Meaning interventions in schools: Strategies for supporting healthy development and wellbeing in the lives of youth

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Jessica L Morse
Maeve B. O’Donnell
Arissa R. Walberg
Bryan J. Dik

Abstract

Human beings inherently make meaning of the world, interpreting themselves in context and utilizing these representations to determine what to think, how to feel, and in what way to act. Developing meaning in life appears to be a highly nuanced, personal journey and yet, research suggests that those who experience their lives as meaningful enjoy multiple physical and psychological benefits and are protected from various health risks. Beyond establishing a firm sense that life is meaningful, studies suggest that people of all ages who can ‘make meaning’ of their experiences, especially difficult experiences, may be protected from developing some mental and physical health concerns. Childhood and adolescence may be pivotal periods for the development of this well-being resource, and school offers an especially promising context for fostering meaning. Yet, there have been few articles that have explored how meaning and meaning-making can be woven into the school day. The current article attempts to address this gap in the literature by defining meaning and meaning-making, discussing the relevance of meaning from a developmental framework, and offering suggestions for applications for teachers and providers during the school day.

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Author Biography

Jessica L Morse, Colorado State University

Ph.D. student in Counseling Psychology