“Here we are together, at home you are alone”–social interactions and personal engagement during a group-based rehabilitation program for young adults with disability

Mette Miklos, Reidun Jahnsen, Astrid Nyquist, Halvor Hanisch, Sonya Girdler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Purpose: Young adults with disabilities often report feeling alone in their experience of disability. Group-based rehabilitation programs provide opportunities to participate in learning processes and share experiences of living with a disability. The aim of this study was to explore and interpret social interactions and personal processes of engagement and development of young adults with disabilities during a rehabilitation program. Methods: Fifty-four young adults attending a group-based rehabilitation program at Beitostølen Healthsports Center (BHC) participated in the study. A grounded theory methodology employing ethnographic data enabled an in-depth exploration of the social processes occurring during the rehabilitation stay. Results: The social environment was important to personal processes during the stay. Fundamental to the social processes was a culture defined by opportunities, competence, and involvement of the young adults that promoted feelings of safety and the freedom to challenge themselves. Being with peers with disabilities enabled a sense of community underpinned by a shared understanding. Peers fostered motivation to actively engage in the participation processes, built courage and promoted self-reflection. Conclusion: This article contributes to the understanding of the dynamic interactions between social contextual structures and interrelations, and personal processes of engagement and developmental experiences during a group-based rehabilitation program.IMPLICATIONs FOR REHABILITATION Rehabilitation in context of a peer-group was highly valued and made a unique contribution to the rehabilitation experience. Being in a group with peers sharing the experience of disability resulted in a safe learning environment, improving participants’ motivation, encouraging them to engage in challenging activities and social interactions. The informal interactions and shared experience of living with a disability promoted self-reflection and improved self-understanding. Being with peers sharing the experience of disability provided opportunities for role modelling and mentoring, inspiring participants as to what might be possible.

Original languageEnglish
JournalDisability and Rehabilitation
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 17 May 2021
Externally publishedYes

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