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Welcome by the chair 3

Conference theme 4

Strands 5

About IMEC 6

INCREASE safe space policy 7

Scientific committee 8

Rooms 9

Wifi & IT 12

Social media & live streaming 13

Social room 14

Poet in residence 16

Walking tour in Central London on Friday 13 July 18

New Meaning Network: Call for Interested people 19

Book launch: Mental health in crisis 20

Programme schedule 21

Friday 12 July 30
Saturday 13 July 39
Sunday 14 July 60
Posters 88

Social programme 89
Friday 12 July Welcome drinks
Saturday 13 July Dinner in L’Escargot
Sunday 14 July Post-conference drinks
Food & food requests

Instructions for presenters 91

Instructions for session chairs 92

Venue : How to get there + Accommodation + Map of rooms 97

Welcome by the chair
I feel very honoured to give you a very warm welcome to the second IMEC International Meaning
Conference in London, from 12 to 14 July 2019.

I feel very excited, connected and inspired, when I think about

all these amazing people involved in the organisation of IMEC
2019, and about all the presenters who are going to speak
about their work. So many amazing people have already
committed and contributed to make this conference
meaningful! In this programme booklet, you can find an
overview of the inspiring members of the scientific committee
who have generously dedicated their time to make this event
happen. You can also find over 70 abstracts from a wide range
of lectures and workshops from experts coming from all corners
of the earth. I know that I will have difficulties selecting to which
lectures and workshops I will go, as they all look extremely
meaningful to me.

This is our conference, this is your conference! So please bring your ideas and questions and share
them with each other, and come home as an enriched person! Just speak with that person next to
you, have a conversation with the speakers, and feel valued for your contribution.

This year, we have chosen to focus the theme on the intersection between the personal and the
social domain. We live in an era with many crises -financial, political, cultural, academic, and
ecological. What does this do to us? How would a meaningful answer to these crises look like? How
can we practice and do research in this challenging climate?

We will hear some reflections on these questions from some speakers who will undoubtedly have
some inspiring words to share, such as Carol Ryff, Louis Hofmann, Emmy van Deurzen, Virginia
Eatough, Martin Milton, Mick Cooper, Jonathan Smith and many, many others!

This is not your ordinary conference! As we believe that meaning is multidisciplinary and can often
best be grasped in non-intellectual ways, we have invited poets, painters, dancers, yoga and
musicians! Join us in one of the workshops, get inspired, and feel connected with what is meaningful
for you and for others. The heart beat of the conference will be in the social room, ‘Frankl’ where you
can come to relax, meet, share and get inspired! The gala dinner is also not be missed in one of
London’s most unique and exclusive places, with three bands, four poets and a DJ confirmed!

I am looking forward to meeting you!

Dr Joel Vos, PhD, CPsychol

Chair IMEC International Meaning Conferences

Leader of the Professional Doctorate in Existential Psychotherapy and Counselling, New School of
Psychotherapy and Counselling, London
Researcher, Metanoia Institute, London
Director Meaning Online Ltd /
Latest books: Meaning in life: an evidence-based handbook for practitioners (2018, Palgrave McMillan); Mental health in
crisis (2019, SAGE); The economics of meaning in life (2019, University of Exeter Press, forthcoming)

Conference theme
The personal and social power of meaning:
standing up for meaning in a globalised society

Our relationships with others are changing. We face political crises, socio-economic change,
globalisation and an increasing workforce of robots and automation. With the change of our
relationships, we change. Our social and personal meanings transform. Our personal values are
moving under pressure from commercials and social media. How can we live a meaningful life in this
dynamic context? How can we realise our personal dreams? What does research tell about these
social and personal changes? How can therapists, coaches and other practitioners empower clients
and help them make sense? How can the relationship with a practitioner help clients discover what is
meaningful? How can research socially empower individuals? How can social theory direct us towards
positive transformation? How do mental health advocates, political activists and artists strive for
social justice?

One aim of this conference is connecting people. We want to connect and learn from each other’s
theoretical and practical wisdom. We come from many different disciplines: existential philosophy
and therapy, coaching, positive and phenomenological psychology, sociology, politics, theology,
anthropology, business, HR, and art. We are researchers, practitioners in mental health care,
philosophers, activists and artists. We have many interactive and creative forms of connecting, via
lectures, workshops, debates, experiential exercises, live client demonstrations, social events...
Anyone can propose a presentation, workshop or symposium, and contribute in the open spaces in
the program. In the social program, there is opportunity to show your creative talent with music,
poetry, art and other forms!

Another aim is exploring the social changes. Researchers will share their findings on social
development. Psychologists, sociologists and activists will describe their understanding and vision
how we can live a meaningful life.

An additional aim is learning meaningful practices. The pre-conference program offers hands-on skill
workshops for therapists, researchers and activists.

Amongst other strands, during the conference, there will be events (lectures, workshops, etc) around
the following strands:

• Existential therapy, coaching & counselling

o E.g. client-therapist relationship, grief therapy, meaning in HRM and pastoral care
• Meaning & positive psychology
o E.g. research on the impact of the economical and political climate on our lives
• Empirical experiential qualitative research
o E.g Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis, phenomenology, hermeneutics, narrative
• Political & social theory
o E.g. identity in social context, meaning at work, sociology, anthropology
• The practice of social justice & activism
o E.g. empowerment via therapy, political groups, mental health lobbyists, diversity in care
• Creative connections

About IMEC
About IMEC
The IMEC International Meaning Conference is a bi-annual international conference in the UK for
practitioners and researchers who focus at meaning in life and at helping people to live a meaningful
life despite life’s challenges ( The conference started in response to the
successful International Meaning Conferences in Canada which are organised by the International
Network for Personal Meaning and chaired by professor Paul Wong ( The focus of
IMEC is on pluralistic and multidisciplinary perspectives on meaning, research and practice from
anyone focusing in their work on meaning. The IMEC conference has one day of pre-conference
workshops and two days of plenary sessions, workshops and parallel sessions. The focus is on
research, practice and their connection. The first conference was hosted by the University of
Roehampton in 2017, and had 100 participants from all continents after only four months of
promoting. Participants included existential, psychodynamic, Gestalt, CBT and other types of
therapists, researchers in positive psychology, priests, philosophers, nurses, psychiatrists,
anthropologists, sociologists, social activists and human resource managers. The evaluations were
extremely positive, suggesting keeping overall the same format. 95% of the participants said in an
anonymous evaluation form that they would come again and 90% said that they would try to bring
colleagues with them to a next conference; therefore, we expect approximately 100 to 150
participants in 2019.

General principles behind conference (similar to IMEC 2017)

- Focus on connecting individuals and stimulating collaborations
- Multi-disciplinary (psychology, anthropology, philosophy, theology, sociology, humanities, politics,
- Pluralistic (not one specific meaning-centered ‘school’ of practice or research)
- Connect research and practice
- Any type of practices, e.g. therapists, priests, nurses, community workers, social workers, political
- Any type of research, e.g. phenomenological, quantitative, sociological, clinical, community
activities, philosophical explorations
- Creative formats of connecting and learning, eg workshops, debates, etc
- Practical tools for practitioners
- Research inspiration and tools for researchers
- Meaning in different contexts: therapy, coaching, research, work, church, nursing, social activism,
community events, etc.
- Evidence-based, where ‘evidence’ can be quantitative or qualitative research, clinical experience or
systematic conceptual work
- At the end of the conference, create a joint conference statement with audience and keynote
speakers, and publish this
- Accessible for as many individuals as possible (eg low fees for students and unwaged)
- Integration with online tools; e.g. live broadcasting of all sessions online (webinars) + make these
available online, so that individuals anywhere in the world can follow this; after the conference,
individuals can be in touch with each other via Meaning Online where they can create profiles and
upload their research/presentations + presenters who cannot attend the conference can present

INCREASE safe space policy
Meaning only grows in a safe space. Therefore, IMEC 2019 has a policy to INCREASE safety.
Hopefully, these are self-explanatory points and you would be doing this anyhow. However,
remind each other of this policy if needed. Ask the organisation of the conference if you need
more explanation.
I nclusive communication - regardless of gender, race, identity, etc
N on-hierarchical - no one is better or worse than others:
we are all human beings

C ompliments before criticism - don’t burn presenters down

R espectful - treat others in the way you would like to
be treated
E mpathy - imagine: how would it like to be the other
person with whom I am now communicating?
A ccept feedback - if someone gives you feedback, do not go in
defence or a fight; this is their perception, and
this may be different from yours (agree to
S ensitive to the situation - be sensitive to the boundaries and needs from
others; help others if you see they are not doing
E xpress your boundaries! - if you feel that someone is crossing your
boundaries, tell this clearly to the person. If
needed, ask someone from the organisation
(e.g. at the registration desk) to help.

Scientific committee
As the conference takes place in London, the scientific committee primarily -although not solely- consists
of members from Europe:
- London New School of Psychotherapy and Counselling, Metanoia Institute & Meaning Online, Dr Joel
Vos (chair) (
- Birkbeck University, Professor Jonathan Smith
- London New School of Psychotherapy and Counselling, Professor Emmy van Deurzen
- Austria, Viktor Frankl Institute, Professor Alexander Batthyany
- Metanoia Institute, Dr Biljana van Rijn
- Regent’s College London, Professor Martin Milton
- University of Haifa, Israel, Dr Pninit Russo-Netzer
- KU Leuven, Belgium, Dr Siebrecht Vanhooren
- University of Roehampton, Diego Vitali, PhD student
- Yannick Jacob
- Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Canada, Dr Roger Tweed
- Buckinghamshire New University, Dr Piers Worth
- University of East London, Dr Tim Lomas
- Existential Analysis in the UK, Dr Aleksandra Kupavskaya
- Existential Analysis in the UK, Dr Anna Naumenko
- Higher School of Economics, Moscow; Lomonosov Moscow State University, Dmitry Leontiev
- Dr Carmel Proctor, Proctor Counselling

Conference partners
We are very grateful for the support received from the following partners and supporters of the IMEC

- Meaning Online Ltd

- Metanoia Institute
- New School of Psychotherapy and Counselling
- Viktor Frankl Institute
- Institute for the Study of Meaning, Tel Aviv University
- International Network for Personal Meaning
- Colorado State University

Room names
Standing on the shoulders of giants…

The IMEC conference will take place at Birkbeck College, Malet Street, in Central London. We will use
multiple rooms which are all accessible by both stairs and lift (wheelchair accessible). Directions and a
map of the rooms can be found at the end of this programme booklet. Each room has its own theme.
To recognise and honour those people who have inspired us directly or indirectly, we have given each
room the name of an individual who have meant a lot to the field of meaning.

Room 153 Frankl (F)

From all authors on meaning, Viktor Frankl has possibly been one of the
most influential. His philosophy gained popularity with his book ‘Man’s
Search for Meaning’, in which he described how experiencing meaning can
help to overcome man’s largest possible atrocities in life. Many
researchers and therapists have cited Frankl, whether they directly follow
his ideas, or have further extended his philosophies. Therefore, it seems
logical to give the central social space at the conference the name of
Frankl, the place where people are welcomed to the conference and
where they can meet each other and reflect on what has been meaningful
for them during this conference.

Room 152 Jaspers (J)

Karl Jaspers was one of the first psychiatrists to ask attention for existential topics
and meaning in life. He became famous for the concept of ‘boundary situations’,
which are turning points in life when individuals are confronted with life’s givens
and paradoxes, and when the situation asks them to transcend their situation and
make a conscious decision. In this room, we will hear lectures about individuals
who have been confronted with such life-changing events.

Room 251 Husserl (H)

Edmund Husserl was one of the most famous phenomenologists. He asked
researchers to reflect on their own approach to research –bracketing their
assumptions- so that we can let the object or experience speak for itself
instead of that we impose our voice. During the conference, this room will
offer a space for critical research: qualitative and also quantitative in nature.
During the pre-conference workshops, the Husserl Room will offer a space
to learn about goals and personal projects, which may lie in line with
Husserl’s philosophy of intentionality.

Room 252 Laing (L)
Ronnie Laing was a British psychiatrist/anti-psychiatrist who tried to
understand the meaning constructions in the words, feelings and behaviours
of his clients. Often these were clients whose experiences were regarded
meaningless and senseless by the traditional paradigms. However, Laing went
beyond the traditional paradigms. Therefore, most of the workshops and
lectures in the room Laing go beyond the traditional paradigms in psychology
and psychotherapy. This room offers a space for topics like critical psychiatry,
questions to the psychotherapeutic status quo, finding meaning in creative
forms of expression, and challenging authorities and dogmas at work to open
new meaningful perspectives.

Room 253 Erikson (E)

Erik Erikson wrote many texts on the development of people. His theoretical
model of developmental phases in life suggested that individuals ask different
question about meaning in different phases of life. During this conference,
this room will offer space for research on development, young people and
education. During the pre-conference workshops, the room Erikson will focus
on the research education of conference participants: how can we conduct
research in the field of meaning?

Room 254 Vedas (V)

The Vedas are some of the oldest surviving te xts on meaning in life, such as
the Upanishads, the Brahma Sutras and the Bhagavad Gita. The author(s) do
not speak about meaning in life but about the intertwined fourfold system of
dharma (a moral way of living, following duties and laws), artha (finding
meaning in means of life such as food, shelter and wealth), kama (finding
meaning in experiences such as pleasure, desire, sex and love) and moksha
(spiritual meaning, liberation from the life– rebirth cycle, or self-realisation in
this life). It is only the dynamic totality of this fourfold system that can be
called meaningful, and that may be fostered via a complex system of yoga,
which are physical, mental and spiritual practices. During this conference, the
Vedic Room offers space to lectures and workshops on topics such as
embodiment, spirituality, larger perspectives on life, creativity, death and life.

Room 255 Marten Luther King (M)
Marten Luther King was one of the most effective
political campaigners, who helped the American Civil
Rights Movement to a victory. His legacy continues to
inspire many, such as the current world-wide Extinction
Rebellion movement which demands po-litical change
against climate change. Six months before his death,
King wrote a sermon in a service as a minister to young
people, in which he wrote that meaning cannot be
found in just merely attributing meaning to your life (‘a
building is not well erected without a good, solid

What is this blueprint about? Living a meaningful life means being meaningful, to yourself, others, the
world. He shared that meaning in life can be discovered through understanding of your dignity,
working hard to achieve excellence, and serving others like you’re on a mission from God because you
are. The workshops and lectures in this room share this understanding of meaning as something that
needs to be lived in our actions for others, in our changing world and society, to demand justice for
the oppressed, and to make the world a better place.

IT & WiFi
WiFi Network: BBK-Guest
Username: IMEC

Password: NWQSW4

Guest Account and Wi-Fi Instructions:

· Make sure your wireless adapter is set to dynamically obtain an IP address

· Connect to the wireless network: BBK-Guest

· Enter username and password

If you experience problems connecting please follow these instructions:

· – Choose the SSID ‘BBK-Guest’ from the network list.

· – Once connected, load an Internet browser which will direct you to the Aruba WIFI login

landing page.

· – Enter the username and password where prompted and submit.

· – Reload the browser and you should be connected.

Please note that you may need to try a different browser than usual, Internet explorer or Chrome
are recommended.

We offer Guest Wi-Fi as a free service at Birkbeck, however, please note that signal strength and
reliability is dependent on the level of local Wi-Fi traffic at the time.

Social media
Are you a presenter?
Share your powerpoint slides or other material from your session with the audience. Go to and click on ‘add your IMEC 2019 presentation’

Do you want to share reflections, discussions, feedback, videos or photos?

Go to and click on ‘add your reflections, discussions…’

Do you want to see the presentation slides from presenters, or the reflections from others?
Go to and click on ‘view IMEC 2019 presentations’ and ‘view reflections, …’

Sharing on social media

Please share your experiences of IMEC 2019 on social media! Of course, when you make pictures or
videos of someone, please ask whether they agree. Our social media are:
@IMECmeaningconf on Twitter
@InternationalMeaningConferenceLondon on Facebook


Not everyone who wanted to come, has been able to join the IMEC conference. We can also not
attend all sessions at the same time. Therefore, we want to live-stream and save as many sessions as
possible!!! Please help us with live-streaming sessions, as we want to make the wisdom accessible to
a wide audience. Ask the presenters whether they are OK with live-streaming. In each room, there is a
tripod with a mobile phone holder (which can also be used for a DSLR camera). Put your phone in the
holder, go to the Facebook groups dedicated to the specific room, click on ‘write a post’, click on ‘live
video’, type the number and possibly names of the session and click to go live. At the end of the
recording PLEASE CLICK ON SAVE (otherwise the recording will be deleted!!!!). It is very simple!
IMEC2019Aristotle / IMEC2019Jaspers / IMEC2019Frankl / IMEC2019Husserl /
IMEC2019Laing / IMEC2019Erikson / IMEC2019Veda / IMEC2019King

Conference photographer and video people

During the conference, there will be professional photographers and video people who will be making
pictures and videos. Whenever possible, they will ask for your verbal consent to include you in their
picture or recording. However, in some lecture rooms (such as Aristotle) they will put up their
recording devices on a tripod; if you see this, and you do not want to be recorded please find a seat
outside of the camera view, and/or tell the camera person that you do not want to be recorded. If you
do not explicitly inform us that you do not want to be recorded in a lecture, we assume that you
agree (automatically opt-in). Recordings from the conference can be used in the totality, or in parts,
for sharing on social media and YouTube/Vimeo, for educational purposes. Recordings may be used
for promotion of future conferences (Meaning Online Ltd). The copyright is owned by the presenter.
The organisers of the conference and Meaning Online Ltd are to no extent responsible for the content
shared by the presenter. The presenter can ask for deletion of any recordings from social media or
promotion at any time, except in the case that the recording has been included in an aggregated form
such as a promotion video or documentary with multiple recordings. If you are a presenter and do
NOT agree that you will be recorded or live-streamed with these purposes, inform camera people!

Privacy statement
Your name and contact details will not be shared with any external companies or any partners. We will only use your contact
details to inform you about our future events; on average this will not be more than 1 email per month. If you do not want
to receive these emails, please send an email to Please visit to find the
GDPR and privacy statement which explains how we treat your personal information.

Social room
Hosted and curated by Tom Andrews

The social space is the dedicated area of the conference where people can
connect, support one another and have a bit of quiet time. The space will
host a communal meal every lunchtime and at the end of each day we will
gather to reflect on our learning and ponder some of the questions raised in
the sessions. During the conference we will be using the space as a hub to
document thoughts, ideas and requests, to give everyone a chance to have a

You will see that in the programme, the activities in the social space will still
be included. If you have a suggestion for an activity, please contact us!

Other activities within the Social Space:

Panel discussion & group reflection

A chance to reflect on the learning from the day and to hear final insights from a selection of
speakers. A perfect round-off to the day.

Support Forum
Have a research question? A practical problem? A conundrum with your studies? An issue initiating
social change? This is a chance to ask others for their thoughts and reflections in a supportive,
generous forum. Taking place during the weekend based on sign-up interest. Facilitated by Tom

Tom Andrews

Tom specialises in creating space for reflection and connection. He is a founder of two national
charities, and a leadership coach, mentor and facilitator, specialising in supporting those working in
the charitable and public sectors. He is also a qualified counsellor working in community settings.

