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Health Forum Online    The Psychologist's Source for C.E. Credits Online

An Ethical and Socio-cultural Exploration of Meaning-making and its Association to Chronic Illness: Cognitive and Narrative Approaches

by Pagona Roussi, PhD & Evrinomi Avdi, PhD 4 CE Credits

This course reviews the concept of “meaning-making” in the context of chronic illness from two different perspectives: the cognitive and the narrative approach. First, a discussion of meaning and chronic illness from the cognitive perspective is provided including an examination of how meaning-making has been conceptualized, a presentation of descriptive findings on the forms meaning-making takes when coping with a chronic illness, a review of the sociodemographic and medical correlates of meaning-making in the context of a chronic illness, and a summary of the empirical findings regarding the possible association between meaning-making and adaptation to disease. Second, the narrative therapeutic approach will be outlined. Specifically, issues relating to the temporal dimension in illness narratives, the biographical disruption and identity reconstruction associated with a chronic illness, the surrounding ethics and moral dimension of the illness experience, and finally the role of social context on illness narratives will be presented. Lastly, the potential for distinct, and/or collaborative, ethical use of these two techniques in the clinical setting is discussed.


This online course is approved for APA CE credit, NBCC CE clock hours and ASWB Clinical CE clock hours. NYSED CEs are NOT approved for this online course.


Course Sections/Outline:

  • Overview
  • What is Meaning-making?
  • Cognitive Approaches
  • Meaning-making: Process or Outcome
  • Positive vs. Negative Meaning-making: Empirical Evidence
  • Underlying Mechanisms of Meaning-making
  • Meaning-making and Adaptation to Disease
  • Narrative Approaches
  • Temporality
  • Biographical Disruption and Identity Reconstruction
  • Morality
  • Social Context
  • Summary
  • References

Learning Objectives:

After completing this course, health professionals will be able to:
  • Summarize prominent psychosocial theories that underlie the concept of “meaning-making” in the context of chronic illness from two therapeutic perspectives: cognitive and narrative approaches.
  • Identify at least 6 possible patient-based factors that influence meaning-making and adaptation to disease, including self-perception, values, goals, self-efficacy, interpersonal relationships, and one’s view of the world.
  • Distinguish 4 primary patient-based themes within narrative approaches including temporality, biographical disruption and identity reconstruction,  morality, and social contextualization.
  • Apply cognitive-affective and narrative approaches to meaning-making in the ethical care of patients coping with chronic illness, alone and in tandem, with a greater clinical sensitivity to socio-cultural differences in meaning-making in this context.