The Experience of Participants in Therapeutic Storytelling Group/Te Roopu Pakiwaitara Who Live With a Mental Illness in the Community: A Qualitative Descriptive Study
Abstract This qualitative descriptive study sought to answer the question “Does storytelling/pakiwaitara programme change participants’ life experiences in their journey of recovery?” This programme was initially established to engage and support clients’ recovery in the community mental health team where the researcher works. The aim of the programme in this research was to provide a safe environment to increase participants engagement with their teams and the community. It was hoped this study could produce evidence from practice that would unfold greater understandings about this kind of programme. A thorough literature review was performed revealing paucity in the literature about this topic. Qualitative descriptive methodology was selected for this study which sits under the umbrella of the post positivist paradigm, which seeks to understand what is like to be human, and the meaning of people’s live and experiences. Eight participants were recruited for this study, through an invitation given by a peer support worker. Participants lived and were selected from the Counties Manukau Mental Health services, New Zealand. Participants were of different ethnic origin but mainly Maaori. Semi-structured interviews were carried out and lasted approximate 45 minutes to an hour, interviews were recorded and transcribed verbatim. The transcribed data were analysed using thematic coding. Rich descriptions of participants’ experiences emerged. Three main themes emerged from the analysis. The first theme was breaking barriers and was described, by participants as how they overcame barriers to attend to the programme. The second theme was creating positive memories, which uncovered the positive experiences that participants experienced during the programme. The final theme was becoming another person; this theme described transformative experiences that emerged from the data through language, feelings, hope, privilege, honour and inspirations that participants shared especially through participation in the programme. Strengths and limitations, of the study and suggestions for future research are identified. Findings of this research demonstrated that participating in storytelling/pakiwaitara does help participants who live with mental illnesses in their journey of recovery by: breaking barriers, creating positive memories and experiencing another way of being.