He is committed to supporting people to find their own voice and what is meaningful for them, as
well as being a catalyst for creative initiatives that benefit others and the world around us.

He founded Music for Change (promoting understanding between cultures through music) in a
bedroom in Canterbury in 1997. By 2003 Music for Change employed 9 members of staff, reaching
over 60,000 young people annually through workshops and performances. Tom founded People
United (how participatory arts can grow kindness) in 2006. Over 11 years, People United pioneered
work across the UK exploring arts, wellbeing and social change. Working with the social psychology
team at the University of Kent, People United became renowned for bold, positive projects and well-
researched evaluation.

He is the author of Tibet: Journey through a Changing Land, and co-author of Arts and Kindness. He is
a Clore Leadership Fellow (Year 1) and a member of the European Mentoring and Coaching Council
(EMCC) and the British Association for Council and Psychotherapy (BACP).

Art is the language of our soul,
it throws a rainbow into our greyness,
and whispers meaningful words
into the relentless rut of our daily life.
(Vos, 2019)

There could be no IMEC conference without artists and poets! Our most intimate meanings are
possibly not revealed in theories and science but in art. We are honoured that Scott Thurston,
Andi The Punk Poet and Helen Battler will share their inspiring poetry. Annie Zamero is a well-known
painter who will give a workshop which will inspire all participants. And there are many other poets,
painters and dancers who will let us feel what is meaningful!

See a brief video on ‘Meaning and True Art’:


IMEC has a poet in residence: Stephen Micalef, AKA Steve Mick. He was writer for the first Punk
fanzine Sniffin' Glue in ’76. He is one of the main performing poets for charity Punk4MentalHealth.
He has published amazing poetry, as can be read in his poetry book which will be for sale during the
conference. But most of all, Steve has a unique talent of creating poetry even on the spot, which
to inspire and provoke people. It is difficult not to get touched by his words and his amazing visions!

What can we expect from our poet in residence, Stephen Micalef AKA Steve Mick?

Reflections on the day

We have asked Stephen to give his reflections during the conference days in poetic form. He will listen
to lectures, speak with people and inspire us with his words! You will be able to hear him in the
plenary room and during the penal discussion at the end of the day. But do not be surprised if you can
hear poetry anywhere!

Walking tour in Central London with poetry

On the next page you can read about the unique walking tour that Stephen will offer.

Poetry during conference dinner

Stephen will read some of his poems during conference dinner. Get a ticket for the dinner to hear!

William Blake workshop

Stephen will give a workshop on William Blake together with his partner Helen. He is one of the
founders of the William Blake Congregation. William Blake was an English pre-Romantic poet, thinker
and painter (1757-1827). He had a deep spirituality and a rebellious spirit. He strived for the
humanitarian goal of wholeness of body and spirit. Without using the term ‘meaning in life’, this was
what much of what his work was about. In this interactive workshop you will engage in poetry and
painting. Find this in the program!

Walking tour in Central London
on Friday 13 July
Are you a tourist in London?
Or do you live here but do you not really
know our cultural roots?
Do you want to learn about the history
of a unique world-wide social movement?
But do you not want to join one of these
boring Hop On Hop Off bus tours?
Do you want to see unique places?
Do you want to get inspired and provoked?

Join this unique punk walk!

London is the birthplace of many alternative cultural movements, from the Beatles and Queen to Amy
Winehouse and Jamie Cullum. However, there was possibly nothing so revolutionary as the punk
movement which started in 1976, which quickly inspired the birth of many other music genres, such
as goth, emo, modern rock, and electronic music.
Punk was much more than just a music style and look, it was an attitude. It was about
meaning in life. As Joel Vos, with the nickname ‘the punk professor’ and organiser of the charity
Punk4MentalHealth, says: ‘The ABC of Punk is: Acceptance, Be yourself, Creative counter-culture, DIY,
Empowerment, Fight narrow-mindedness, Get together, and Having Fun’. At the IMEC conference we
are extremely privileged to have one of the original people in the punk movement to offer a walk,
specifically for our conference participants! This walk will not only tell you the secret inside-story of
the birth of one of world’s most shocking cultural movements, but you will be treated with thought-
provoking and heart-beating punk poetry.

Our IMEC Poet in Residence, Stephen Micalef, AKA Steve Mick was writer for the first Punk fanzine
Sniffin' Glue. He will lead a walk around the early punk venues of '76 - '77 - and regale the walkers
with poems & original stories - some told for the first time. Visiting the sites of the Marquee & the
Vortex, Louise's, The Hole in The Wall, Ronnie Scott's, 100 Club, The Ship, and ending at The Roxy.

Meet on Friday 14 July at 1.15 pm in room Frankl. £10 paid on arrival. Not to be missed!

New Meaning Network: Call
for Interested people
Would you like to be part of a new network of
practitioners, researchers and others who are
interested in meaning?
Some of us have been discussing this idea and we would really like to talk about it with
other people who may be interested. This conference is an obvious place to do so.
If you are interested, do come to an informal meeting on Sunday lunchtime- at
12.45pm in Room Aristotle. Feel free to bring your lunch!

Meaning is at the heart of the psychological, social and spiritual experience of being human.
Individuals try to make sense of things that happen to them, their life experiences, the world
around them and their self. We believe researchers and practitioners from many different
disciplines have a fundamental interest in meaning and meaning-making and may welcome a
pluralistic community bringing together a range of different voices, approaches and interests.

For example, phenomenologically oriented human science researchers are interested in how
participants describe and/or make sense of their experiences, existential therapists are concerned
with attempting to help individuals make sense of their lives and to lead meaningful lives while
many others have their own angle on meaning, which will contribute to our understanding of
meaning and how it may contribute to individuals and communities. We would like to invite
academics, practitioners and other professionals from a range of disciplines who share our
passionate concern with the meaning of things.

We are excited by the possibility of bringing together people from these different academic and
professional domains. We believe that conversations between individuals using different methods
and having different ideas about meaning can help to develop innovative ideas and practices. We
believe that it will benefit the research and practices of all, when we connect with each other, and
have a shared promotion and representation of our expertise towards society. This unity does not
mean that everyone needs to agree with one narrowly defined set of ideas, but instead means the
acknowledgement of the diversity of experiences and visions.

We are at a very early stage of our thinking and would like to hear what other people think. E.g.
• What are the different conceptualizations of meaning that people are using?
• What is the scale of convergence and divergence between them?
• Which groups would you like to have better communication and dialogue with?
• What sort of activities would you envisage a meaning community engaging in?

We look forward to seeing people who are interested in discussing these things at the meeting.

Yannick Jacob, Pninit Russo-Netzer, Joel Vos, Jonathan A Smith

Book launch Saturday lunch

IMEC 2019

Friday 12 July Pre-conference workshops
153 Frankl (F) 152 Jaspers (J) 251 Husserl (H) 252 Laing (L) 253 Erikson (E) 254 Veda (V) 255 Martin Luther
‘the social room’ King (M)
8:30 Registration open
9:30-12:30 F1.1. J1.1. H1.1. L1.1. E1.1. V1.1. M1.1.
Meaning-centred “12 Months to Live (or Curious Mental health in crisis: Interpretative The meaning of the Radical Change:
Therapy with Events on an Audacious Quest politics and power in phenomenological body How Embodied
Survivors of Violent to Figure Out a Life): Framing mental health care analysis workshop Shulamith Kreitler Practice Changes
Crime Life as Personal Projects and Joel Vos (part 1) the Way We
Susan Miller Interventions to Deepen Virginia Eatough Change
Meaning, Accomplish Goals, Greg Madison
Discover Vocation, and More”
David Stefan
12:30-13:15 LUNCH
13:15-16:00 13:15-17:30 Punk J1.2. H1.2. L1.2. 13:15-14:45 E1.2. V1.1.1. M1.2.
Walking Tour in Mourning and Goal mapping – creating a The Relational Interpretative Layers of Meaning Radical Change:
Central London meaning meaningful way forward Landscape of Dialogic phenomenological Workshop (45 How Embodied
Organiser: Stephen Robert Neimeyer Aleksandra Kupavskaya Intervention and analysis workshop mins) Practice Changes
Micalef, AKA Steve Creating Meaningful (part 2) Romy Brooks & the Way We
Mick Change Virginia Eatough Tracey Change
Gary L. Mangiofico M1.1.2. Larger Greg Madison
than life (45 mins)
F1.2. 14:45-16:30 Marta Markoska
A Day in the Shoes of
Gen Z: Understanding
the World of Young
Ruxandra Anghel
(90 mins)
16:00-16:30 COFFEE & TEA
16:30-17:30 F1.3. Panel J1.3.Panel discussion
discussion & group & group reflection
reflection Chair: Tom
Chair: Tom Andrews/Joel Vos
Andrews/Joel Vos
Saturday 13 July

152-153 Frankl (F) B33 Lecture hall 251 Husserl (H) 252 Laing (L) 253 Erikson (E) 254 Veda (V) 255 Martin Luther
Aristotle (A) King (M)
8:30 8:30 registration open
9:30- F2.1. A2.1. x X X X X
9:45 Opening
IMEC Chair Joel Vos
9:45- F2.2. A2.2. X X X X X
10:30 Brexit means Brexit:
political meanings
and personal impacts
Martin Milton
Chair: Joel Vos
10:30- F2.3. Really Real Relating: A2.3. X X X X X
11:15 Using Playfulness As A Tool Applying meaning to
For Connection (workshop) life
Kyla Sokoll-Ward Roy Baumeister
Chair: Tom Edwards Chair: Joel Vos

11:15- COFFEE & TEA

11:45- F2.4. A.2.4. The economics X X X X X
12:30 The Visit: Gratitude, Kindness of meaning in life: the
and Other Not So Random Capitalist Life
Acts” Syndrome and the
David R. Stefan Meaning-oriented
Chair: Tom Edwards society
Joel Vos
12:30- Lunch 12.45pm Mental health
13:15 in crisis (book launch):
Joel Vos, Ron Roberts &
James Davies
13:15- F2.5.1. A2.5. Existential H2.1. QUALITATIVE L2.2. CREATIVE E2.1. EDUCATION V2.1. WORKSHOP M2.1. ETHICS &
14:45 A Poem in Four Movements: Therapy, RESEARCH WISDOM SYMPOSIUM INTEGRITY
Wrestling Truth Multiculturalism, and "But what about
Social Justice you?" - Death
Scott Thurston, Sarie Mairs Louis Hoffman H2.1.1. Narrative L2.2.1. Creativity and Communities of awareness and M2.1.1. Virtue
Slee Identity: From The Inside meaning meaning: Education meaning in health ethics in
Chair: Tom Edwards A2.6. The psychology of Out Shulamith Kreitler for meaning in a care professionals psychotherapy
fascism Lee Newitt changing world - Christian Schulz-Quach Carmel proctor
Neil Faulkner L2.2.2. The analysis of Theoretical and
H2.1.2. A Narrative haiku poems as -a practical aspects Chair: self-organised M2.1.2. Self-
Analysis of New Mothers’ feedback tool of gay Pninit Russo-Netzer, Studies: Skills for
Chair: TBC Experiences of Not- Christian men Shimon Azoulay optimum
Martin Milton Understanding Remziye Kunelaki , creativity,
Elizabeth Simmons Selim Cellek, Carrie Chair: Pninit Russo- integrity and self-
F2.5.2. Roder, Zoe Bennett Netzer transformation
The kindness factor H2.1.3. The journey of Zayd Awan
Tom Andrews pregnancy after stillbirth: L2.2.3. Wisdom as
finding meaning and Embodied and Chair: Self-
hope. Embedded Process:
Margaret M. Murphy, an integrative model
Joan O Leary, Keelin O Sarah Smith
Donoghue, Eileen Savage,
Patricia, Leahy-Warren L2.2.4. Developing
mindful citizens
H2.1.4. Meaning and Kelsey Evans-Amalu
the therapeutic
relationship: First Chair: Piers Worth
results from a mixed-
method study
Siebrecht Vanhooren

Chair: Siebrecht

14:45- COFFEE & TEA

15:00- F2.6. Thinking from the A.2.7. Rediscovering H2.2. L2.2. WORK E2.2. DEVELOPMENT V2.2. SPIRITUALITY M2.2.
use of concepts Psychology and EXISTENTIAL THERAPY V2.2.1. Life Meaning An evidence-
Greg Madison Psychotherapy: On and Search Activity is based creative

Chair: Tom Edwards feeling good and on EASE Wellbeing Meaning in the E2.2.1. Meaning- “Nuclear of Spiritual intervention for
being good for application of a workplace: A making through the Health” depression
something protocol, research and French perspective life cycle – a Peter Indursky Joanna Omylinska-
Alexander Batthyany findings Jean-Luc Bernaud et developmental Thurston, Aisla
al. V2.2.2. Shaw Parsons,
Mark Rayner, Chekkie approach
Godless Mystics: do Vicky Karkou
A2.8. Kauntze, Lauren Martin Adams atheists find meaning
'Part god, part Sayers, Josef Kala Chair: Jean-Luc
in their mystical Chair: self-
animal. Which part Bernaud E2.2.2. Meaning- experiences? organised
of being human gives Chair: self-organised oriented Alice Herron
us meaning?' personality
Digby Tantam Dmitry Leontiev V2.2.3. The
extraordinary in the
Chair: Siebrecht ordinary: Skychology –
Chair: Pninit Russo- Vanhooren the future of wellbeing
Netzer is looking up
Paul Conway

V224 16:00-16:30
Wisdom within
Meaning Systems: Can
Modern Research,
Lived Experience, and
Traditional Sources
Converge to
Characterize Wisdom?
Roger Tweed
Chair: Yannick Jacob
16:30- F2.7. Panel discussion & group
17:30 reflection
Chair: Tom Andrews/Joel Vos

19:30- Dinner at L’Escargot

Sunday 14 July

153-152 Frankl (F) B33 Lecture hall 251 Husserl (H) 252 Laing (L) 253 Erikson (E) 254 Veda (V) 255 Martin
Aristotle (A) Luther King (M)
8:30 8:30 registration open

9:30-9:45 F3.1. A3.1. Opening x X x X x

IMEC Chair Joel Vos
9:45-10:30 F3.2. A3.2. Forces that x X x X x
Nurture and
Undermine Meaningful
Carol Ryff
Chair: Joel Vos
10:30-11:15 F3.3. The Fun Factor A3.3. Attending to and x X x X x
(workshop – part 1) disclosing the meaning
Lowri Dowthwaite of our emotional lives.
Chair: Tom Edwards Virginia Eatough
Chair: Joel Vos
11:15-11:45 COFFEE & TEA

11:45-12:30 F3.4. The Fun Factor A3.4. The Political Edge x X x X x

(workshop – part 2) of Existential Therapy
Lowri Dowthwaite Emmy van Deurzen
Chair: Tom Edward Chair: Joel Vos
12:30-13:15 Lunch 12.45
New Meaning Network
Call (please bring your
lunch!)Pninit Russo-
Netzer, Jonathan Smith,
Yannick Jacob & Joel
13:15-14:45 F3.5. A3.5. Directionality: a H3.1. SPIRITUALITY & L3.1. INTERVENTIONS E3.1. YOUNG PEOPLE V3.2. AGE & DEATH M3.2.1.
Painting workshop purpose-centred basis for QUALITATIVE & WORK V3.2.1. How do older WORKSHOP
Annie Zamero integrative therapeutic L3.1.1. Coaching and E3.1.1. The rise of adults with
Chair: Tom Edwards practice the quest for meaning Nihilism in Millenials and Alzheimer’s disease Powerful new
Mick Cooper Yannick Jacob understand the evidence-based
H3.1.1. Creating Gen Zers - 'mood' concept of meaning practices to
A3.6. Engaging with Life: Permanency Through L3.1.2. How to Lou Futcher in life and is it improve meaning
Synchronicity Spirituality (45 mins) stimulate meaning at important for their in life, resilience,
Experiences as a Pathway Terri Nicole Sawyer work E3.1.2. Sense-making functioning over and post-
to Meaning in Life and Rosita Girjasing & Pedagogy: Vygotsky’s time? traumatic growth
Personal Growth H3.1.2. Is Fred-Jan Nesselaar Perezhivanie, Ricoeur’s Laura Dewitte, Naomi Arbit
Pninit Russo-Netzer Interpretative Mimesis, and Spinoza’s Mathieu Chair: TBC
Phenomenological Chair: Self-organised Conatus Vandenbulcke, Jessie
Analysis a 'New Yuichi Nishimoto Dezutter M3.2.2. The
Materialism'? Method of
Tony Wilson E3.3.3. Intervention V3.2.2. Life Stories, Capturing
Chair: program on meaning and Death Stories: Aged Meaning
Dmitry Leontiev Chair: TBC purpose for Chinese care workers Aleksandra
adolescents relationship with
Mandy Chan, Jimmy de la Kupavskaya
death Liana Green,
Torre, Mantak Yuen Meredith Tavener ,
Julie Byles
E3.3.4. Young adults with Aleksandra
autism spectrum Kupavskaya
condition meaning‐ V3.2.3. Nakedness
making of friendship and the dead body -
Tove Mattsson the impact of regular
death encounters on
Chair: TBC meaning and identity
in health care

Chair: Schulz-Quach,
14:45-15:00 Coffee & tea
15:00-16:30 F3.6. William Blake A3.7. Is there a crisis of H3.2. QUALITATIVE L3.2. QUANTITATIVE E3.2. EDUCATION V3.2. MEANING IN A M3.2.1.
Helen & Stephen modern phenomenon? – BODY E3.3.1. Qualitative
Micalef A historical analysis of L3.2.1. Meaning Exploration of the Reconciliation of
Chair: Tom Edwards among prisoners Undergraduate paradox and
key transitions in the H3.2.1. Living with a Siebrecht Vanhooren Experience as a Source of V3.2.1. Images: multiple
Western culture chronic illness: the Meaning in Life Making Meaning out perspective
Frank Martela challenge of meaning L3.2.2. Psychometric Ben Dunn, Michael of Social Media taking as
Evgenia T. Georganda and implicit meaning Hunter, Holli-Anne Annika Andersson pertinent
A3.8. The Off-Modern of personality Passmore mechanisms
Ron Roberts H3.2.2. The meaning development: V3.2.2. Roma promoting
of chronic pain findings from E3.2.2. Navigating the Asylum Migration meaning-making,
acceptance qualitative and tensions of and Social Change transformation
Ute Liersch quantitative studies undergraduate life: An Petr Kouba and recovery
Chair: Roger Tweed Vasily Kostenko, Anna existential from extreme
H3.2.3. The meaning Lebedeva phenomenological V3.2.3. What is it like trauma
of prostate cancer for analysis of growth in the to work at the nexus Angela Ebert
younger men and its L3.2.3. Meaning in context of coaching at a of worker co-
effect on their daily life: A moderator in UK university operativism and Chair: self-
lives the stress-depression Natalie Lancer sustainable organised
Bróna Mooney, association in nursing enterprise?
Gerard Fealy, Philip home residents? Janette Hurst
Larkin Jessie Dezutter, Laura E3.2.3. Experience of M3.2.2.
Dewitte, Evalyne Middle-aged V3.2.5. Eco-anxiety: A WORKSHOP
H3.2.4. Social Thauvoye International Students – Cascade of
Support a Key an Interpretative Fundamental Cultivating
Protective Factor of L3.2.4. “High”-quality Phenomenological Existential Anxieties Meaning through
General Health of choices: meaning Approach Holli-Anne Passmore, Parenting
People Living With foundations of Asztrik Kovács Paul K. Lutz, Andrew
HIV: An Interpretative choicework J. Howell Mina Simhai
Phenomenological Anna F. Fam, Anna A. E3.2.4. Aces too high: an
Analysis Menshchikova Interpretative Chair: TBC Chair: self-
Saima Ehsan, Syeda Phenomenological Study organised
Shahida Batool Chair: Pninit Russo- to examine educational
Netzer exclusion and inequality
H3.2.5. Existential Gail John
learning and
adolescent identity: Chair: Yannick Jacob
finding meaning of
boundary situations
Noora J. Ronkainen

Chair: Piers Worth
16:30-17:30 F3.7. Panel discussion &
group reflection +
student presentation
Chair: Tom Andrews/Joel
17:30 Post-conference drinks in
pub nearby (location TBA)


Room 153 Frankl (F)
Starting at 8.30am, Room Frankl will have a desk for registration, enquiries and book sales. Coffee, tea
and lunch will be provided in this room. There will be many opportunities for social connection and
relaxation in this room. Next to these activities, the following events have been scheduled:

F1.3. Panel discussion & group reflection

In this session, panel members and audience will be asked to reflect on the main messages or lessons learned
during this day of pre-conference workshops. During the day, audience members can write their contribution to
the following three questions on post-its and put their post-its below the following three questions which will be
put on the wall in Frankl:
1. What is meaningful change in individuals?
2. How can individuals develop a meaningful relationship with the society and wider world in which
they live?
3. How can professionals stimulate meaningful change in individuals and society?
In this session at the end of the day, someone will summarise the contributions on post-its from the audience,
and the panel members will be asked to provide their reflections on these three questions. We will minute
these answers and publish this on the website of IMEC.

