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

  • Author / Creator
    Flesaker, Keri D
  • 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.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2015
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.