Self-Change in Facilitating Empowerment
Applying a Narrative Perspective to Adolescents with a Mental Health Diagnosis
Youth empowerment is a critical research area because it has implications for reducing adolescent mental health stigma while improving their life trajectory, engagement in treatment and meaningful opportunities, and increasing self-esteem. The present inquiry is derived from a larger study and strives to enhance knowledge of youth empowerment by using Frank’s rhetoric of self-change—a form of narrative analysis—to understand events and reactive experiences of illness as occasions for changing the self. This narrative approach facilitated the development of a youth empowerment process because of its ability to identify similar characteristics across the three cases of youths included in this analysis. Actively participating in age/developmentally appropriate activities put the adolescents on a trajectory towards attaining milestones in a timely manner coinciding with the developmental timeline of peers without mental health issues. Additional research is needed to understand how the identified factors promote empowerment among adolescents with mental health issues. Narrative research has implications for clinical social work because it illuminates strengths that can be beneficial in promoting positive interventions.
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