Chair: Tom Andrews/Joel Vos

Room 152 Jaspers (J)

Meaning-centred Therapy with Survivors of Violent Crime
Susan L Miller (1)
(1) The Melbourne Counselling & Psychology Centre Melbourne, Australia

Exposure to violent crime, whether on a mass or an individual basis, challenges previously assumed
meaning and values in terms of safety, world, self and other. Reconstructing meaning following the
experience of violent crime is integral to recovery. This workshop covers the theory, research and
practice of meaning-centred therapies with survivors of violent crime. This is a largely a practical
workshop, drawing on case material from the presenter’s clinical practice across a range of populations,
including survivors of terrorist attack and interpersonal violence, family members of homicide victims,
and survivors of historical violence. Under the broad umbrella of meaning-centred therapy, the
workshop explores priniciples and practices from constructivist, existential and narrative approaches.
These evidence-based practices represent a hopeful way of working. There is a shift away from
pathology and limitation toward a focus on meaning reconstruction, strength, coping and post-trauma
resilience. Therapy is collaborative and culturally mindful, and client values and self-directed pathways
to recovery are central. The contribution of meaning-centred therapies to therapist well-being is a key
element of the workshop.

J1.2. Mourning and Meaning: Recomposing the Self in the Wake of Loss
Robert Niemeijer (1)

(1) Portland Institute for Loss and Transition

When death takes from us the living presence of a loved in our life, we commonly struggle not only
to make sense of the loss, but also to recompose a coherent sense of self once anchored in that
relation. In this experiential workshop we will experiment with tools for meaning making in
bereavement, drawing on narrative, embodied and arts-assisted procedures to contact, symbolize,
voice and reconstruct a sense of relational identity in the course of grieving. In particular, we will
feature creative adaptations of Composition Work to foster deep dialogue with implicit meanings in
mourning, as we review and revise our relationship with the deceased as well as with ourselves.

Learning objectives:

• Describe the narrative challenges to a world of meaning occasioned by loss

• Recognize the emergence of embodied meanings related to our grief, giving them symbolic
• Use Composition Work to visualize and voice dialogical relations between aspects of self and
others to promote reconstruction of identity in a difficult period of transition

Room 251 Husserl

“12 Months to Live (or Curious Events on an Audacious Quest to Figure Out a Life): Framing Life as
Personal Projects and Interventions to Deepen Meaning, Accomplish Goals, Discover Vocation, and
David Stefan (1)

(1) Psychology and Counseling, Department of Behavioral Sciences, Indiana Wesleyan University;
Open Road Productions; Life Coach, Documentary Film Producer

This workshop focuses on creating meaning through the development of personal projects
(interventions) related to positive psychology. Specifically, participants will: Review research on the
effectiveness of extended personal projects Identify strengths, values, interests and dreams
through inventories Create personalized positive psychology projects (interventions) to deepen
meaning and well-being The project-based positive psychology interventions and techniques
highlighted in this interactive workshop can be utilized by practitioners for themselves and with
clients to foster meaning in life and strengthen social ties, which are central themes of the 2019 IMEC.
This pre-conference interactive workshop creates space for attendees to develop extended
personal projects/interventions based on positive psychology research and my experience. As a
therapist and a professor of psychology, I have created several personal projects over the last couple
of decades to help me figure out purpose for my life, focus on an area of well-being, and even find a
job. Workshop attendees will craft their own meaning projects as they learn about relevant research
through my journey. In 2008, I resigned from college administration and a counseling practice to
evaluate my life and discern a direction while pursuing interests in writing and documentary
filmmaking. I set out on an extended global research expedition; working in 20 states and 12 countries
on six continents, I fulfilled a vocation exploration project called “12 Months to Live.” I asked myself,
“What would I do if I had 12 months to live?” to help me frame my project. Then each month for the

year, I experimented with a personal passion or new career. I worked with the United Nations World
Food Program in Nepal, walked alone into the Cascade Wilderness in United States for a three
day/three night solo fast vision quest, and shot an adventure film while trekking up Everest. I have
also created yearlong projects to help me write a memoir and to increase a sense of happiness
through writing and delivering letters of gratitude to family and friends. Another endeavor titled,
Project 46: Peace with God, Love in Life and A Job I Like, helped me come out of a severe depression
after a two year period of unemployment. As I present research and lessons from planning and
completing my projects, participants will also identify their interests, dreams and lingering desires
through exercises and then draft initial blueprints for extended positive psychology and personal
meaning projects. Format of presentation: “12 Months to Live” is an interactive workshop around the
research and practice of positive psychology projects and interventions. Participants will be
introduced to research through my journey and then will craft their own meaning projects.

Goal mapping – creating a meaningful way forward
Aleksandra Kupavskaya

Practical workshop “Goal mapping – creating a meaningful way forward” Pre-conference workshop –
3h This workshop is a demonstration of Brian Mayne’s “Goal mapping” method, which has helped
over one million people all over the world to turn their dreams into realities since 1995. The method
is widely used in coaching and psychological private practice as well is in the corporate world, for
example in such organizations as Microsoft, BT, Siemens and others. It works well to build reliable and
efficient daily routines as well as setting a path to achieve big dreams. At the beginning of the
workshop we will have a short introduction to the neurobiology of positive thinking and attitudes that
help us achieve our goals. After that we will do a number of practical exercises to connect you with
your personal meaning and decompose it into goals with an efficient work plan. As a result of the
workshop every participant will: - Listen carefully and connect with what is meaningful right now in
their lives. - Systematize and synchronize their "wants" and "needs". - Balance ambitions and current
reality into achievable goals. You will leave the workshop with a clear and concrete plan, which will
help you remain focused towards what is meaningful for you as well as understanding how this
particular method works. Attention to attendees: Please take coloured pens and pencils with you. The
more is the better!

Room 252 Laing

Mental health in crisis: politics and power in mental health care
Joel Vos (1)
(1) IMEC Chair; Metanoia Institute; New School of Psychotherapy and Counselling; Meaning Online

We live in an era of crises -political, economical and climate. Any normal individual would be
emotionally affected by such crises. Therefore, it is not remarkable that some experts claim that we
currently face the largest crisis in mental health mankind has ever experienced. Almost one in two
individuals experience severe mental health problems during their lifetime. The first part of this
session starts with a lecture which describes how this mental health crisis may be caused by socio-
economic circumstances that hinder individuals in living a meaningful and satisfying life. Specifically, it
will be argued that individuals get frustrated in their meaning by structural crises in their community,
governmental austerity measures, existential crisis, educational and academic crises. The second part

will describe how the mental health care system is in crisis and instead of helping people can
exacerbate their problems. Specifically, it will be argued that the health care system suffers under
financial crisis, biomedical lobbies, unfounded psychological diagnoses, and disorganisation. The sum
of these examples suggest that a small group of powerful individuals benefit from these crises in
mental health and the care system, whereas many more people suffer unnecessary. The theoretical
part of the session will finish with a vision on an alternative mental health care system, which focuses
on the social context of individuals and empowers them to live a meaningful and satisfying life. During
the workshop, individuals will be offered reflective questions, helping to reflect on their own work
and daily life experiences, particularly how they experience the crisis in mental health. In the last part
of the workshop, we will experiment in dyads with an ecological meaning-oriented format of
assessing the needs and strengths of clients, which do justice to the social contexts in which
individuals live. This workshop is based on the book ‘Mental health in crisis’ by Joel Vos, Ron Roberts
and James Davies (SAGE: 2019), which could be read in preparation of this workshop (although pre-
existing knowledge is not required to attend the workshop).

L.1.1. The Relational Landscape of Dialogic Intervention and Creating Meaningful Change
Gary L. Mangiofico (1)
(1) Pepperdine University, Graziadio Business School, Los Angeles, California, USA

What if we saw all meaningful social change efforts as the act of building community? A simple
question that calls up the importance of relational consciousness in leading change, be at an
intrapersonal, interpersonal, organizational, or at a social level. If we accept this idea of communal
and relational properties being at the heart of meaningful transformation, then we are challenged to
facilitate change that is both personal and shared. A change leader must be wise about
understanding the interrelationship of the dynamics created together and how through a dialogic
process the emergent story unfolds to create meaningful change.
This presentation will deal with the idea that our humanness is rooted in our history and the
occurrences that has shaped one’s grand narrative, and therefore not readily changed. These
phenomena are derived from places of discovery in our life, profound moments and events we have
been through along with shared experiences, both big and small and, the nature of our relationships
within those experiences (Mangiofico, 2018). The change agent must navigate this collective
experience and the dynamics created together in any process of change (Mangiofico 2013;
Tannenbaum & Eisen, 2005). This presentation will investigate the transformational change process
that occurs in the context of these dynamics, our co-existence and the meaning that is co-created
(Frankl, 1978). Consequently, recognizing that transformational change is a psychosocial process that
is contingent upon the co-creation of meaning by those involved and their dialogic sense making
(Gergen, 1999, 2009; Mangiofico, 2013; Shaw, 2002; Stacey, Griffin, & Shaw, 2000).
We will explore, a non-linear change model that focuses on the formation of this co-created
narrative (Mangiofico, 2018; Shaw, 2002), relational consciousness (Gergen, 2009) and mutual
influence and interactive cooperation (Kauffman, 1993; Stacey, Griffin, & Shaw, 2000) as useful. This
session will use provocative questions to delve in to four primary sources as the genesis for the social
construction of a co-created/ meta-narrative and six possible characteristics that could support the
relational influence needed for creating meaningful change.

L1.2. 14:45-16:30 A Day in the Shoes of Gen Z: Understanding the World of Young Adults
Ruxandra Anghel (1)

(1) New School of Psychotherapy and Counselling

The session aims to draw attention to the world of young adults of Gen Z (aged 21-25) with the scope
of trying to get insight into their set of values, their passions and the challenges they are facing. With a
better understanding of the frame of reference of young adults, practitioners, parents, tutors,
managers and all adults interacting with Gen Z would be better prepared to engage in a more
meaningful and productive cooperation. By bridging the generational gap, we can create more meaning
in our social lives. This session includes the following aspects:

Presentation of background & theories: a) Aims of session; b) Who are Gen Z?; c) Why is it important
to have insight into their world – importance for practice & impact at societal level & impact on the
individual, dealing with the youngster within us

Room 253 Erikson

E1.1. + E1.2. Interpretative phenomenological analysis workshop
Virginia Eatough (1)
(1) Birkbeck College, London, United Kingdom

This introductory workshop is suitable for people with little experience of using IPA and/or are using
it for the first time. The workshop will cover the theoretical underpinnings of IPA, how to collect high
quality interviews and work interpretatively with interview material. There will be a mix of
presentations and practical group sessions. However, the aim is to be flexible and we will spend
some time on issues and concerns participants might have in relation to their own work.

Room 254 Veda

The meaning of the body
Shulamith Kreitler (1)
(1) School of Psychological Sciences, Tel-Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel

The objective of the workshop is threefold: to present major theoretical approaches to the body in
psychology; to describe a methodology for assessing the body image; and to outline intervention
procedures for improving the body image. All three objectives are grounded in exploring the meaning
of the body. The workshop will focus on presentations, discussion, experiential approach and
practical application. The focus will be on outlining the nature and functions of the body according to
major theories in psychology (dynamic, humanistic, social, and cognitive), exploring the role of the
body in different contexts (e.g., physical health, mental health, interpersonal relations), presenting
some common pathologies of the body image (e.g., body dysmorphic disorder, eating disorders), and
to describe a meaning-based questionnaire for assessing the body image and means for intervention.

Layers of Meaning Workshop (45 mins)
Romy Brooks & Tracey

Our creative activity will look to combine two seemingly different approaches in one and to explore
elements of both.

Drawing on the theory of Roland Barthes’ studium and punctum, we will be exploring self-identity
within the framework of society, through the images and words of magazines and newspapers.
Participants are invited to randomly select images and to create a montage.
We will be looking at how we create meaning through the media and images we chose, then re-
contextualizing our social self (the newspapers and magazine we relate to) to reveal our core self.
Through the layering of mass produced images, we unpeel layers of self identification, in juxtaposition
to our inner and outer worlds.

Working in pairs, we will look at the contextual meanings of our chosen imagery and the interplay of
our emotional and subjective responses; moving from the externalised, mass-produced imagery that
we are fed through media, to an internalised individual meaning that reflects our self in the world.
This way of working juxtaposes our internal-external creative activity which invites participants into a
guided meditation on a journey of self to bring forward a strength; meaning; experience they would
like to encapsulate in a piece of living art. The premise being to give externalised creative expression
to the internalised experience that can act as a reflective anchor that can be added to and grow over

We will combine elements of both:

Creating a visual montage on and with magazines/newspapers, with a further layering on of
colour/objects/materials that evoke a phenomenological response with the hope of conveying a
sense of self within and separate from a social construct.
In pairs, explore our meanings within each other’s work and our own.
End with a reflected guided meditation

M1.1.2. Larger than life

Marta Markoska (1)
(1) Author/poetess, Skopje, Macedonia

The title of my presentation will be LARGER THAN LIFE in which I am planning to introduce my newest
poetry book H/ERO/T/IC BOOK written in the saddest and the hardest period of my life, when I
struggled to survive a breast cancer. Poems from this book are slightly erotic, sensual, yet full of love
and appreciation to certain people who by sharing great love and passion with me, unknowingly and
subconsciously, helped me to overcome the disease.
I found my poetry very suitable for the conference theme, because without love, compassion,
caring and support - we are nobodies. That are the characteristics which are left from us to show our
human nature, otherwise, slowly but surely, we are getting to become robots. We define ourselves
through love, compassion and caring we give to others and accept from others. The World needs
rethinking of human’s relationships. It seems almost everyone struggles from loneliness paradoxically
of the existence of all the Social Medias created so far. We should find a way to reconnect to each
other on more personal level and that’s how I found my book, and especially, the story behind the
book, so helpful in the process of melting people’s hearts.

My idea is to present the poems, reading each with a video performance on the backside, on a
monitor, and at the same time to present the artistic-sensual and profesional photos, which will be
already presented in my campaign for breast cancer awareness.
The intention and affiliation of being a part of this programm is to present my poetry and to tell
my story to the world – how The Love and The Art (and The Love of/for Art and Art of/to Love) can
save your life, literary.
The format of presentation belongs to multimedia presentations which include: photos, video,
music illustration and reading poems on a microphone. So, I’ll join the creatives in the social program
(e.g. art, music, poems, story telling, other) / other (please describe)

Room 255 Martin Luther King

M1.1. (part 1) + M1.2. (part 2)
Radical Change: How Embodied Practice Changes the Way We Change
Dr Greg Madison (1)
(1) London Focusing Institute

Much of our political dialogue at the moment remains at a conceptual level; we debate categories,
definitions, ideologies. In so doing nothing fundamental really changes. It seems most policies and
political parties eventually degrade into rigidity and centralised power, whether from the right or the
left. Below these dynamics, bodily experience generates a wealth of information that is truly
innovative, precise, and creative. Democratic change starts from a different relationship to the body.
In this workshop participants will be introduced to Focusing, a form of embodied self-reflection that is
informed by a tight integration of philosophy, theory, and a natural practice. Focusing has been
integrated into existential and experiential forms of psychotherapy for over 60 years but it has many
other applications. It is a non-oppressive approach that puts ‘experience first’, valuing the person’s
actual sensing of a situation more than theories or ideas. It undercuts ‘external' authorities but also
the ‘internal’ authority including all our concepts of ourselves. With an attitude of not-knowing,
beyond these forms of ‘dictatorship', we find deeper, and inconclusive, meaning through our bodily
living. If we can be open to and welcome all that is happening bodily, we create a template for
inclusivity and diversity externally.

The workshop will proceed in an open participatory manner, including some presentation, some
discussion, lots of opportunity for safe and private experiential explorations.


Room 152/153 Frankl
Starting at 8.30am, Frankl will have a desk for registration, enquiries and book sales. Coffee, tea and
lunch will be provided in this room. There will be many opportunities for social connection and
relaxation in this room. Next to these activities, the following events have been scheduled:

F2.3. Really Real Relating: Using Playfulness As A Tool For Connection

Kyla Sokoll-Ward

We create meaning at the personal and collective level with every interaction we have. How will I, as
an individual, choose to show up in my life, and what does this mean for the world? Our words,
actions, and beliefs are contributing to either a plateau in human connection, or a revolution. By using
the Authentic Relating Games, participants will see how playfulness, empathy, and physicality are all
tools for connection, and how using this connection intentionally can revolutionize the way we lead,
love, and live in an increasingly technological world.
Participants will begin with introductions and an opening circle. We will answer the questions: Why
are we each here? What are the Authentic Relating Games and what do they mean for leadership,
authenticity, and creating meaning in our personal lives and the world at large? We will then play a
"name game" -- one that actually facilitates connection and silliness.
Then, we will dive into the games themselves.
- 2 or 3 games that will facilitate group bonding, physicality, and silliness (about 15 minutes total).
- 1 game for creating curiosity between people (10 minutes).
- 1 game for increasing empathy and group cohesion (10-15 minutes).
- 1 game to solidify gratitude and appreciation for the whole group (5 minutes).
To close, we will take 10 minutes to review what was learned, share reflections, and debrief on how
the connection facilitated in a short hour can translate to our day-to-day lives, and what this means
for the collective level.
These games come from Authentic Revolution, an organization based out of Austin, Texas, USA. I am
not employed by them but have full permission to use the games. The intention of these games is to
foster meaningful, authentic connection (specifically for adults!) in a world where we live in the
illusion that we don't have the time or knowledge to create this type of bond with others.

