Personal storytelling in mental health recovery

Kate Nurser, Imogen Rushworth, Tom Shakespeare, Deirdre Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Citations (Scopus)
26 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose: Creating more positive individual narratives around illness and identity is at the heart of the mental health care recovery movement. Some recovery services explicitly use personal storytelling as an intervention. This paper looks at individual experiences of a personal storytelling intervention, a recovery college Telling My Story course.

Design/methodology/approach: Eight participants who had attended the Telling My Story course offered at a UK recovery college were interviewed. Data were analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis.

Findings: Five key themes emerged: a highly emotional experience, feeling safe to disclose, renewed sense of self, two-way process and a novel opportunity.

Originality/value: The findings suggest that storytelling can be a highly meaningful experience and an important part of the individual’s recovery journey. They also begin to identify elements of the storytelling process which might aid recovery, and point to pragmatic setting conditions for storytelling interventions to be helpful. More time could be dedicated to individuals telling their story within UK mental health services, and we can use this insight into the experience of personal storytelling to guide any future developments.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-36
Number of pages12
JournalMental Health Review Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 12 Mar 2018


  • storytelling
  • mental health recovery
  • interpretative phenomenological analysis
  • narrative therapy

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