Meaning in life in adolescents with developmental trauma: A qualitative study

Newly published research – Kjersti Olstad, Torgeir Sørensen, Lars Lien, Lars J Danbolt, 2023 (

Aim: The purpose of this study was to explore how adolescent patients displaying developmental trauma experience and describe meaning in life. Schnell’s model of meaning in life is applied to explore meaningfulness, crises of meaning and sources of meaning. Method: The study has a qualitative design based on individual interviews with eight adolescents aged 14–18 years in treatment in an outpatient clinic for mental health care for children and adolescents. The interviews were transcribed and analyzed using systematic text condensation. Results: The adolescents related meaning in life to the experience of coherence, intrinsic values, progress and belonging, or the absence of these. Examples of sources of meaning among the informants were positive relations with meaningful others, structure and routines, moments of well-being, achieving goals related to education, work and family, and seeking something else outside oneself such as playing computer games, being engaged in politics, being with animals, having a belief in a god or being outdoors in natural surroundings. Conclusion: Although the topic of meaning in life was unknown to this group, they used sources of meaning intuitively. This group seems to have similar preferences to the general population. More knowledge is needed on how the topic of meaning in life can be useful in therapy for adolescents with development trauma.