F2.4. The Visit: Gratitude, Kindness and Other Not So Random Acts”
David R. Stefan (1)

(1) Psychology and Counseling, Department of Behavioral Sciences, Indiana Wesleyan University;
Open Road Productions; Life Coach, Documentary Film Producer
This workshop focuses on positive psychology research and interventions, particularly around
gratitude letters and gratitude visits. Specifically, workshop attendees will: Review research on
positive psychology interventions, focusing on gratitude letters and gratitude visits; Reflect on and
identify people who have made a significant impact on them; Craft gratitude letters through writing
and revising drafts; Design a plan for conducting gratitude visits The practice of gratitude and other
positive psychology interventions are techniques that can be utilized by practitioners for themselves
and with clients to foster meaning in life and strengthen social ties, which are central themes of the
2019 IMEC.
In 2016/17, I created and completed a personal research project that I called, The Visit:
Gratitude, Kindness and Other Not So Random Acts. While I am therapist and professor of psychology,
I continue to wrestle with and conduct research to help me manage my own depression, melancholy
and mental health. When I came across Seligman’s work on gratitude visits, I decided to do The Visit,

a yearlong project that allowed me to reconnect with friends and family and express how I
appreciated them. Research has shown that writing and delivering a letter of gratitude to someone
who impacted your life can boost mood, enrich relationship connections, and increase meaning in life
for up to a month after the visit. After several months of planning, in 2017, I personally delivered and
read letters of gratitude every month for the year to family and friends across the country. This
interactive workshop, The Visit, presents my research findings around gratitude letters and visits,
along with other practical positive psychology interventions related to meaning and mental well-
being. As I present my letters, the writing process and planning steps for the actual visits, participants
will also identify people in their lives who made a significant impression on them, write drafts of
letters and read them to members of the class.
Format of presentation: “The Visit: Gratitude, Kindness and Other Not So Random Acts” is a
dynamic, interactive workshop around the research and practice of gratitude letters and visits. As
mentioned above, participants will be introduced to the research through my own personal journey
but then will reflect on, write and practice delivering their letters to members of the workshop.

F2.5.1. A Poem in Four Movements: Wrestling Truth

Scott Thurston, Sarie Mairs Slee (1)
(1) University of Salford

What does it mean to wrestle with the truth? How do we stand our ground in the era of post-fact, and
fake news? What will it take to avoid being silenced, yet not silencing the other?

These questions are the focus of our collaborative dance and poetry performance. We draw on
philosophy, literature and scripture to inform an embodied exploration of the struggle to accept one’s
own truth, and that of others. This enquiry fits perfectly with the aims of the conference to explore how
to live a meaningful life in a changing society, and how artists can contribute.

This performance emerges from a five-year collaboration between a dancer and poet, a project which
has recently received Arts Council England funding under the title Vital Signs: movement, poetry and
the writing body. Initially an enquiry into the relationship between movement and language, this most
recent production is concerned with how to address ourselves as artists to the current social, political
and environmental conditions in which we find ourselves. Instinctively we felt that the metaphor of
wrestling – encountered in the Biblical story of the contest between Jacob and the Angel – was ripe for
our concerns, and this has entered the choreography of the piece as well as its poetics.

Originally conceived as a c. 30 minute ‘movement poem’, the piece uses a co-choreographed

movement vocabulary alongside the enunciation and inscription of verbal and written text on portable
writing surfaces. The piece has been designed with minimal staging requirements in order to adapt to
different spaces and occasions and we would relish the opportunity to share this work as a way of giving
embodied form to larger theoretical discussions.

The kindness factor
Tom Andrews
How do you put your ideas and values about changing the world into reality? In this
interactive session, Tom Andrews, shares learning and lessons from founding two charities
(Music for Change and People United) and hosts a discussion about communal social change.

Building on publications Arts and Kindness (Broadwood et al, 2010) and Changing the World
through Arts and Kindness (Andrews, Corri, 2017), the session will highlight the background
theory of how arts and creativity can support prosocial attitudes and behaviour. It will also
draw on quantitative and qualitative research, developed over 10 years in partnership with
the School of Psychology at the University of Kent.

At its heart though, this session is about how you translate universal themes such as
kindness, hope, understanding and meaning, into tangible projects that benefit communities.

F2.6. Thinking from the body. Avoiding a top-down use of concepts

Dr Greg Madison (1)
(1) London Focusing Institute

This is an opportunity to let fresh meanings arise while still at the conference. Often during a
gathering like this we notice nascent feelings forming in the body in response to presentations,
discussions, casual conversations. There might be exciting feelings or uncomfortable, niggly, feelings.
Within much of those kinds of bodily feelings are implied deeper ideas and refinements in thinking
that we could bring into our dialogues together.
Sometimes we abandon our own 'knowing' and leap to what politicians, theorists, or experts say
about particular contexts. We look for certainty and security by trying to establish what constitutes
'knowledge' about these challenging situations. It's uncomfortable to fly by the seat of our pants. This
workshop will suggest that underneath ‘explicit knowing' there is another 'knowing' that remains
uncertain and unfinished but more intricate and alive.
The workshop offers a brief opportunity to invite this other kind of 'knowing' by getting a bodily 'felt
sense' of a situation that you currently live in, or something evoked from the conference so far.
Working in pairs, each participant will have the chance to contemplate their body-feel of a situation
or concern, to explore and experiment with what might be known implicitly to see whether that
offers a source of creative and inconclusive thinking that could be brought into our public discussions,
in the conference and further afield.

F2.7. Panel discussion & group reflection

In this session, panel members and audience will be asked to reflect on the main messages or lessons learned
during this day of pre-conference workshops. During the day, audience members can write their contribution to
the following three questions on post-its and put their post-its below the following three questions which will be
put on the wall in Frankl:
1. How can researchers find out what is truly meaningful for participants?
2. What societal aspects limit individuals to live a meaningful life?
3. How would a meaning-oriented society look like?
4. How can professionals stimulate meaningful change in individuals and society?
In this session at the end of the day, someone will summarise the contributions on post-its from the audience,
and the panel members will be asked to provide their reflections on these three questions. We will minute
these answers and publish this on the website of IMEC.
Chair: Tom Andrews/Joel Vos

Room B33 Aristotle
Conference opening
IMEC Chair Joel Vos
Many people have travelled from far to join us in this conference. Some have travelled thousands of
miles to get inspired and to inspire. While you are waiting for the opening to start, introduce yourself
to the people sitting around you and share a smile, as we will be doing this conference together: it is
our connections and our community that will make this conference into a space where something
meaningful can happen. In his word of warm welcome, the conference chair Joel Vos will share his
gratitude and his hopes for this conference. He hopes to set the tone for this conference, one of
connection, inspiration and above all meaning.

Brexit means Brexit: political meanings and personal impacts
Martin Milton (1)
(1) Regent’s College, London, UK
The meaning-related literature contributes a great deal to helping us understand the ways in which
individuals are informed and influenced by the meanings they hold. In this presentation Prof. Milton
explores the ways that wider, sociocultural and political meanings are also powerful in this process.
Brexit is a useful phenomenon to explore as it invokes primitive, powerful and conflicting meanings,
the impacts of which can be seen, illustrated and even counted. These meanings, it is argued, have
direct impacts on our lives.
Prof. Milton will also look at the way that other meaningful sociopolitical discourses have been co-
opted into this process - meanings related to gender, race and class especially. Martin will be
exploring the fact that discrete and intersectional meanings are deliberately utilised to enhance the
impact of certain positions, to inform and influence us as citizens, consumers and individuals, to make
people feel good or make people feel dissatisfied.
While asking questions related to the meaning of these meanings for our political and social lives, we
should also recognize that large numbers of clients bring this material and related confusions to
therapy in the shape of Brexit, Austerity, Climate Change and/or the #MeToo movement. Political
meanings affect us personally and profoundly, sometimes helpfully but also, far too frequently, linked
to experiences such as depression, anxiety, diminished self-esteem and suicidality. Prof. Milton will
therefore consider some possibilities for the therapeutic professions.

A2.3. Applying meaning to life

Roy Baumeister

This talk begins with the question of why living things evolved to use meaning. Some sources of
meaning in life match basic animal patterns (e.g., family, reproduction), while others are uniquely
human and cultural (e.g., religion, art). Life is change that seeks stability, and meaning is a powerful
tool to promote stability. Recent work has emphasized dimensions of life meanings as purpose,
value, mattering, continuity, and coherence. Two key evolutionary steps fostered use of meaning.
First, solitary creatures developed the ability to form mental associations and categories, to facilitate
learning. Second, highly social creatures began to share information and use meaning collectively,
including developing a common stock of shared knowledge. It is puzzling but perhaps revealing that
evolution has stopped short of instilling innate language, contenting itself instead with installing an
avid learning mechanism. The talk closes by pondering what is meaning and concludes it is real but
not physical, though physical creatures with brains can import meaning into physical causality.

A2.4. The economics of meaning in life: the Capitalist Life Syndrome and the Meaning-oriented
Joel Vos (1)
(1) IMEC Chair; Metanoia Institute; New School of Psychotherapy and Counselling; Meaning Online

In this lecture, Dr Joel Vos explores the relationship between the economic system and meaning in
In the first part of the lecture, he will show how traditional models in economics prescribe a
specific type of meanings with a specific approach. Several sociological and economical reviews show
how individuals in different economies have a different sense of meaning in life. These underlying
meanings in the economic system are co-created by citizens and customers, but they are often
particularly strongly manipulated by a small economic and political elite. They have many instruments
to manipulate meaning, such as advertising and media control.
In the second part of this lecture, Dr Vos describes the personal experience of individuals
living in capitalist countries: the Capitalist Life Syndrome. This pseudo-diagnostic syndrome describes
the experience of individuals that their lives have been taken hostage by the capitalist lifestyle,
although they simultaneously enjoy this lifestyle. They have a narrow functionalistic focus on
materialist, hedonic or self-oriented types of meanings and ignore social, higher or more philosophical
types of meaning in life. This syndrome is associated with existential and psychological concerns, such
as burnout, indecisiveness, uncertainty and anxiety. This syndrome seems to underlie the large-scale
mental health crisis in western countries. The existence of this syndrome is supported by a large-scale
review of 107 world-wide in which over 45.000 individuals were asked about their meaning in life, as
well as the results from the World Wide Survey of Meaning in Life which has been filled in by almost
1000 participants world-wide.
In the third part of the lecture, Dr Vos will describe how the experience of the Capitalist Life
Syndrome can lead to citizens and customers rejecting capitalist values and a capitalist lifestyle. There
is an increasing body of literature showing that more and more customers shape their life according
to what they experience as meaningful for themselves -particularly ‘Millennials’-, even if these
meanings are in contrast with their socio-economic context. Several economists and sociologists call
this trend ‘The Meaning-Oriented Society’, with some business leaders expressing their expectation
that by 2020 the economy may already be dominantly meaning-oriented. That is, customers and
citizens want to have meaningful experiences and products reaching beyond mere functionality or
nice hedonistic experiences: the experiences and products have to be meaningful.
In the last part of the lecture, Dr Vos will explore how citizens and customers can transition
from the Capitalist Life Syndrome to the Meaning-Oriented Economy. He will give examples how
individuals could live a meaningful life within capitalism, live outside capitalism, fight against
capitalism or create a post-capitalist utopia. This meaning-centered utopia would aim at guaranteeing
the universal human right for a meaningful life.

12.45PM Mental health in crisis (book launch)
Joel Vos (1), Ron Roberts (2) & James Davies (3)
(1) IMEC Chair; Metanoia Institute; New School of Psychotherapy and Counselling; Meaning Online
Ltd. (2) Kingston University (3) University of Roehampton

Based on decades of research, three eminent researchers on mental health, together

with the advocacy group Psychologists for Social Change will present a new book on
the state of mental health.

‘The crisis is here, the crisis is now!’

Joint statement by the leaders of the main British psychological bodies, including the
British Psychological Society, the UKCP and the BACP. Foreword in: Vos, Roberts & Davies, 2019.

What is the nature of the crisis? The mental health care system is in crisis. This year, one in four
people will experience a mental health problem. Over the course of their life almost one in two will
suffer from psychological problems. Almost 6,000 people will die from suicide this year - more than
three times the number of deaths due to traffic accidents. Untreated mental health problems cost the
British economy £94 billion each year, a sum comparable to the annual state budget for education. In
December 2018, a consortium of 150 user-led organisations, allies and individual campaigners, led by
the National Survivor User Network, concluded that the UK government refuses to accord people with
mental health diagnoses full human rights. In the same year the presidents of all British psychological
bodies concluded that mental health care has been structurally underfunded. Evidence strongly
suggests that the diagnostic system is unscientific and flawed, that many treatments are not effective
and that vested interests exert a disproportionate and disturbing influence on how the mental health
system operates.
Why do so many people suffer from mental health problems? Most psychological difficulties are related
to the events and circumstances of one’s life. We live in a world of multiple crises which adversely
affect our well-being– these include financial uncertainty, benefit cuts, and discrimination. Research
shows that several groups are structurally more likely to suffer from mental health problems. These
include women, those with low socio-economic status, Black and Asian Minority Ethnicity (BAME),
Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer and Intersex (LGBTQI), and people who are disabled or living
with a chronic or life-threatening physical condition. Given such stressful circumstances and the
added effects of our current political and environmental crises it would be unusual if people did not
experience mental health difficulties: these need to be considered as normal responses to abnormal

How does the care system help people? Though much has improved since the days when individuals
were shunted off to asylums, and many practitioners do offer excellent care, much remains to be
done. The pharmaceutical industry continues to exert an unhealthy influence, not only in the pricing
of drugs but in lobbying for new psychiatric diagnoses which can be targeted with industry products.
With this comes a lack of transparency: more than half of the existing mental health budget is
unaccounted for, and freedom of information requests from the British Medical Association are
returned unanswered. Furthermore, the new system of Improved Access to Psychological Therapies
(IAPT), was introduced by politicians and lobbyists with industry ties. Many of the treatments offered
under IAPT are rigid and ineffective. Although internal NHS reports point to many people recovering
from mental health problems, these reports fall short on detail. Independent research suggests
substantial recovery is experienced by under 10% of those entering treatment. Many mental health
care workers experience burnout and doubt the quality of care they deliver.
What can be done? An overhaul of the system is urgently needed. The British Psychological Society
has argued for a complete overhaul of the diagnostic system with service users and mental health

advocates given a larger voice in policy-making. Mental health difficulties need to be seen not as
problems confined to the feelings and thoughts of individuals, but as issues which may require far
reaching social change. Finally, the authors call for urgent investigation and political scrutiny of the
corruption, cronyism and fraud in mental health care.

A2.5. Existential Therapy, Multiculturalism, and Social Justice

Louis Hoffman (1)
(1) Private Practice, Colorado Springs, USA; former Saybrook University
Existential psychological perspectives have long recognized that individuals must be understood in
one’s context in the world, including their social and cultural context. For existential psychology to
reach its full potential in making a positive impact upon the world, it is necessary to take seriously
issues of multiculturalism and social justice. This presentation explores an existential-humanistic
foundation for psychotherapy and social justice activism.
It is common for therapists to focus on helping clients adjust to their situation and decrease individual
suffering. Often, this serves to help people adjust to an unhealthy environment, instead of engaging in
what Martin Luther King, Jr., calls “creative maladjustment.” Consistent with existential approaches,
creative maladjustment helps individuals consider their engagement with their environment with
awareness and intentionality. Clients may choose to adapt to their context despite the negative or
harmful implications, or they may choose strategies to confront or change their environment. Often,
clients find sustaining meaning that can transform their suffering through choosing strategies to
confront unhealthy systems.
When existential therapists work with individuals while ignoring the systems impacting the individual,
they limit their potential as change agents. As therapists, we have a unique vantage to understand the
implications of nationalism, polarization, racism, homophobia/transphobia, and other harmful trends
common in the world today. At times, we are called to engage the world beyond the therapy room to
promote change. An existential-humanistic foundation can help inform how we engage in social
justice advocacy and activism through promoting personal freedom and choice, meaning, and human
A2.6. The psychology of fascism
Dr Neil Faulkner FSA (1)
(1) Author of Creeping Fascism: what it is and how to fight It (2019), A People’s History of the Russian
Revolution (2017), A Radical History of the World (2018).

This contribution will comprise general political and social theory, and will use a Freudian-Marxist
framework to explore the psychological underpinnings of the global upsurge of nationalism, racism,
and fascism in the second decade of the 21st century. It will situate this ‘crisis of meaning’ in the
context of the atomisation, alienation, and anomie characteristic of modern neoliberal society.
Wilhelm Reich attempted to explain the psychological underpinnings of interwar fascism in a classic
work of Freudian-Marxist analysis, The Mass Psychology of Fascism (1933). Reich argued that the
fascist mentality was rooted in the patriarchal-authoritarian family. Erich Fromm, in another classic
work, The Fear of Freedom (1941), argued that political authoritarianism was rooted in a more generic
anxiety prevalent in class society.
Drawing upon both approaches, but also extending the analysis to take account of developments like
more liberal-egalitarian family structures and more child-centred approaches to socialisation, I will
argue that we face an epidemic of mass psychotic rage rooted in atomisation, alienation, and anomie
– an epidemic with the potential to tear society apart. In particular, I will endeavour to extend the
insights of Reich and Fromm with reference to the work of Otto Rank in The Trauma of Birth (1929)
and Sandor Ferenczi in Thalassa: a theory of genitality (1933), arguing that their work takes us
towards the deepest roots of anxiety and authoritarianism.

A.2.7. Rediscovering Meaning in Psychology and Psychotherapy: On feeling good and on being good
for something
Alexander Batthyany (1)
(1) University in the Principality of Liechtenstein; Viktor Frankl Institute, Vienna, Austria

In recent years, the role of the meaning/purpose in life construct has been addressed from two
apparently diverse perspectives - positive psychology and existential psychology. Although these two
may have common ground, their respective perspectives on meaning and purpose differ significantly:
positive psychology's focus on human strengths tends to emphasize the brighter side of human
functioning, whereas existential psychology, traditionally, tends to address meaning as a matter of
responsibility and includes in its modelling also the more unsettling aspects of human existence, such
as guilt, suffering, and mortality. It is quite remarkable, therefore, that these different approaches have
come to view meaning and meaning awareness as central psychological (and philosophical) factors,
relevant both for human striving and for human coping.
In this presentation, we’ll look at some hitherto rarely acknowledged common roots of both positive
and existential psychotherapy, namely the early European existential psychotherapy movements, i.e.
Jaspers, Kierkegaard, and, more recently, Viktor Frankl and his original logotherapy and existential
analysis. The latter’s theoretical and clinical foundations are presented in this talk – and it is shown that
by rediscovering the roots of both existential and positive psychologies, a number of the differences
and conflicts between both approaches turn out to be only apparent rather than real.

