Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Psychology


Narrative identity reconstruction is complex and a key process in mental health recovery. Recovery processes are individual and nonlinear with unique developmental pathways that characterise this human adaptive growth. The nonlinear dynamic change processes are the least-understood aspects of recovery and the most difficult to harness in recovery-oriented healthcare. A need exists for novel approaches that focus on investigating those processes. As a nonlinear phenomenon, narrative identity reconstruction is suited to investigation from a complex adaptive system (CAS) perspective. The purpose of this thesis is to explore participants’ narrative identity reconstruction as part of their mental health recovery, using a CAS perspective. This research project was guided by a constructivist (interpretive) research paradigm. It uses a conceptual framework that is informed by CAS, the life story model of identity (LSMI), intentional change theory (ICT), and the hero’s journey. These are integrated into a narrative coaching approach. A two-study, exploratory mixed methods design was used to generate knowledge regarding participants’ narrative identity reconstruction in recovery. In Study 1 interviews examined the recovery stories of 17 mental health peer workers in order to qualitatively explore the main elements of their narrative identity reconstruction in recovery. Participants’ self-mastery (as part of personal agency), especially at redemptive story turning points, was found to be a crucial aspect of their narrative identity reconstruction. In Study 2, the findings from Study 1 were operationalised in a narrative coaching serious boardgame designed to improve participants’ sense of self-mastery as a part of narrative identity reconstruction.



Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.