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Stories of Being and Becoming: Experiences of Hope and Identity-Making in the Worklives of Reintegration Counsellors Open Access


Other title
Qualitative Inquiry
Narrative Inquiry
Identity Making
Being and Becoming
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Flesaker, Keri D
Supervisor and department
Dr. Denise Larsen (Educational Psychology)
Examining committee member and department
Dr. Sharon Moore
Dr. George Buck
Dr. D Jean Clandinin
Dr. Vera Caine
Dr. William Whelton
Department of Educational Psychology
Counselling Psychology
Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
Working with marginalized individuals allows counsellors to witness the darkest and most beautiful sides of humanity as they support clients in the process of life change. Community-based reintegration counsellors are helping professionals who offer support to individuals who are transitioning from correctional facilities into the community. Through the research puzzle central to this narrative inquiry (Clandinin & Connelly, 2000), I explored, “What are the experiences of identity-making for reintegration counsellors?” And, “What stories do they tell about who they hope to be and become in relation to their work with individuals on parole and probation?” Four community-based reintegration counsellors, including myself as a former reintegration counsellor, engaged in the process of narrative inquiry to co-compose narrative accounts and build understanding of our experiences. Narrative inquiry is based in an understanding of experience informed by the work of John Dewey (1938) and grounded upon the view that human beings, both individually and socially, lead storied lives (Connelly & Clandinin, 2006). Drawing upon this understanding, I acknowledge that individuals shape their lives through the stories that they tell and the stories that are told about themselves and others. The literature review focuses on narrative conceptions of identity and hope, in line with the theoretical approaches that underpin this inquiry. Narrative understandings of identity, or stories to live by (Connelly & Clandinin, 1999), emphasize that identity evolves over time, in relationships with oneself, others, and the environment. Narrative identity-making emphasizes the individual as the active composer of identity through experience, in relation to larger social, cultural, institutional and temporal narratives (Clandinin, Steeves, & Caine, 2013; Connelly & Clandinin, 1999). Using the term stories to live by, Connelly and Clandinin (1999) assert that understanding professional practice in narrative terms cannot be separated from the development of identity. Field texts were co-composed through research conversations, autobiographical writing, the co-creation of visual artifacts, and research journaling. Field texts were analyzed through an ongoing process of reading, rereading, and reflection while wakefully attending to the three-dimensional narrative inquiry space (Clandinin & Connelly, 2000). The understandings co-composed through this inquiry are discussed in relation to relevant academic literature on caring and compassion, vocational calling, narrative identity-making, hope, compassion fatigue, burnout, self-compassion, and compassion satisfaction. Finally, the manuscript closes with recommendations for professional practice, limitations, and points for readers to consider before drawing understandings into other contexts, including the situated nature of the inquiry.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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