'Part god, part animal. Which part of being human gives us meaning?'
Digby Tantam (1)
(1) New School of Psychotherapy and Counselling, London, UK

The philosophers associated with the existential tradition have been particularly preoccupied by the
experience of nothingness, an experience that is similar if not pragmatically the same as the
experience of meaninglessness that was of central concern to Frankl. Both experiences, it is usually
argued, can only be transcended, not cured or pathologized. Transcendence, another key
existentialist idea, is generally described as requiring an act of imagined connection with others
through ideas or the narrative reformulation of existence. This transcendence from on high is not the
only possibility. There is also the possibility ‘depth transcendence’, or immersion in what Edith Stein
called our primordial, that is our reflexive and non-linguistic, connection with others and it is how this
can combat meaninglessness that will be subject of my lecture.

Room 251 Husserl


H2.1.1. Narrative Identity: From The Inside Out

Lee Newitt
Lee Newitt (1)
(1) Buckinghamshire New University, Department of Psychology

This article will share the preliminary findings from a wider and ongoing interpretive synthesis
of narrative identity literature. First, we provide the analogy of Dante’s journey through the
‘inferno’ to contextualize the review. Second, we share interpretations of literature pertaining
to how life stories create meaning and suggest polarity might play an important role in forming

complex and coherent meanings of life and selfhood. Meaning making in life stories is seen as a
dynamic position of equilibrium between polarities in experiences that lead to themes and
patterns. We suggest as an example the interplay between self and the world creates a
person’s sense of agency, the extent a person believes they create their world or are created by
it. Third, we interpret literature pertaining to how meaning creates life stories and suggest
some examples of practise that may increase complexity and coherence through the expression
and embodiment of meaning. Concluding by asking, if it is the balance between these different
experiences of meanings that provide a person with the greatest sense of who they are?

H2.1.2. A Narrative Analysis of New Mothers’ Experiences of Not-Understanding

Elizabeth Simmons (1)
(1) New School of Psychotherapy and Counselling, London, UK
Some experiences feel significant long before we have made sense of them. An experiential narrative
analysis was conducted with the primary aim of exploring experiences of not-understanding arising
during the transition to new motherhood. The secondary aim was to interrogate the role of narrative
in such experiences.

Data from eight first time mothers of babies between six and twelve months old was collected, using
a single semi-structured interview format. Participants were asked what motherhood had been like
for them, and any emerging experiences of not-understanding were explored. Participants were then
asked to reflect on what it had been like to talk about their experiences. The data was analysed using
a systematic interpretative perspective-taking framework adapted from Critical Narrative Analysis.
This allowed for an interrogation of both what was said and how it was said.
Participants’ experiences of not-understanding were intentional and context-driven. Five
psychological functions of not-understanding were identified. Not-understood experiences were
associated with disrupted narratives, and with the themes of vulnerability, maternal decision-making,
and connection/disconnection. Narration was found to be the means of both expressing and
negotiating conflicting meanings.
It is argued that clinicians should consider that not-understanding can be a productive and purposeful
space to inhabit, and that taking the time to explore this space phenomenologically can generate
possibilities for moving forwards. Rather than assuming that mothers simply need to be advised of
what to do, maternal service providers might recognise and nurture the courage it takes to inhabit
the psychological space of not-understanding, because this may better prepare new mothers to take
and live with decisions in uncertain situations. The results also challenge theories which assume that
responses to meaning disruption are unconscious, universally negative or independent of context.

H2.1.3. The journey of pregnancy after stillbirth: finding meaning and hope.
Margaret M. Murphy (1), Joan O Leary, Keelin O Donoghue, Eileen Savage, Patricia, Leahy-Warren
(1) School of Nursing and Midwifery, University College Cork, Ireland

Introduction Perinatal death is an unexpected life event. Globally 2.6 million babies die before
their birth each year. Most couples will proceed to a subsequent pregnancy, within a very short
timeframe. The experiences of couples during perinatal death and pregnancy after loss, have long-
term repercussions for couples, families, and society.
Aim To explore how couples support one another in making meaning of their loss, their
decision making around pregnancy after loss, and how couples make meaning and experience hope in
subsequent pregnancy.
Methods Following ethical approval from the local hospital ethics committee eight
heterosexual couples, in the immediate pregnancy following stillbirth, agreed to participate in this
study which was informed by and Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis approach. Joint, face-to-

face interviews lasting 70-120 minutes were conducted with couples in the third trimester of the
immediate pregnancy after stillbirth.
Results Hope and meaning making were key findings of this study. Even when couples
received a poor pregnancy prognosis they still retained hope that their baby would be born alive.
Hope and meaning were key concepts in couples coming to terms with the death of their baby and
were paramount to their decision making around subsequent pregnancy and the journey of
pregnancy after loss. How couples nurtured hope for one another during pregnancy after loss will be
Conclusion Perinatal death can fracture hope in the normalcy of pregnancy and couples can
struggle to make meaning of loss. Working together, couples can support and nurture hope in each
other and help with meaning making.
Informed by the work of Antonovsky, Neimeyer, and Frankl amongst others, the results of this
doctoral thesis dovetails with two of conference themes namely meaning and positive psychology,
and empirical experiential qualitative research. Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis
underpinned this study exploring the experiences of heterosexual couples in pregnancy after loss.
Prior research in this area has focused on pathological consequences of stillbirth and pathological
outcomes such as anxiety and depression in pregnancy after loss. Adopting a salutogenic perspective,
this study sought to understand the experiences of women and men who choose another pregnancy
after experiencing the loss and grief of stillbirth.

H2.1.4. Meaning and the therapeutic relationship: First results from a mixed-method study
Siebrecht Vanhooren (1)
(1) Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences of KU Leuven, Belgium

Meaning in life has been repeatedly associated with psychological health and well-being. In
humanistic, psychodynamic, existential, and meaning-oriented psychotherapeutic approaches,
meaning has also been considered as a central aspect of the therapeutic process. Another key aspect
of the therapeutic process is the therapeutic relationship. As Angus and Greenberg (2012) suggest,
the therapeutic relationship might serve as a safe haven from where clients embark on their search
for meaning. Empathy – considered as a central quality of a therapeutic relationship – can be
considered as co-constructive meaning-making process and can increase a sense of coherence.
Feeling understood could also have an influence on one’s sense of existential significance.
In two mixed-method cross-sectional studies (N=145, session 1; N= 96; session 5) we
explored how meaning in life, the therapeutic relationship, and psychological distress were related in
the early stages of psychotherapy. We discovered four different meaning profiles at the onset of
therapy and also a full mediation of the therapeutic relationship and psychological distress by
meaning in life in the fifth session. Case studies show a more intricate story. The first pages of this
story – or results of this research – are adventurous and promising.


EASE Wellbeing application of a protocol, research and findings

Mark Rayner (1), Chekkie Kauntze (1, 2), Lauren Sayers (1), Josef Kala (1, 2)
(1) EASE Well-Being, London, (2) New School of Psychotherapy and Counselling, London, UK
In this presentation, we will provide an overview of an intervention delivered in the public sector in
primary care that centres upon a phenomenological investigation of assumptions, beliefs, attitudes
and values, proposes applying existential attitudes to understand the breadth of human experiences
presented and proposes humanistic principles to notion of recovery.
Phenomenology surveys the landscape of living experience and alights upon the positions taken up by
clients in respect of their worldviews that are elicited through an examination of the aforementioned

biases and considerations. This allows for closer scrutiny of that which emerges and leads to greater
understanding of self, others and the world.
Existential attitudes relate to applying tenets from existentialism to practice in several ways.
Temporality is looked at, both in terms of how experience is accumulated and conceived of in the
immediacy of the therapeutic encounter and also considered in terms of how a person’s future goals
to live a more satisfying or fulfilling life can be considered by examination of that which may be
hidden and revealed through the exploration. Furthermore, existential ideas lend themselves to
deconstructing the medicalisation of everyday life and allow for distress to be contemplated rather
than disability treated.
This leads to the notion of humanistic thinking which surround a re-evaluation of recovery as being
one where change is involved but that change may be the result of improved understanding and that
understanding is a valid and measurable form of change.
At the heart of this presentation is the discussion of contemporary research that has been conducted
around clients’ experiences of therapy and we discuss some of the key findings from this research
which centre around revealing or discovering new meanings. This NHS ethically approved qualitative
research is innovative and ground breaking and both speaks to the value of personal stories in
therapy and challenges the assumption around manualised treatments evolved from RCT type

Room 252 Laing


L2.2.1. Creativity and meaning

Shulamith Kreitler (1)
(1) School of Psychological Sciences, Tel-Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel
Creativity is one of the most intriguing phenomena, grounded in a complex network of cognitive,
affective, motivational and sociocultural factors. Meaning has long been assumed to play an
important role in creativity, both in regard to expressing in an integrated manner different
psychological variables of the creating person, as well as contributing to the bridging of the
psychological variables with the external sociocultural environment. The empirical findings of two
studies will be presented briefly. The participants in both studies were practicing artists and students
in art schools. One of the studies examines the motivational aspects of creativity in terms of beliefs
orienting toward creativity (according to the cognitive orientation theory). The findings reveal two
major motivational tendencies: one oriented towards self expression, the other towards contributing
to the welfare of others. The second study examines the meaning assignment tendencies of creative
individuals (according to the Kreitler meaning system). The findings show that the meaning profile of
creativity is based on tendencies expressing both interpersonally-shared meanings and personal-
subjective meanings. The studies express the double meaning of creativity focused on the self and
others. The role of meaning seems to be in bridging the two poles and reconciling potential
inconsistencies and conflicts between them.

L2.2.2. The analysis of haiku poems as -a feedback tool of gay Christian men
Remziye Kunelaki (1), Selim Cellek, Carrie Roder, Zoe Bennett
(1) Anglia Ruskin University, Chelsea and Westminster Hospital

This study is part of a qualitative research project aiming to understand the experience of gay
Christian men attending a series of workshops collaborated by a sexual health expert and the Church.
The study’s relevance to the theme of the conference is both from the methodological perspective,
which is phenomenological, and from the innovative and creative aspect of using haiku poetry as an

evaluation tool. Both interpretative phenomenological analysis and haiku poetry are used in this study
to understand and explore the deeper meaning of the participants’ experience.
A brief introduction will explain the aims of the study and provide the rationale for utilising haiku
poetry for the collection of feedback following a series of workshops. The themes of the workshops
are: being a minority within a minority, shame and guilt, coming-out process, interrelation of sexuality
and religion, the sexual experience of gay Christian men and integration and authenticity.
The two -part approach taken to the analysis of 63 poems will be described. Firstly, the analysis of
the poems in traditional haiku style drawing on principles from Asian philosophy and secondly the use
of interpretative phenomenological analysis to explore the symbols attached to the poems, both
overall and according to the specific workshop themes.
The results will show how the workshops have ‘touched’ the participants in creative, spiritual,
phenomenological and philosophical terms. The discussion will include some further
recommendations on the application of haiku poetry for the evaluation of workshops and research in
the future.

L2.2.3. Wisdom as Embodied and Embedded Process: an integrative model

Sarah Smith (1)
(1) Buckinghamshire New University
"If there is anything the world needs, it is wisdom. Without it, I exaggerate not at all in saying
that very soon, there may be no world." (Sternberg, 2003, p18).
In recent years, the psychological study of wisdom has begun in earnest. Numerous studies
are casting light onto the nature of wisdom and its development. Whilst wisdom is often seen as the
pinnacle of human development beyond the reach of most people, recent findings are suggesting that
access to wise thinking may be more variable than previously thought (Grossmann, Gerlach &
Denissen, 2016). Insights into situational factors that could nudge individuals towards wiser reasoning
are emerging (Grossmann & Brienza, 2018) and the importance of meaning-making, emotions and
social interactions are being highlighted (Westrate & Gluck, 2017; Grossmann, Oakes & Santos, 2018;
Igarashi, Levenson & Aldwin, 2018). At the same time, the psychological study of wisdom has
generated over twenty-four different definitions of wisdom (Gluck, (2017).
Using a qualitative analysis approach an integrative review of the literature was conducted.
Six themes were identified that not only synthesise multiple perspectives on wisdom, but also offer an
integrative model of wisdom as an embodied and embedded process. It is argued that wisdom may
emerge and develop in the combination of and interaction between individual resources, situational
contexts, cognitive processing and embodied actions, which are supported through individual and
collective meaning making. A synergistic dynamic process through which enhanced levels of wisdom
may be realised, leading to wiser individuals and wiser societies. The model will be presented,
supported by theoretical and empirical studies, and opportunities for further research and wisdom
interventions will be proposed.
Life offers experiences within which wisdom may emerge, but we are not all guaranteed to
become wiser. Our collective and individual meaning-making processes may be key. We are currently
facing some of the most demanding global challenges ever faced. The world is becoming increasingly
complex and we are challenged to respond. Wisdom may be more important than ever. Reflecting the
very tenets of Second Wave Positive Psychology (Ivtzan, Lomas, Hefferon & Worth, 2015), a dialectical
approach to understanding human experience and advocating for balance and integration is core to
wisdom. Arguably, wisdom should be core business for positive psychology.

L2.2.4. Developing mindful citizens

Kelsey Evans-Amalu (1)
(1) College of Community Innovation and Education, University of Central Florida, USA

Within education, students are taught (formally and informally) what it means to be a
good or effective citizen. The National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS, 2001) states that

the primary aim embedded in education “is to help young people develop the ability to make
informed and reasoned decisions for the public good as citizens of a culturally diverse,
democratic society in an interdependent world.” With this purpose in mind, teachers are charged
with teaching citizenship-related topics that can be considered taboo, insensitive and/or
controversial (e.g. LBGTQ rights, abortion, gun control, etc.). However, in an era of political
divisiveness, how should educators teach controversial topics related to citizenship education?
Based on our experiences, we suggest teachers utilize mindfulness meditation (MM) and social
emotional learning (SEL) tools to help students understand and process controversial topics and
possible discomfort in the classroom when exploring such material. We suggest teachers
construct a safe space and embrace controversial instruction by implementing “non-judgmental
awareness, a sense of contentment and emotional balance, coupled with a sense of kindness and
compassion” into the classroom (Hutchinson et al., 2016). The following presentation explores
the use of SEL and MM as possible self-regulation strategies to utilize when exploring lessons in


Meaning in the workplace: A French perspective

Symposium organized by Jean-Luc Bernaud

Presentation 1
Recommendations and interventional strategies for developing the meaning of work
BERNAUD Jean-Luc; BAUDE Mathilde; ARNOUX-NICOLAS Caroline (1)
(1) CNAM (Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers), Paris, France

This communication values the concept of meaning, in particular the development of work meaning
in organizations. The presentation is based on a comparative approach of different methods and
research. It is therefore adapted to the title of the conference on “personal and social power of
The major changes of the 21st century beg that we ask ourselves the place that work
occupies as well as its meaning in our lives (Crawford, 2009, Rifkin, 2014). The question of “the
meaning of work” has more specifically become the object of recent study, especially in matters
associated with health at work and well-being (Arnoux-Nicolas and al., 2016; Dik, Byrne, & Steger
2013; Rosso, Dekas, & Wrezesniewski, 2010). A plethora of projects, with varying approaches and
contributing to the development of the meaning of work, have been completed. This presentation
aims at analyzing and comparing various projects looking to develop the meaning of work. For
example, some programs are put together with an organizational or managerial approach (Morin
2008; Barralis & Pagès, 2013) whereas others are based on an individual approach using the concept
of job crafting or individual / group coaching (Bernaud and al. 2015; Demerouti, 2014). This
communication delves into the idea of combining these approaches to develop prevention systems
based on empirical evidence. Finally, it will touch on possible research themes so as to better
understand the processes and development of the meaning of work. This is completed by research
and meta-analysis showing the scientific soundness of interventions in the workplace to improve
health at work (Parks & Steelman 2008; Richardson & Rothstein, 2008).

Second presentation
The reciprocal relationships between the Meaning of work and career changes: studies among French

(1) CNAM (Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers), Paris, France
This presentation shows significant reciprocal links between the Meaning of work and career changes
through three separate studies and sheds new light on these relationships. Understanding meaning of
work and its interactions with career path will offer new directions in developing counselling
In our contemporary society, the nature of careers is characterized by many changes and
ruptures (Savickas and Pouyaud, 2016). Some researchers have highlighted negative relations
between meaningful work and withdrawal intentions (Allan, Batz-Barbarich, Sterling, & Tay, 2018 ;
Steger, 2012). In this presentation, overall results show significant reciprocal links between the
meaning of work and career changes, through three separate studies. An initial qualitative study
based on semi- structured interviews with administrative staff, aims to better understand how the
individual constructs meaning after an employment change (Arnoux-Nicolas, 2015). In the framework
of a second quantitative study conducted with 501 administrative staff working in French universities,
hierarchical regression analyzes indicate that personality and subjective indicators of professional
mobility explain respectively 17% and 21% of the variance of the meaning of work (Arnoux-Nicolas,
2015 ; Arnoux-Nicolas, Dosnon, Lallemand, Sovet, Di Fabio, & Bernaud, 2016). These results
specifically highlight the importance of the individual's perception of the experienced career change
in the understanding of the meaning of work. A third quantitative study with a sample of 336
employees working in diversified professional fields, shows the influence of the meaning of work on
withdrawal intentions, as well as the role of mediator of the meaning of work between job
dissatisfaction factors and the withdrawal intentions. Finally, we shall discuss the fact that
understanding meaning of work and its interactions with career path will offer new directions in
developing new counselling interventions.

Third presentation
Meaningful work as a necessary condition for job satisfaction
SOVET Laurent; CARVALHO Simone; ZENASNI Franck (1)
(1) Laboratory of Applied Psychology and Ergonomics (UMR LaPEA), Paris Descartes University,

Meaningful work represents a relevant concept to capture the one’s subjective experience at
work. Previous studies found that meaningful work is associated with various outcomes (Allan, Batz-
Barbarich, Sterling, & Tay, 2018) and could be beneficial at both individual and organization level
(Steger & Dik, 2012). Our purpose is to provide a new approach to look at the relationships between
meaningful work using necessary condition analysis (Dul, 2016).
A recent meta-analysis published by Allan, Batz-Barbarich, Sterling, and Tay (2018) provided
supporting evidence for the beneficial influence of meaningful work on various self-rated
organizational outcomes among employees. A large effect size was estimated with job satisfaction (𝑟𝑟̅
= .74). Nevertheless, such findings do not inform clearly about how high meaningful work should be
to experience high satisfaction in the workplace. To answer this question, we used a new approach
called necessary condition analysis (NCA) which has been designed to explore the relationships
between two variables in terms of necessary condition (Dul, 2016). The purpose of the study was to
determinate the minimum level of meaningful work to reach in order to achieve the highest job
satisfaction rate. A sample of 176 French workers completed a questionnaire assessing meaningful
work (Arnoux-Nicolas, Sovet, Lhotellier, & Bernaud, 2017) and job satisfaction (Fouquereau & Rioux,
2002). The measure of meaningful work included four distinctive dimensions: importance,
understanding, direction, and purpose of work. All of them were strongly correlated with job
satisfaction but differential effects were found in terms of necessary level. Indeed, for a job
satisfaction level of 60%, the necessary level of understanding was 6% while it ranged from 17 to 38%
for the other dimensions. The relevance of using NCA for exploring variability and individual
differences in meaningful work will be discussed.

