Children’s meaningmaking in the wake of a disaster: the tsunami in Southeast Asia.

Iglebæk, T., & Jensen, T. K. (2008). Barns meningsdannelse under flodbølgekatastrofen i Sørøst–Asia [Children’s meaningmaking in the wake of a disaster: the tsunami in Southeast Asia.] Norwegian only. Tidsskrift for Norsk Psykologforening, 12, 1488-1497.

Many children experience difficulty narrating traumatic events. In this study, narratives from 16 children who experienced the tsunami in Southeast Asia were analysed.

Qualitative analyses were conducted to investigate what characterizes the structure of the children’s narratives and how the children construct meaning to the situation. Contrary to what was predicted, all the children’s narratives were causally and episodically organized, and were assumed to aid the children in meaning-making. The most traumatized children were also the ones who had the most complex narratives. The children’s meaning-making process was characterized by a hermeneutical process, and most of the children attributed the outcome of the event to luck. Reasons for why the children were able to produce such rich narratives are discussed. Therapists should take into account not only the magnitude of a traumatic event, but also its cultural and social impact when trying to understand and aid children in the aftermath of trauma.