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      The journey of sensemaking and identity construction in the aftermath of trauma: Peer support as a vehicle for coconstruction

      , MSc , 1

      Journal of Community Psychology

      John Wiley and Sons Inc.

      community, humans, interpersonal relations, observation, peer group, trauma, victimization

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          Sensemaking is rooted in identity construction and it is a particularly interpersonal process. Moreover, traumatic experiences are known to cause people to engage in sensemaking processes and identity construction. However, knowledge of how this works in an interpersonal, community setting, is lacking. The aim of this study is to assess how peer support contributes to the sensemaking processes and identity construction in the aftermath of trauma. Data from an observational study of organised peer support groups for (co)victims of serious crimes and survivors of traumatic loss were analysed using inductive thematic analysis. Results show how participants of peer support groups move through several phases of sensemaking and identity construction in a fluid, dynamic, way. Identity work is collectively done. Through coconstruction of their identities, participants are able to make sense of a traumatic experience and progress towards a more self‐aware and self‐centred identity.

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          Most cited references 33

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          Making sense of the meaning literature: an integrative review of meaning making and its effects on adjustment to stressful life events.

           Sungshim Park (2010)
          Interest in meaning and meaning making in the context of stressful life events continues to grow, but research is hampered by conceptual and methodological limitations. Drawing on current theories, the author first presents an integrated model of meaning making. This model distinguishes between the constructs of global and situational meaning and between "meaning-making efforts" and "meaning made," and it elaborates subconstructs within these constructs. Using this model, the author reviews the empirical research regarding meaning in the context of adjustment to stressful events, outlining what has been established to date and evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of current empirical work. Results suggest that theory on meaning and meaning making has developed apace, but empirical research has failed to keep up with these developments, creating a significant gap between the rich but abstract theories and empirical tests of them. Given current empirical findings, some aspects of the meaning-making model appear to be well supported but others are not, and the quality of meaning-making efforts and meanings made may be at least as important as their quantity. This article concludes with specific suggestions for future research.
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                Author and article information

                J Community Psychol
                J Community Psychol
                Journal of Community Psychology
                John Wiley and Sons Inc. (Hoboken )
                10 May 2020
                August 2020
                : 48
                : 6 ( doiID: 10.1002/jcop.v48.6 )
                : 1825-1839
                [ 1 ] Victim Support the Netherlands & Netherlands Institute for the Study of Crime and Law Enforcement (NSCR: Nederlands Studiecentrum voor Criminaliteit en Rechtshandhaving) De Boelelaan 1077 Amsterdam 1081 HV The Netherlands
                Author notes
                [* ] Correspondence Pien van de Ven, Victim Support the Netherlands, Netherlands Institute for the Study of Crime and Law Enforcement (NSCR: Nederlands Studiecentrum voor Criminaliteit en Rechtshandhaving). Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

                Email: pvandeven@

                © 2020 The Authors. Journal of Community Psychology published by Wiley Periodicals LLC

                This is an open access article under the terms of the License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                Page count
                Figures: 0, Tables: 1, Pages: 15, Words: 8919
                Research Article
                Research Articles
                Custom metadata
                August 2020
                Converter:WILEY_ML3GV2_TO_JATSPMC version:5.9.0 mode:remove_FC converted:11.09.2020


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