Room 253 Erikson

Communities of meaning: Education for meaning in a changing world -Theoretical and practical
Pninit Russo-Netzer (1), Shimon Azoulay (2)
(1) University of Haifa \ School of Arts and Society, Ono Academic Center, Israel (2) Ono Academic
College \ Hebrew University, Israel

"Education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world." - Nelson Mandela.
Education is one of the most powerful gateways for social change mobility. It is also a potential
vital backbone of the development of young people's sense of meaning, purpose and responsibility,
capable of facing the unique challenges of the VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous)
world of our times. Thus, in face of current global political and social changes, a renewed examination
of the educational system and its challenges is called for. The change cannot only be cosmetic, such as
adding content to the curriculum, but a fundamental change in educational thought and practice.
This symposium will include two presentations. The first presentation will introduce some basic
assumptions about the tensions and contradicting aims of education*. Then we will introduce a
suggested model of communities of meaning (COM) as a potential integrative conceptual and
practical response to such challenges and to both education for meaning and meaningful education. A
community of meaning requires both active attempts from the individual to express his/her unique
footprints in a given community, and authentic resonance from the community to allow visibility of
these footprints.

The second presentation will include an empirical aspect presenting studies on meaning in life among
children and adolescents, and a practical aspect demonstrating pedagogical principles and
educational practices designed to turn an educational community to a community of meaning. Some
of these interventions and practices are successfully implemented in schools in Israel.
*The formulation of the educational ideological tensions is a re-interpretation of the challenge posed
by Zvi Lamm in his book on "Conflicting theories of instruction", according to which there are three
logics of education. The problem is twofold: On the one hand, education always requires a practical
decision, and on the other hand, there is a structural contradiction between these theories. We
always lose something or create a confused system with a double or triple message. This challenge
creates intellectual and educational distress for educators and educational systems

E2.2.1. Meaning-making through the life cycle – a developmental approach

Martin Adams
Although meaning-making is a defining feature of human life, comparatively little attention has been
given to the ways it changes through life, from birth through to death.
An existential phenomenological approach to human development reveals that we do not move
passively from one quasi-biological stage to the next, as stage theory suggests, rather that human
development is a constant, active, deliberate and chosen process of meaning-making and meaning-
Life certainly has a biological dimension; we are born and then die and always in that order and we
are all subject to maturational processes, but our existential development can be gauged by our
learning about the paradoxes and dilemmas of existence. It is about how we recover from misfortune,
about how we meet freedom and responsibility and how we see our place in the unfolding history of

The developmental model most consistent with an existential phenomenological approach to
meaning-making therefore, is a life-long process model based on the acquisition of the skills of living. It
is inevitable that at different ages, times and places, different skills will need to be acquired; what we
need changes as we go through life, but it is these skills that lead us to make choices about the future
on the basis of incomplete knowledge about the past and the present.
Life is an incomplete project, and knowing that life will never be something we can fully master is
what makes it exciting and worth persevering at.
This talk will expand on all these points by drawing on the work of Søren Kierkegaard, Friedrich
Nietzsche, Martin Heidegger, Jean-Paul Sartre, Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Simone de Beauvoir.

E2.2.2. Meaning-oriented personality

Dmitry Leontiev (1)
(1) International laboratory of positive psychology of motivation and personality at Higher School of
Economics, Moscow, Russia, Professor of psychology, Lomonosov Moscow State University.
The meaning boom of the 2010s in academic psychology challenges the status of the personal
meaning concept and requires more complex, multidimensional and systemic views. It also challenges
the mainstream views on personality, for personal meaning fails to fit either the trait vs. state
dichotomy and the cognition vs. emotion one.
Trait theory has no place for meaning, because it is based on strict Aristotelian causality,
where all bodies behave in a predictable fashion always revealing their predetermined inner nature.
Meaning finds its place only in the teleological alternative that depicts humans as striving toward
goals, something ideal yet to come true. Capable of managing one’s way to a goal, the human being is
self-regulating; able to choose, set, and construe goals for oneself, the human being is self-
determining; capable to transcend and to grow over oneself, the human being is self-organizing.
However, a reduced option is easily available: many humans spend their life simply gratifying inner
impulses and adaptively responding to stimuli.
The author’s Multiregulation Personality Model (Leontiev, 1999; 2004; 2012) listed seven
regulation systems underlying seven logics of conduct, from drive gratification and responding to
stimuli to free choice and conceiving the nature of things; some of them being more or less common
for all living organisms, some specific for humans, some only for some humans. Meaning regulation is
based on felt ties with one’s life-world at large, rather than with the situation here-and-now, and
suggests that actual behavior conforms to the former, rather than just to the latter; it is specific for all
humans and complements the logics of being driven by inner urges and external stimuli.
Meaning-oriented personality appears as self-regulated personality which is not strictly
determined exclusively by biological and social needs (Maddi, 1971), but rather is capable of
autonomous goal-setting, construing a future time perspective and perspectives of the possible, and
flexibly controlling its way toward the desirable. Unlike goal-oriented personality, s/he is capable even
to revise and change the goals themselves.

Room 254 Veda


"But what about you?" - Death awareness and meaning in health care professionals
Christian Schulz-Quach (1)
(1) E.g. New School of Psychotherapy and Counselling, London, UK
In modern society public discourse on dying and death has become more prominent over the past
decade, however, scholarly attempts to systematically explore the phenomenology of death
confrontation within a professional context are so far fragmented. Repeated death confrontation is
part of the professional role in hospice and palliative care. It is also an institutional duty, which binds
health care professionals to normative and regulated behaviour (e.g. Oliver, Porock, & Oliver, 2006;

Seymour, 2000). It is an existential and phenomenological given of health care professionals who care
for the dying to encounter dying patients, dead people, and to be existentially present (being-with)
during the transformation of the other from “dying” to “dead” (e.g. Klass, 2015; Ramsay, 1995; Zust
2006). It follows that these individuals must have at the least an implicit knowledge and
understanding of what “death of the other” means to them (Gamino 2012; Hinderer 2012).
Interestingly, although the potential risks involved in working in a field of frequent death
confrontation are well documented, including burnout, compassion fatigue (CF) and poor quality of
care, the reported numbers remain consistently low in palliative care as compared to other medical
specialities (Asai et al. 2007, Dunwoodie and Auret 2007).


V2.2.1. Life Meaning and Search Activity as “Nucleus of Spiritual Health

Peter Indursky (1)

(1) Somnology Lab, J. S. Co. NEUROCOM, Moscow, Russia

At the base of Frankl's Logotherapy, there is a conceptual position about a person’s striving for life
meaning. In a certain context, there is also a search activity. According to Rotenberg, Search activity is
one of the main forms of human motivated behavior. Search activity refers to the behavior aimed at
changing the unacceptable situation or at maintaining a favorable situation despite the action of the
factors threatening it, or changing attitudes towards the situation in the absence of a specific forecast
of its results, but taking into account the degree of its effectiveness. In case of noogenic neurosis,
search activity acts as a form of psychological defense of personal meaning. In the case of noogenic
neurosis, caused by the reduction of personal meaning, there is also a reduction in Search activity, a
reduction in creativity and a feeling of love. In this case, human behavior goes through the stages of
panic, then stereotypical activity until the complete disappearance of any activity. Under the
conditions of activating Search Behavior, a person rushes to a personal meaning. The task of a
logotherapist is to offer a client who has lost his meaning or is looking for it, as a rule, a complex of
creative and vital tasks in the search space, which will guide the client to independently determine his
personal meaning. The correlation of personal meaning and Search activity is the personal “nuclear of
spiritual health” of human.

V2.2.2. Godless Mystics: do atheists find meaning in their mystical experiences?

Alice Herron (1)
(1) University of Surrey (current); Fordham University (imminent)

Presentation of a study which found that mystical-type experiences can be conceptualised as

intuitive meaning-making efforts occurring when there is a discrepancy between situational meaning
and an individual’s global meaning construct.
Mystical experiences can be profoundly meaningful events in the lives of those who have them.
Reports of such experiences have been studied extensively in psychology of religion, however most
previous research has focused on religious believers. Where non-believers were included in earlier
studies, they tended to comprise only a small percentage of the research participants. The aim of the
study was to explore, for the first time, the spontaneous mystical-type experiences of a number of
self-identifying atheists, and to examine how they made sense of their experiences without a religious
or spiritual framework to guide their interpretation. Twenty-nine participants were recruited from
atheist, non-religious and sceptical organisations. Constructivist grounded theory was the chosen
analytical method for the study. Through analysis of participant's written accounts and in-depth
interviews, the study explored what atheists understood to be the meaning of their experiences both

at the time of the reported event and their current understanding; what effect, if any, it had on their
lives and whether their atheist identity was affected by the experience. A model for the experience
was identified that highlighted the importance given by participants to the context of their experience
and the atypical circumstances in which they found themselves prior to it. The analysis also
highlighted the tensions between the intuitively perceived meaning of the experience and
participant’s atheist identity. Three pathways were identified as to how the atheists resolved the

V2.2.3. The extraordinary in the ordinary: Skychology – the future of wellbeing is looking up
Paul Conway (1)

(1) University of East London

What do people experience when they look up at the sky? What role, if any, does the sky play in the
experience of wellbeing? Against a backdrop of unprecedented global urbanisation, the erosion of
meaningful interactions with nature and changing nature of interactions with one another, the
answers to these questions matter. Research has neglected intentional interactions with the sky,
presenting a gap, and opportunity, to understand the phenomenological experience of looking up at
the sky and evaluate its efficacy as a Positive Psychology Intervention. Four participants, who self-
reported as having a fascination with the sky, shared their experiences during in-depth, semi-
structured interviews. The results surfaced three super-ordinate themes:
1. ‘It’s one of my needs’
2. ‘This is gonna make me feel better’
3. ‘Amazement. Almost every time’

Their experiences suggest looking up at the sky could be operationalised as a PPI, with future
directions presented for researchers and practitioners to positively impact lives across the world. The
sky is the world’s first, most powerful social media platform. It has all of the benefits (always on,
always useful, always engaging, always authentic) without the drawbacks (no fake news here folks).
By looking up we can find connection (to nature) and each other (through a shared experience of the
human condition). It is a constant companion that grounds us in the present and embodies a window
to the experience of awe, prompting existential questions about the nature of the universe and our
place within it.

V2.2.4. Wisdom within Meaning Systems: Can Modern Research, Lived Experience, and Traditional
Sources Converge to Characterize Wisdom?

Roger Tweed

This session will involve discussion of wisdom within meaning systems. There may be convergence of
modern research findings on wisdom, some traditional perspectives on wisdom (e.g., Cicero,
Taoism…), and lived experience regarding wisdom. Research-based measures of wisdom will be
described, and relevant research findings will be explained. Participants may take part in discussions
addressing convergence between empirical research, some historical truth claims, and participants’
lived experience regarding wisdom. The goals of this session are to provide both practical discussion
of wisdom and to provide guidance for researchers who may want to study wisdom.

Room 255 Martin Luther King

M2.1.1. Virtue ethics in psychotherapy

Carmel Proctor

A number of current theoretical psychologists and philosophers have begun to consider the
application of virtue ethics in psychotherapeutic practice. Indeed, Aristotelian philosophy provides the
starting point for considering the intersection of philosophy, positive psychology, and psychotherapy
with regards to the cultivation of character in pursuit of human goods and meaning. The aim of this
talk is to advance the idea of how therapists and others can weave virtue ethics into their
psychotherapeutic practice and become attuned to opportunities that afford them the ability to open
up and unpack virtue ethical themes, such as character strengths, values, and virtues. Presented will
be a brief overview of the literature in this area, along with selected vignettes and a case example as
demonstration in practice.

M2.1.2. Self-Studies: Skills for optimum creativity, integrity and self-transformation

Zayd Awan (1)
To navigate complexity you need to be able to contact and maintain connection with your deepest
sense of what is right, to create solutions to conceptual and personal obstacles, and you need to be
able to change when encountering what you know to be righteous or in the face of the new. With
these process skills you can process any situation to the best of your ability in that moment, to
understand what new skills of knowledges you may need to handle it better, and have the skills to
overcome internal emotional and conceptual difficulties in learning these new skills and making
changes that you fee to be righteous.
The presentation will go over the 5 skills sets involved in Self Studies and provide an opportunity for
participants to try out these skills on any conceptual or personal problem they may be having. The
skill sets in brief are:
Presence: This is a state of non-resistance and non-attachment to what ever form the present
moment takes. It is the precondition for the other skill sets.
Parts work: Healing and relaxing automatic safety seeking sub-personalities
Soulfulness: Contacting your deepest desires and integrity in the moment and across your life
Focaling: Accessing the creative capacity of the body to overcome conceptual and personal obstacles
Process work: Dealing with psychosomatic body symptoms, movement impulses, fantasies that
express neglected aspects of your deepest self or that present resistance to new experience.
Adventuring: Taking in ideas and experiences in the deepest way they can transform you. To be able to
change when you want to without continuing the eternal internal war of will-power.

An evidence-based creative intervention for depression
Joanna Omylinska-Thurston, Aisla Shaw Parsons, Vicky Karkou (1)
(1) Greater Manchester Mental Health Foundation NHS Trust, (2) Psychology, Dance and Movement
Psychotherapist, University of Salford (3) Arts and Wellbeing Research Group, Edge Hill University
IAPT (Improved Access to Psychological Therapies) is the main provider of psychological
therapy for adults in the NHS (National Health Services in the United Kingdom) and it offers mainly
CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapies) and talking therapies. NHS Digital (2016) reported that the drop-
out rate in IAPT is as high as 43% indicating that interventions offered are often not helpful. Clients
commonly indicate that they find creative approaches meaningful but they are not available in the

NHS. For example in a survey of service users conducted by Mind, 70% of participants found arts
psychotherapies beneficial and made them the top three treatments of choice (Dudley 2006). To
address this gap, we created a new creative intervention which we will present during the
The presentation will showcase a new creative psychological therapy for depression. The new
intervention is based on findings of an ongoing interdisciplinary research study (Arts for the Blues)
that draws on arts therapies theory, research and practice as well as NICE recognized therapeutic
interventions for depression including counselling for depression, brief psychodynamic psychotherapy
and cognitive behavioural therapy. The design of the intervention is based on a thematic synthesis
(Thomas & Harden, 2008) of helpful factors within the above therapeutic interventions as well as pilot
workshops testing the key ingredient of the emergent framework.

The new creative therapy is a pluralistic, client-led, structured and multimodal creative
intervention for depression. It includes activities focused on connecting with the arts and the body
(e.g. through images or gestures emerging from a body scan), experiencing and expressing emotions
(e.g. using improvised movement or image-making on a specific topic), sharing with others (e.g. using
mirroring or interactive scribbling), working with insight (e.g. using imagery, symbolism and
metaphor), learning skills (e.g. mindful movement, breathing exercises, use of particular material in
art-making) and integrating useful material back to one’s life (e.g. developing choreographic
structures) (Parsons et al submitted for publication).

During the presentation, we will discuss the theoretical and methodological underpinnings of the
intervention. We will also guide participants through some gentle activities introducing the
intervention in an experiential way.


Room 152/153 Frankl
Starting at 8.30am, Room Frankl will have a desk for registration, enquiries and book sales. Coffee, tea
and lunch will be provided in this room. There will be many opportunities for social connection and
relaxation in this room. Next to these activities, the following events have been scheduled:

8:30 registration open

F3.3. The Fun Factor (workshop)

Lowri Dowthwaite (1)

(1) Faculty of Health & Wellbeing, University of Central Lancashire, Preston, UK

This interactive workshop explores what fun is, where it comes from and how we can have more of it
at home and at work. We will examine why fun is a fundamental human need and how fun and
playfulness can improve wellbeing and buffer against stress. The session will also introduce
participants to engaging techniques and strategies that will help them to explore what fun means to

This session draws on research from positive psychology and neuroscience to support the benefits of
creating more opportunities for fun in our adult lives. We will also explore philosophical concepts of
fun and meaning.

Painting workshop:
Becoming a warrior through meaningful practice
Annie Zamero, independent painter, Magma Group

Having meaning in one’s life gives a sense of purpose and engages us in the present moment
when we practise our chosen activity. The workshop aims to demonstrate that whilst we focus on the
activity all concerns and worry are annihilated, which thereby brings about internal transformation
through which we become a ‘warrior’.
With a ‘warrior’ painting to illustrate, I will talk about the meaning of being a warrior and how
I found enhanced meaning in my life by practising art.
I will give a live demonstration on how to draw a head, and then distribute drawing materials.
I will ask the audience to close eyes and remember a period of distress and engage with those
feelings. To then open eyes and take turns to draw the person next to them and be drawn.
To then ask the audience what they felt whilst drawing - probably they could not draw and focus on
feelings at the same time.
To conclude that engagement with drawing took the mind away from distress, demonstrating how a
meaningful practice can be transformative.
Format of Presentation
Introduction and Live Demonstration
Audience participation by focusing on feelings, then drawing
Audience explain feelings/experience whilst drawing
Summing up
Q and A

F3.6. F3.6. William Blake Workshop

Stephen Micalef

Our poet in residence, Stephen Micalef, will give a workshop on William Blake together with his
partner Helen. He is one of the founders of the William Blake Congregation. William Blake was an
English pre-Romantic poet, thinker and painter (1757-1827). He had a deep spirituality and a
rebellious spirit. He strived for the humanitarian goal of wholeness of body and spirit. Without using
the term ‘meaning in life’, this was what much of what his work was about. In this interactive
workshop you will engage in poetry and painting. More info will follow soon!

F. Panel discussion & group reflection

In this session, panel members and audience will be asked to reflect on the main messages or lessons learned
during this day of pre-conference workshops. During the day, audience members can write their contribution to
the following three questions on post-its and put their post-its below the following three questions which will be
put on the wall in Frankl:
1. How does society influence the meaning in the lives of individuals?
2. How can individuals change the larger-scale meaning or narratives in their community or society?
3. How can researchers make their research meaningful for wider society?
4. What does society ask from us to do with our privileged position and expertise?
5. How can we carry the new insights into our practice and research of daily life?

In this session at the end of the day, someone will summarise the contributions on post-its from the audience,
and the panel members will be asked to provide their reflections on these three questions. We will minute
these answers and publish this on the website of IMEC.

Chair: Tom Andrews/Joel Vos

Room B33 Aristotle

IMEC Chair Joel Vos
The second conference day starts with a brief reflective opening. What have we learned so far? Who
have we met? What has been meaningful? The challenge of peak experiences like conferences is that
they are extra-ordinary, out of the ordinary, disconnected from our daily life. How could we use our
experiences from the conference at home, in our work and our personal life? What do we need to
keep focused on what is meaningful in our daily life, when the stress and struggles take over our
minds and hearts?

