“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

2 Citations (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
Pages (from-to)1631-1641
Number of pages11
JournalDisability and Rehabilitation
Volume44
Issue number9
Early online date17 May 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2022
Externally publishedYes

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