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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A model for transformative learning : the promotion of successful aging Shaw, Muriel Edith


The purpose of this research project was to explore a model of transformative learning for the promotion of successful aging in group counselling and psychotherapy. This project explored how a model of life review, including guided autobiography (Birren & Deutchman, 1991) and enactment(s) in group psychodrama (Westwood, 1997) contributes to transformative learning (Mezirow, 1991, 1998). Successful aging emphasizes the potential for psychological growth rather than decline across the life span. In a field study, I used an ethnographic approach with an emphasis on reflexivity (Atkinson & Hammersley, 1994; Fisher, 1995). For this model, seven co-researchers, graduate students and professionals in practise, engaged in life review enactments in the context of group psychodrama. Evidence for communicative and emancipatory action two major domains of transformative learning (Mezirow, 1991), emerged from the data analysis. Six major themes, including four process themes and two content themes emerged: 1) the reflexive reconstruction of the self; 2) co-construction of the meaning of experience; 3) moral betrayal and social injustice; 4) leadership and creating a democratic public space; 5) action planning: individual and social action; and, 6) dreams as a template for actions. These central themes are described. Case examples from the stories of the co-researchers are offered as clarification. Suggestions and implications for future research and practise are discussed.

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