A3.2. Forces that Nurture and Undermine Meaningful Lives

Carol Ryff (1)
(1) Institute on Aging; Hilldale Professor of Psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Unlike approaches to well-being focused on happiness, my eudaimonic model draws deeply

on existential, humanistic, and developmental formulations of optimal human functioning.
These point to distinct aspects of well-being such as purposeful life engagement and personal
growth. Both demand meaning-making activities. Growing science now documents that
such inner experiences matter for people’s health, including how long and how well they live.
My presentation will first focus on forces that nurture meaningful lives, giving particular
attention to the arts and humanities (music, literature, poetry, dance, film, theatre, visual
arts, philosophy, nature). I will argue that these domains are invaluable places for finding and
creating meaning, including in contexts of adversity. The second part of my talk will focus on
forces that undermine meaningful lives, giving primary emphasis to problems of greed among
privileged elites. Greed at the top will be examined not as a moral issue, but as a window on
powerful forces that obstruct the human potential of those below – effectively rendering
meaningful living an unattainable luxury for many. I will sketch new directions in science
needed to illuminate these pernicious processes. A larger message from the talk as a whole
is that irony (juxtaposition of opposites) may the mountaintop of human meaning-making.

A3.3. Attending to and disclosing the meaning of our emotional lives.

Virginia Eatough (1)
(1) Department of Psychological Sciences, Birkbeck University of London, UK

In this talk I will explore how some key concepts from phenomenological philosophy and hermeneutic
theory can help further our understanding of emotional experiences. In particular, I draw on
Heidegger’s ideas of Disclosure, Befindlichkeit (literally “how-one-finds-oneself-ness”) and Stimmung
(typically translated as “mood” or “attunement”) suggesting that these concepts provide useful ways
of understanding concrete situations in which people talk about things like emotions, moods and
feelings. Similarly, language itself is disclosive, an aspect of the wider phenomenon of disclosure. On
this reading, language becomes a form of practical engagement from out of which we speak in order
to express how we find ourselves in a meaningful world. I place interpretation at the heart of the
endeavour to understand emotional life and throughout the talk illustrative examples from my
empirical work are given in support of my argument.

A3.4. The Political Edge of Existential Therapy

Emmy van Deurzen (1)
(1) New School of Psychotherapy and Counselling, London, UK

Existential therapy concerns itself with a person’s position and situation in the world at many different
levels, including in the physical environment, in their social relationships, in their internal world, and in
relation to their philosophical or spiritual beliefs. The cultural and political aspects of their lives are
considered to be of great importance as they may facilitate or constrain and always shape a person’s
personal experience of the world and its possibilities and limitations. This talk will focus specifically on
the political edge of a person’s experience and how this may affect their sense of themselves and may
limit or expand their potential and their projects.
Illustrations will be provided from recent work with EU27 citizens in the UK who have found themselves
in a difficult and insecure position since the UK referendum of 2016.

A3.4.-New meaning network: call for interested people

Yannick Jacob, Pninit Russo-Netzer, Joel Vos, Jonathan A Smith

Would you like to be part of a new network of practitioners, researchers

and others who are interested in meaning?
Some of us have been discussing this idea and we would really like to talk about it with other people
who may be interested. This conference is an obvious place to do so. If you are interested, do come to
an informal meeting on Sunday lunchtime- at 12.45pm in Room Aristotle. Feel free to bring your

Meaning is at the heart of the psychological, social and spiritual experience of being human.
Individuals try to make sense of things that happen to them, their life experiences, the world around
them and their self. We believe researchers and practitioners from many different disciplines have a
fundamental interest in meaning and meaning-making and may welcome a pluralistic community
bringing together a range of different voices, approaches and interests.

For example, phenomenologically oriented human science researchers are interested in how
participants describe and/or make sense of their experiences, existential therapists are concerned
with attempting to help individuals make sense of their lives and to lead meaningful lives while many
others have their own angle on meaning, which will contribute to our understanding of meaning and
how it may contribute to individuals and communities. We would like to invite academics,
practitioners and other professionals from a range of disciplines who share our passionate concern
with the meaning of things.

We are excited by the possibility of bringing together people from these different academic
and professional domains. We believe that conversations between individuals using different
methods and having different ideas about meaning can help to develop innovative ideas and
practices. We believe that it will benefit the research and practices of all, when we connect with each
other, and have a shared promotion and representation of our expertise towards society. This unity
does not mean that everyone needs to agree with one narrowly defined set of ideas, but instead
means the acknowledgement of the diversity of experiences and visions.

We are at a very early stage of our thinking and would like to hear what other people think. E.g.

• What are the different conceptualizations of meaning that people are using?
• What is the scale of convergence and divergence between them?
• Which groups would you like to have better communication and dialogue with?
• What sort of activities would you envisage a meaning community engaging in?
We look forward to seeing people who are interested in discussing these things at the meeting.

A3.5. Directionality: a purpose-centred basis for integrative therapeutic practice

Mick Cooper (1)

(1) University of Roehampton, Centre for Research in Social and psychological Transformation

With over 450 different forms of counselling and psychotherapy now available, the therapeutic field
offers both a richness, and a cacophony, of diverse approaches. So how can we go about integrating
into our therapy a range of different concepts, principles, and methods, while continuing to think and
practice in a consistent way? This lecture introduces a new approach to thinking about integrative
practice, grounded in meaning- and purpose-centred principles. Based on Mick Cooper’s latest book,
Integrating counselling and psychotherapy: Directionality, synergy, and social change (Sage, 2019), the
approach starts from the assumption that human beings are directional—agentic, future-oriented,
and towards-their-world—and that psychological difficulties emerge when people are unable to
‘actualise’ their deepest directions (such as the desire for relatedness, self-worth, or spiritual
fulfilment). From this perspective, different therapeutic models can be seen as ways of helping
people ‘get back on track’: for instance, through finding meaning (existential therapies), through
uncovering what their deepest directions are (humanistic therapies), through overcoming internal

directional conflicts (psychodynamic therapies), through developing skills to be better able to
actualise their directions (behavioural therapies), or through tackling external obstacles (social justice-
based therapies, such as feminist therapies). By the end of the lecture, participants will have gained
an understanding of a new model of therapeutic integration; and an ability to apply these concepts,
methods, and principles in their own work.

A3.6. Engaging with Life: Synchronicity Experiences as a Pathway to Meaning in Life and Personal
Pninit Russo-Netzer (1)
(1) University of Haifa, Israel

One of the central components of meaning in life involves the experience that life “makes sense” and
represents a coherent whole. It was found that exposing people to examples of discrepancy and
incoherence in nature or society decreased their sense of purpose in life as well as their willingness to
engage in purposeful pursuits and goal-directed actions. Yet, despite advances in our understanding
of meaning-making and meaning-detecting processes, less is known about individuals’ sense-making
of uncertainties involved with random events or unexpected coincidence. Synchronicity refers to the
psychological process of meaningful coincidences. Although it is deeply rooted in early psychological
theory, less attention has been paid to synchronicity experiences as an everyday phenomenon. Based
on existing literature, the growing need for a better understanding of synchronicity experiences is
especially relevant due to a) the rather high estimated frequency of its occurrence among non-clinical
populations, and given that, b) such experiences may pose potential threat on individuals’ sense of
certainty and control in their lives, c) synchronicity awareness may foster growth and well being by
ehancing a sense of meaning in life.
The talk will present a proposed model based on findings from a study project aiming to
extend existing knowledge in the meaning literature by exploring synchronicity experiences.
Specifically, the research project (Russo-Netzer & Icekson, under review) aims to explore the
perceived characteristics of synchronicity experiences as well as their possible benefits. The first step
included an analysis of qualitative date derived from in-depth interviews with adults from varied
backgrounds through a bottom-up approach. Findings yielded a dynamic model of three major
building blocks (REM). Receptiveness (R), an increased attention and openness to feelings and
cognitions as well as to the external environment, viewed as a pre-condition to; Emotion evoking
experience (E), a sudden unexpected event according with an inner feeling or thought, commonaly
evoking memorable and distinctive emotions; and Meaning detecting (M), described as a concious
process of connceting the event to one's self while re-validating a sense of coherance, porpuse and
control in life. Several possible outcomes of synchronicity awareness were also identified: (a) an
enhancement of positive emotions, specifically of alignment and conncetion, vitality, and engagement
with life; (b) a sense of coherence in life; and (c) greater intrinsic motivation, self-direction, and
purpose. Overall, the findings suggest that paradoxically, through a process of awareness and
reflection, sudden chance encounters that potentially threaten or destabilize a sense of coherence
and meaning, may also yield an enhanced sense of meaning in life. This may contribute to a dynamic
cycle that may enhance an orientation of a 'learned meaningfulness' rather than ignoring or rejecting
unexpected triggers. Theoretical and practical implications of the findings will be discussed to convey
the potential importance of such exploration to individuals’ navigation and coping with uncertainties,
multiplicity and ambiguity of the current human condition.

A3.7. Is there a crisis of meaningfulness a modern phenomenon? – A historical analysis of key
transitions in the Western culture
Frank Martela (1)
(1) Aalto University, Finland

Meaning of life has become a key existential theme in the increasingly secularized and individualistic
(Western) world of the 20th and 21st century. However, both within psychology and within philosophy,
meaningfulness is mostly discussed as an ahistorical topic. However, as I will aim to show in my
presentation, it is actually certain key historical developments that have made it possible to ask the
question in the present form. For thinkers like Aristotle or Aquinas, the whole question would not
have made sense. An understanding of the history of meaningfulness would be illuminating both to
theorists and practitioners of meaningfulness.
Following calls to develop a more historically grounded science of psychology (e.g. Cushman,
1990), the present article aims to examine the question how meaning of life has become a problem in
Western countries during the last two centuries. The article is based on a historical analysis of various
primary and secondary sources that have discussed the question of meaning of life in the 19th and
20th century. A particular emphasis is on the pioneers of meaningfulness, including Thomas Carlyle,
Arthur Schopenhauer, Søren Kierkegaard, and Leo Tolstoy, and the cultural changes and changes in
the religious worldview (Taylor, 2007) that led them to experience a crisis of meaningfulness in the
19th century.
As a starting point, it is observed that the whole phrase meaning of life was only coined in
1834 by Thomas Carlyle (O’Brien, 2014), and it is shown how it was only the loss of the certainty of
the religious framework that made it possible to experience what we tend to call an existential crisis
or a crisis of meaningfulness (Hyman, 2010). A look at the biographies of the pioneers of
meaningfulness reveals the religious struggles they all went through. General trends in religiousness
in Western countries are examined and compared to other explanations to examine to what extent
the emergence of the scientific worldview and individualistic humanism are the central factor in
leading to the crisis of meaningfulness becoming, in the 19th century, possible in the first place, and
then, in the 20th century, more prevalent.

A3.8. The Off-Modern

Ron Roberts (1)

“We might be living on an edge of the era when the accepted cultural myths of late capitalism and of
technological or digital progress no longer work for us. We are right at the cusp of a paradigm shift,
and to anticipate it we have to expand our field of vision.” (Svetlana Boym, 2017)
The relationship between the personal and the socio-cultural-political realm can be considered the
core problem of the social sciences in so far as it attempts to reckon with the human condition. It was
addressed by artist, cultural critic, writer and philosopher Svetlana Boym in a series of bold and
imaginative works reflecting on the nature of our personal and collective relationships to the past, our
culturally enshrined ideas of freedom and the ensuing longings and belongings that define our time
here. Svetlana coined the term the ‘Off-Modern’ in her treatise on nostalgia (Boym, 2001) - widely
considered a defining text on the human condition in the late 20th and early 21st century. Her work
offers a perspective which is of immense psychological relevance. Here I will discuss her ideas of
estrangement, art as a form of politics, the reinvention of psychology and how to live a meaningful life
‘off the beaten track’, exploring the “side alleys and lateral potentialities of the project of critical
modernity” (Boym, 2008).

Room 251 Husserl
H3.1.1. Creating Permanency Through Spirituality (45 mins)

Terri Nicole Sawyer (1),

(1) Private Practice, Capella University, Utah, USA

Permanency is the named connection between two people who are invested in each other. But what
happens to foster youth when their biological connections are severed and permanency is at the
mercy of the paid professions who support the youth? Is there something else that can lift a foster
youth so they will not fall to the streets, the addictions, or the dark places that surround them? Some
believe that federal dollars can bring stability and now there are others that feel that spirituality can
bring so much more.

Transitioning out of foster care can be difficult for many former foster youths, and those experiences
are different for each former foster youth. Understanding the differences and the difficulties they
may have experienced can help in understanding what future foster youth may experience as they
transition out of the foster care system. What transition challenges are former foster youth
experiencing as they transition out of foster care? What interventions do the former foster youth feel
are supportive and not supportive in their transitions? Former foster youth were asked a series of
open-ended questions to probe deeper into the transitions that were experienced. The questions
allowed participants to provide a qualitative response based on their transitions and from their own
experiences. The qualitative data were summarized to highlight individual experiences and provided
the participants a voice in order to tell their story of transition. The responses and the data revealed
that former foster youth struggle to feel supported even when financial and education assistance was
able and when health insurance and housing were provided. Many of the former foster youth
expressed a deep need for connection through spirituality. Why does spirituality go unspoken in
research with foster youth?

H3.1.2. Is Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis a 'New Materialism'?

Tony Wilson (1)
(1) University of Glasgow, London School of Economics, University of London, UK

Connecting people, connecting concepts, the slide presentation is shaped by preceding resources in
‘Conceptual Developments for Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis’ (Smith, 2018) as well as
Consumption, Psychology and Practice Theories: A Hermeneutic Perspective (Wilson, 2018). Both
articulated ‘theoretical conceptions offered by some of the writers (referenced therein), in particular
Heidegger, Taylor, Giddens, and Svenaeus’ in a ‘search for experiential meaning’ (Smith, 2018: 15).
The presentation endeavours to engage with this empirically instantiated theoretical trajectory using
the analytical framework of ‘New Materialism’ (Barad, 2003): 'agency is about the possibilities and
accountability entailed in reconfiguring material-discursive apparatuses of bodily production' (827).
Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis instantiates a hermeneutic perspective on practices
wherein research participant understanding is construed as being practical or ‘practical engagement
with the world’ (Smith et al., 2009: 17), preceding participant reflective propositional understanding
as narrative manifested during their interviews. The paper suggests hermeneutic analysis recognises
eight fundamental characteristics (or phenomenological 'moments') of meaning-making practices in
completing its empirical studies. Elucidating these aspects of recurring activities is ‘phenomenology

being used a priori and methodologically’ (Tomkins and Eatough, 2013: 260), shaping IPA research
sighting thematic ‘viewpoint-as-embodied-presence’ (ibid: 265).
Research participants' practices are: (i) emergent in reflective ‘discursive consciousness’
(Giddens, 1979); (ii) embodied (Heidegger, 1962); (iii) equipped (ibid.); (iv) emplacing an affective
‘horizon’ (Gadamer, 1975) of thematic insight, open to being 'viewed' further in discussion; (v)
generic, goaldirected, 'textual' (Ricoeur, 1981a); (vi) generating, 'refiguring' participant identity
(Ricoeur, 1988); (vii) celebrated or open to a 'distanciated' (Ricoeur, 1981b) criticism; (viii) 'boundary
objects' (Star, 2010) thus diversely viewed across institutions, from family to hospital.
Exemplifying these eight hermeneutic 'moments' ((i) - (viii)) of an Interpretative
Phenomenological Analysis the paper turns to empirical research (e.g. Parkinson's Disease patient
experience of Direct Brain Stimulation: Shahmoon, Smith and Jahanshahi, 2019), re-viewing patient
narratives from this horizon of understanding. These behavioural accounts are then considered from
the New Materialist perspective, suggesting parallel insights into embodied or material 'agential
performativity', enabled by 'apparatus'. A 'move toward performative alternatives to
representationalism shifts (...) to matters of practices/ doings/ actions' (Barad, 2003: 802) in its
empirical analyses.


H3.2.1. Living with a chronic illness: the challenge of meaning

Evgenia T. Georganda (1)
(1) Hellenic Association for Existential Psychology
Human beings are meaning making beings. The question of meaning becomes more salient when
someone suffers. It is not only finding meaning in suffering per se that is important but also valuing
life as such. Is there any meaning that makes life worth living and struggling for? The issue of
compliance is often referred to in medical conferences as the most important problem for patients’
survival. Medical personnel, however, rarely ask the question of what gives the motivation for
compliance, especially to treatments that are painful and disruptive of the quality of life of the
In my personal journey in life (living with a chronic and life threatening blood disorder) and my work
with chronically ill individuals it is evident that existential issues have a vital importance. The illness
highlights our being-towards-death and makes denial of death more difficult. As a result anxiety and
depression are often higher than in the general population. Furthermore, the issue of freedom and
responsibility is clearly more potent since the patient has to take his/her life in his/her hands and
decide how to cope with the illness. The issue of loneliness is also powerfully present since the
awareness that no one can really take our place and suffer instead of us. The presence of others is
valuable but nonetheless does not take away the awareness of our existential isolation. Finally, the
why I want to continue to live despite suffering is ultimately related to survival per se.

H3.2.2. The meaning of chronic pain acceptance

Ute Liersch (1)
(1) Birkbeck, University of London, UK

Chronic Pain (CP) has an estimated prevalence between one-third and one-half of the UK’s
population. Increasingly CP is managed through ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) based
on the evidence that chronic pain acceptance is correlated with a reduction in anxiety, depression,
and disability. Yet, many patients drop out or do not attend their acceptance based treatments which
posed the question whether contemporary pain management guidelines omit data from pain

sufferers who do not attend. Ten patients from this group were interviewed at a London National
Health Service outpatient pain-management service, to investigate their lived experience of chronic
pain acceptance. These interviews were analysed using hermeneutic phenomenological thematic
analysis (van Manen, 2016).
Acceptance, as a psychosocial strategy to alleviate chronic pain, is becoming popular in NHS
health settings - also through the rise of ACT (acceptance and commitment therapy), a third-wave
behavioural modality. The third wave presents acceptance as a choice: behaviour that shows the
person’s willingness to engage with difficult sentients and sensations in service of living a valued life.
However, my research indicates that we must be mindful to differentiate between acceptance and
accepting. Acceptance of CP appears to be an Heideggerian facticity, over which we have no choice
and which does not indicate how “well” a person can live with their pain. CP acceptance presented
itself as the acknowledgement of pain’s reality in the interviewed pain-bearers’ life.
Accepting of chronic pain, however, showed to be a relational process between the pain, the pain-
bearer and significant others. The quality of this relationship allowed understanding of how the pain-
sufferers was able to be with their pain and engage in a meaningful life.

