.

    1. Internet Access: You’ll need a computer with internet access.
    2. Headset: You will need a headset with a microphone.
    3. Webcam: Finally, you’ll need a webcam.

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What is included with the training?

  1. You’ll participate in a comprehensive program comprising 24 hours of instruction by experienced Guided Autobiography trainer Cheryl Svensson.
  2. You’ll be using the 200-page textbook: Telling the Stories of Life through Guided Autobiography Groups by James E. Birren and Kathryn N. Cochran.
  3. As a special bonus, you will receive the new DVD: Guided Autobiography in which James Birren will explain the process and GAB themes. This DVD will be an invaluable resource for you to review the GAB method as explained by the master himself, or for you to show in segments in your own GAB courses.
  4. Throughout the 8 sessions of training in the two courses, you’ll receive by email all of the handouts for teaching your own GAB courses. Upon completion of the courses, you’ll have all the handouts you’ll need for teaching your own GAB classes.
  5. In addition to the online class time, you’ll be able to email the instructor with any questions that may arise in between classes.
  6. After you complete your training, the Birren Center will continue to provide support via email as you launch your own GAB course. This is a valuable resource that is not usually available with most training courses.
  7. Upon successfully finishing the GAB Instructor Training Program, you’ll receive a certificate of completion suitable for framing which confirms that you are a trained Guided Autobiography Instructor. The certificate is awarded by The Birren Autobiographical Studies Program and is personally signed by James Birren and your instructor, Cheryl Svensson.


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.


Current course is now full. Please check back soon for information on our next class in March 2016!

If you have any questions, please contact Cheryl Svensson at

We look forward to having you become one of our Guided Autobiography Instructors!