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Psychology and Psychotherapy: Research Study

Narrative and Meaning of Life: How Mental Health Nurses can Respond

  • Open or Close Jan Sitvast*

    Senior Lecturer, University of Applied Sciences, Netherlands

    *Corresponding author: Jan Sitvast, Senior Lecturer at University of Applied Sciences, Hogeschool Heidelberglaan 7, 3584CS Utrecht, The Netherlands

Submission: February 28, 2018;Published: March 28, 2018

DOI: 10.31031/PPRS.2018.01.000503

ISSN 2639-0612
Volume1 Issue1


What is already known about the subject?

A. There are quite a number of studies on narrative and recovery, but few which combine them with emotional intelligence and skills nurses must have to respond to service users’ narrative

B. How a credible internal and external representation of reality is a necessary condition for humans to adapt to the contingencies of life is known from evolutionary biology, but has not yet been related to nurses’ responses to service users’ narrative

What does this paper add to existing knowledge?

A. An integration of concepts and theory from different domains of knowledge and relating them to the praxis of recovery and recovery oriented nursing

B. The central role of meaning giving processes as part of the internal representation and self-image of service users

C. Insight in how concrete and palpable/visual representations facilitate giving and receiving feedback from (relevant) others and can be considered instrumental in creating a working alliance between the care professional and the client

What are the implications for practice?

Awareness is necessary that reflection on the meaning of one’s life, the choices one has to make must be represented in order that others (e.g. nurses) can share these representations or narratives with someone and respond to them. When these representations take on a more palpable and visually form this can be considered helpful


The article is about how people use narratives to make meaning from their experiences when tackling the impact on their lives and the consequences of mental health problems. It also goes into recovery and how recovery involves the development of new meaning and purpose in one’s life. The article describes how ‘man’ is involved in a constant interaction with his environment, adapting himself as well as possible to that environment in order to upkeep his own biological system. Using his cognitive capacities a person can make an internal representation of reality that also encompasses how one relates to reality. It is argued that there is a need for a story about oneself and one’s relationship with the world that represents one’s intentions, goals and values in a credible way. The article describes how nurses can respond to service users’ narrative. We will argue that visualization of someone’s narrative contributes to a shared narrative and will stimulate further reflection on the things that are important in life.

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