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Participatory theatre and mental health recovery: a narrative inquiry

Torrissen, Wenche; Stickley, Theodore


Wenche Torrissen

Theodore Stickley


Aims: To identify the potential relationship between participation in theatre and mental health recovery. To give voice to the stories told by participants of Teater Vildenvei, a theatre company that has been part of the rehabilitation programme for mental health service users in Oslo since 1995.

Methods: Twelve narrative interviews were conducted amongst participants of Teater Vildenvei and the data were subject to a narrative analysis process following the philosophy of Paul Ricoeur and the specific methods of thematic, event and relational analysis as identified by Riessman.

Results: The narratives are considered in the theoretical light of the mental health recovery framework as identified by Leamy et al. Each participant had experienced a transformation in identity; the sense of belonging within the group was perceived as highly important to their mental health; engagement with the theatre company gives people something meaningful to do, a sense of hope and individuals feel empowered.

Conclusions: This narrative inquiry gave opportunity for participants to elaborate on their stories of their engagement with Teater Vildenvei. It is through the richness of the data, that the depth of the significance of meaning that people ascribe to their stories demonstrates the potential power of participatory theatre for mental health recovery. Because of its effects, people make life-changing and life-saving claims.


Torrissen, W., & Stickley, T. (2018). Participatory theatre and mental health recovery: a narrative inquiry. Perspectives in Public Health, 138(1), 47-54.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jul 20, 2017
Online Publication Date Aug 21, 2017
Publication Date Jan 1, 2018
Deposit Date Jul 28, 2017
Publicly Available Date Aug 21, 2017
Journal Perspectives in Public Health
Print ISSN 1757-9139
Electronic ISSN 1757-9147
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 138
Issue 1
Pages 47-54
Keywords Arts, mental health, narrative, Norway, recovery, theatre
Public URL
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