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The exploration of memories in Gestalt reminiscence therapy

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This paper explores the memories of older adults. The therapeutic approach, gestalt reminiscence therapy, is briefly outlined. Two transcripts from a 5-year ongoing investigation, the Cork Older Adult Intervention Project, were analysed using discourse analysis. Results suggest that memories are related to objects, locations and people, past achievements, historical occasions and personal events, as well as to sensitive issues. These form the constituent thematic elements of memories in the present study. It was further discovered that interpersonal bonds are forged through the creation of links between individuals reminiscing. Older adults get a sense of 'empowerment' as personal experts on the times they have lived in while self-esteem is enhanced through the recall of past achievements. 'Unfinished business' may also be identified. Evidence was obtained for three out of the six types of Watt and Wong's taxonomy of reminiscence, as well as for eight of the 11 themes identified by them. Furthermore, an additional theme, historical events, was distinguished in this study.
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Document Type: Research Report

Publication date: June 1, 2001

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