H3.2.3. The meaning of prostate cancer for younger men and its effect on their daily lives
Bróna Mooney, Gerard Fealy, Philip Larkin (1)

Meaning is central to understanding the phenomenon of being a younger man with prostate cancer
and the aim of this inquiry was to gain an understanding of the complexity of those meanings. A
cancer diagnosis challenged the belief systems of younger men and was a catalyst which promoted
men to find meaning in their experience, and how to learn to live with the uncertainties inherent in
being a cancer survivor.
Prostate cancer is the most common male cancer in Ireland and approximately one third of
men are under the age of 65 years at time of diagnosis. Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis was
used to examine 26 younger men’s experience of prostate cancer (mean age 49 years) and facilitated
the researcher to develop an understanding of the socially-constructed multiplicity of meaning of
being a younger man with prostate cancer in the context of masculine identity and daily life.
Existential topics like the meaning of everyday life come to the fore when life is threatened by a
cancer diagnosis. Men’s testimonies in this study point to evidence that the meaning of cancer had
various aspects of loss encased in it for participants and influenced how men came to terms with their
diagnosis. Prostate cancer also impacted on younger men’s daily lives, particularly with regard to their
physical and emotional health, relationships and social life. The experience challenged men to find
meaning in their experience as they adjusted to the impact of disease specific side-effects. The
experience also afforded men the opportunity to view life as precious and finite and resulted in them
re-prioritising their lives and developing a sense of gratitude and appreciation for being allowed a
second chance.

H3.2.4. Social Support a Key Protective Factor of General Health of People Living With HIV: An
Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis
Saima Ehsan (1), Syeda Shahida Batool (2)
(1) Department of Psychology, Foundation University, Islamabad
(2) Department of Psychology GC University, Lahore

Social support significantly enhances physical and mental health of people living with human
immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Present study uses the qualitative methodology of Interpretative

Phenomenological analysis to explore the lives of eight people living with HIV in Pakistan with the aim
of Illuminating the “buffering Impact of social support” and providing information to help clinicians,
HIV consultants ,family members and spouses to support completely HIV positive patients in the
future. One important theme that emerged in the data set of our study was connected to the
experience of receiving social support revealed that social support is a key protective factor in the
general health and psychological well-being of people living with HIV. Findings of the study revealed
that participants who had strong social support from family members, spouse support and doctors
support appeared to cope better with their Illness and therefore had a very secure and calm impact
on their sense of self because it helped them in coping with threatening challenges of self ,
environment and living with HIV. From this finding it can be safely concluded that having more
extensive supportive networks will prove beneficial with better coping with HIV.

H3.2.5. Existential learning and adolescent identity: finding meaning of boundary situations
Noora J. Ronkainen (1), Tatiana V. Ryba (1), Jacquelyn Allen-Collinson (2)
(1) University of Jyvaskyla, Department of Psychology, Jyväskylä, Finland; (2) University of Lincoln,
School of Sport and Exercise Science, Lincoln, UK

Our presentation links to conference themes of globalisation, change of relationships, and

shifting personal values. In this era, elite sport has become more competitive than ever, with
increasing pressure for adolescent athletes to specialise at a young age and prioritise athletic
excellence over relationships, educational ambitions and other dimensions of the self. What happens
to those who cannot realise their athletic dreams? How do they find meaning from the loss of athletic
career and identity? In focusing on these questions, we anticipate that our presentation connects
with prof. Neimeyer’s keynote “finding meaning in loss”.
Existential psychology places emphasis on boundary situations as a potential source of
learning and development. These experiences are situations when one’s identity does not fit the new
demands and experiences, bringing forth existential insecurity and often leading to a more profound
change in one’s mode of being. Our study aimed to understand identity learning through boundary
experiences in adolescence through the story of “Pilvi”, a pre-elite Finnish alpine skier who
terminated her promising athletic career at the age of 18. She was interviewed using a low-structured
approach, twice before and twice after her athletic retirement. We analysed her story using
existential-narrative approach (Richert, 2010) with a focus on boundary situations and loss of athletic
identity. A pivotal moment for Pilvi was the introduction of new skis that she could not adjust to,
shattering her athletic identity that gained meaning from athletic success. The disruption also
revealed the loneliness of her sport life-project underpinned by a lack of shared meaning with her
father, teammates and coach. After abandoning her sport life-project and experiencing a personal
crisis, she reflected on learning about her emotions, accepting her limitations and “wasting time” in
sport; however, she also sought to transfer her sport life themes of success and winning to education
to bring continuity to her identity. The tension with her father shaped her storytelling throughout the
interviews. We discuss the implications of our findings for psychological and career counselling
services for talented adolescents.

Room 252 Laing

L3.1.1. Coaching and the quest for meaning

Yannick Jacob (1)
(1) Existential coach

The coaching profession is one of the fastest growing industries worldwide. Coaches are being hired
with great success by every major organization on the planet and Forbes called life coaching “one of
the fastest growing six-figure careers in the United States”. Traditionally focused on performance
improvement and behavior change, an increasing number of clients now seek out coaches to create
more meaning in their lives and careers. This trend is accompanied by a number of challenges and
important ethical questions for coaches as well as clients. The quest for a meaningful existence often
involves to dive deeper into an exploration of self and potentially challenging the client’s worldview,
including strongly held beliefs and core values, as part of the process. Questions arise as to whether
coaches are sufficiently trained to offering such services in a safe setting. Due to the profession’s lack
of regulation a very broad spectrum exists with regards to different coaching approaches and the
quality of its practitioners, while clients are usually unable to distinguish between them and hence
tend to be at the mercy of on the coach’s sales skills and marketing efforts. In addition, the landscape
of our world is changing radically in the face of climate change and the 4th Industrial Revolution and
with the emergence of artificial intelligence and other exponentially growing technological
advancements, our experience of being human in a VUCA world (volatile, uncertain, complex,
ambiguous) is likely to be altered to a point where a large number of people will need psychological
support. This talk will present some of the key issues that emerge when coaching is sought out in an
attempt to find or create meaning as well as other forms of support traditionally attributed to the
therapy space. It will illuminate recent developments in coaching psychology and discuss the
boundaries between coaching and other professional services as to provide a better understanding of
how coaches may contribute to our quest for a (more) meaningful existence.

L3.1.2. How to stimulate meaning at work

Rosita Girjasing & Fred-Jan Nesselaar (1)

(1) Dutch Institute for Logotherapy and Existential Analysis

The social power of meaning (theme of the conference) is directly linked to the network that we
belong to at our work. On the one hand, work can be satisfying, but on the other hand it can cause
worries due to the lack of satisfaction and perspective of the work that we do. This workshop tries to
give answers to the questions that relate to the theme of the conference:
- How can we live a meaningful life at work?
- How can we realise our personal dreams at work?
- How can therapists empower clients and help them make sense?
During recent months I have attempted to investigate how meaning can be positively
improved at work for employees and with regards to their relationships with colleagues. To
that end, I have determined the following research question:
In what way can insight into identity, work and relationship from the perspective of
logotherapy, improve the relationship between colleagues in order to stimulate more
meaning in their work at their workplace?

For the use of logotherapy in the supervision of (work) relationships, I have held various
sessions with employees using a number of instruments that I considered to be appropriate
for the individual situation. During the Meaning conference I would like to share the results
of the cases.
The sessions have shown that the mental field of view of those involved can be widened, so
that he or she can become aware of the entire spectrum of meanings and values. Finding
meaning in work is an important part.
In addition, it has been found that it is also possible for the logotherapist in a work situation,
to let people discover / find meaning that helps them to make the work situation meaningful
or to experience meaning in work again. This could result in a work situation with sufficient
meaningful moments to be able to conclude: "It's good that I can be there and that I do this."
During an interactive session we will present a few theses to get input from the audience
about their views and experience on the way personal meaning can be explored and
stimulated at the workplace.


L3.2.1. Meaning among prisoners

Siebrecht Vanhooren (1)
(1) Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences of KU Leuven, Belgium

Prisons are generally considered to be places that are marked by hopelessness and meaninglessness.
Not only are experiences of continuous failure and existential alienation part of the road that leads to
crime; the experience of committing a crime and incarceration itself can lead to a deeper loss of
meaning en demoralization. Sources of meaning such as one’s material means, social role, identity,
self-worth, and the connection with others and society are undermined by imprisonment.
Relationships within prison are often marked by a dehumanizing quality. As a result prisoners find
themselves reduced to their crime and exhale despair and nothingness. Hitting rock bottom, the
situation can further deteriorate or change for the better. Most prisoners finish their prison time
without having a plan for the future and experience hopelessness when they are to be released.
There is another group who goes on a search for meaning during their imprisonment. Some of them
might become adepts of fundamentalist religious movements; others might experience posttraumatic
growth. Key in this process of posttraumatic growth and a shift in meaning in life is having had the
feeling to be deeply understood by another person. Based on a series of cross-sectional research,
mixed-method research, qualitative interviews, and case-studies, we explore what posttraumatic
growth among prisoners might mean, which meaning-making processes might lead to posttraumatic
growth, which prisoners are more or less likely to make sense of their imprisonment and their lives in
general, and which important clinical implications can be drawn about working with prisoners.

L3.2.2. Psychometric and implicit meaning of personality development: findings from qualitative and
quantitative studies
Vasily Kostenko, Anna Lebedeva (1)
(1) National Research University Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russia

A topic of personality development is traditionally covered by positive psychology field. The section of
positive psychology and meaning will probably be a great opportunity to discuss the topic within
meaning perspective. Other points of view are needed to move our current research forward and
overcome its limitations.

Despite the existence of a number of post-Piagetian theories of personality development and
the possibility of its measurement, the question of the phenomenological and psychological content
of the various stages of personality development remains open. When examining this field, it is
important to take into account what exactly becomes the main content and meaning of personality
development at some particular stage (e.g. at the pre-conformist, conformist, and post-conformist
stages). Using Russian adaptation of Washington University Sentence Completion Test (WUSCT, Hy &
Loevinger, 1996), we conducted a series of studies using quantitative psychometric data and
qualitative data from open-ended questions in order to understand how the level of personality
development affects (1) our understanding of personality development usually based on qualitative
data and (2) the respondents’ implicit theory of personality development. The data shows the
exceptional influence of personality self-reflection on the process of personality development. At the
same time, the self-reflexive processes themselves do not simply remain “out of the brackets” as
mechanisms, but are actively included by the personality in the set of concepts regarding its own
development. Qualitative research specify existing quantitative data (e.g. Pfaffenberger, Marko &
Combs, 2011), deepening the understanding of the meaning of personality development at the post-
conformist stages.

L3.2.3. Meaning in life: A moderator in the stress-depression association in nursing home residents?
Jessie Dezutter, Laura Dewitte, Evalyne Thauvoye (1)
(1) Meaning Research Late Life, Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, KU Leuven - Belgium

The final stage of life is often characterized by stressful life events. Many older adults face, for
example, medical problems, bereavement of partner, and loss of social contacts. These experiences
can result in an increase of depressive symptoms like depressed mood, loss of appetite, and lower
quality of sleep. Other established risk factors for mental health problems, such as cognitive decline,
tend to increase in the older population and can further pave the way to depression. Research indeed
confirms that depressive symptoms are widespread in the oldest old, with increased prevalence rates
in nursing home residents. Experiencing meaning in life, on the other hand, has been consistently
negatively related to depressive symptomatology in a general population as well as in older adults.
Moreover, meaning in life has been argued to be of particular importance in coping with demanding
life events.
In this presentation, the potential moderating role of experiencing meaning in life in the relation
between stressful life events and depressive symptoms in a group of nursing home residents will be
discussed. Findings are based on study in 27 nursing homes (N= 269 older residents). All residents are
assessed on the number of stressful events experienced in the previous 6 months, their experience of
meaning in life, presence of depressive symptoms, level of appetite, and quality of sleep. Multigroup
path analysis are conducted in Mplus and findings will be discussed.
Western societies show a significant rise in the proportion of very old persons. In Belgium for
example, by 2050 ten percent of the population will have reached the age of 80 or older and a
majority of this population is in need of care, often in a residential care setting. Elderly care within
nursing homes is currently often guided by a more biomedical care approach with limited attention
for existential topics like meaning or purpose in life. However, especially these topics seem of crucial
importance in this life stage as well as within this setting, where losses and finitude are regularly
experienced. In this presentation, findings of a nursing home study are discussed, drawing much-
needed attention to the topic of meaningfulness in life in the increasingly important context of elderly

L3.2.4. “High”-quality choices: meaning foundations of choicework

Anna F. Fam (1), Anna A. Menshchikova (2)

(1) International Laboratory of Positive Psychology of Personality and Motivation, National Research
University Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russia, (2) Department of Psychology, National
Research University Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russia
The concepts of choice and meaning are inextricably linked. Meaning is an important
foundation of choice (Aristotle, Kierkegaard, Vygotsky, etc.), an internal mean for resolving
uncertainty. Meaning is also a precondition of choice, helping to identify choice situations in life
(Abbagnano, Längle). Besides, meaning often appears as a result of choice, being found/born during
the choice process (Sartr, Maddi, May). The more mature a person is, the more active he is in
construing/reconstruing meanings of life (Leontiev). Making “high”-quality choices is associated with
meaningfulness of life. Finally, meaning is a predictor of choice quality, its acceptance by personality
(Leontiev, Fam). Choicework is a self-determination activity (Leontiev et al., 2015) which can proceed
at different levels of complexity and elaboration (being more of less sophisticated, meaningful,
deliberate and integrated with other sides of life).
We aimed to analyze meaning foundations of choicework in various “high”-quality choices
(HQC) made in real life situations. We hypothesized that so called 'good', 'happy', 'successful', 'right'
and 'genuine' choices may differ by their foundations, peculiarities of the process and outcomes. We
supposed that meaningful choices are more satisfying than occasional and spontaneous ones
(irrespective to their real outcome).
We asked respondents (N=554) to describe these five types of HQC and evaluate them by the
Subjective quality of choice technique (measuring elaboration and meaningfulness of choice, its
emotional valence, autonomy, and one’s satisfaction with the outcome).
According to results, elaboration and meaningfulness were maximal for ‘successful’ and ‘right’
choices and minimal for ‘happy’ ones (associated with luck, spontaneity and unpredictability of
result). Satisfaction with choice was maximal for ‘good’ and ‘successful’ choices (associated with hard
work, using rational strategies and analyzing the whole context of the choice situation) and minimal
for ‘happy’ ones. A ‘right’ choice was the most meaningful but emotionally ambivalent (“proper, but
unpleasant”), based on moral values and volition – but its subjective quality was significantly higher
than general quality of a ‘happy’ choice, made irreflectively.
Thus, a choice outcome, its emotional valence and subjective evaluation are radically different
parameters of HQC, and speaking of choice quality is hardly worthwhile without specifying its
meaning foundations.

Room 253 Erikson


E3.1.1. The rise of Nihilism in Millenials and Gen Zers - 'mood'

Lou Futcher (1)
(1) Private practice
The talk relates to the theme because it explores a way that a significant number of young people
relate to either other in the form of online community and shared philosophy, based around a lack of
meaning. I feel that when we discuss finding meaning we often come from the perspective of people
who have their basic needs met, and are seeking self-actualisation. I want to talk about how this isn't
possible for young people because the basics aren't available to them, and so they unite under a
philosophy of no meaning.

Spend any amount of time on the internet and you’ll notice a trend amongst under-35s - a pessimistic
disdain for life and the world coupled with an acerbic expression of self-loathing, to the point of death

wish. For many Millenials and Gen Z’ers, a sort of Nihilism has become a life philosophy, and a coping
mechanism. They are well aware of their own difficulties - perfectionism, procrastination, lack of
motivation, feeling burned out, anxiety and depression - but in a society of precarity and alternative
facts, they believe they are unlikely to thrive even if they try, so instead they embrace hopelessness,
making themselves - and own their state of being - the butt of the joke.

This presentation will outline the sense of online community which disillusioned young people create
through a shared sense of hopelessness and a lack of Meaning, based on shared attitudes, dark
humour and poor mental health, and explore the socio-economic and psychological conditions which
contributed to the formation of this trend. In neoliberal late capitalism, how are young people meant
to find Meaning when even the lowest levels of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs cannot be fulfilled? Far
from being the entitled generations that the privileged older generations portray, today’s young
people are the lied-to generations, the gaslighted generations, unable to properly access the
resources and opportunities they were promised as a reward for their hard work, and this is having a
devastating psychological effect which we as a society cannot continue to ignore. How do we, as
mental health practitioners, empower clients to create and discover a sense of Meaning?

E3.1.2. Sense-making Pedagogy: Vygotsky’s Perezhivanie, Ricoeur’s Mimesis, and Spinoza’s Conatus
Yuichi Nishimoto (1)
(1) Kyoto University of Education, Kyoto, Japan

This presentation discusses deep significance of sense-making pedagogy with special reference to
perezhivanie (emotional experience), mimesis, and conatus. Sense-making pedagogy explores the
counter-tide for an alternative vision of contemporary education (education as a prescription), where
students and instructors engage in open meaning-making processes and self-organizing educational
practices. (Kovbasyuk and Blessinger, 2013)
In concrete settings of sense-making pedagogy, the significance of perezhivanie cannot be too
emphasized. The first person to address the category of perezhivanie was Vygotsky. According to
Vygotsky, perezhivanie is a process which integrates the relation of person and environment. The
author shows a metaphor of a coin. The top of a coin is assumed to be meaning (znachenie) and the
back is considered to be sense (smysl), and the coin has a thickness. The very thickness can be
perezhivanie. Meaning (znachenie) can be converted and crystalized into personalized sense (smysl)
through perezhivanie.
The process mentioned above is dynamic and even aesthetic from the point of view of mimesis.
According to Ricoeur, mimesis does not mean the duplication of reality; mimesis is not a copy;
mimesis is poiesis, that is construction or creation. What is created through mimesis is personalized
sense. Perezhivanie and mimesis inspire Spinoza’s conatus—power or effort toward self-preservation
(Spinoza clearly stated: “Affectus, qui passio est, desinit esse passio simulatque eius claram et
distinctam formamus ideam.”). A fundamental basis of pedagogy (education) can be this self-
recognized conatus which is inspired by a mimetic dialogism between a student and a teacher. The
author argues that an organized guideline (perezhivanie—mimesis—conatus) can make a significant
contribution to sense-making pedagogy.

E3.3.3. Intervention program on meaning and purpose for Chinese adolescents

Mandy Chan, Jimmy de la Torre, Mantak Yuen (1)
(1) Faculty of Education at The University of Hong Kong.

Meaning and sense of purpose are important constructs that contribute to positive psychological
development and well-being of the youth (Bronk, 2014; Wong & Wong, 2012). However, there have

been relatively few empirical programs for fostering meaning and purpose among the young. Using
the framework of social and emotional learning, an intervention program on meaning and purpose is
proposed for development. This is a school-based preventive program implemented in school settings
targeting for Chinese adolescents in Hong Kong. The program will consist of eight one-hour sessions.
It is characterized by using narrative approach and storytelling to help adolescents to reflect on their
meaning and purpose within the socio-cultural context of Chinese community. Besides aiming at
helping adolescents to foster the sense of meaning and purpose, it also acknowledges the dark side of
meaning and purpose. It is argued that ideas grounded in positive psychology, existential-humanistic
psychology, character education, and positive youth development may provide a context for
cultivating the sense of meaning and purpose among adolescents, and therefore enhancing their
existential well-being. In the presentation, the results of the pilot study on the intervention program
on meaning and purpose would be presented. Samples of learning activities in the program would be
provided. In addition, some of the challenges facing educators in promoting existential well-being,
meaning and purpose education will be described. Lastly, it will be followed by a discussion on the
implications on the curriculum design of the preventive program for adolescents and its implications
on teacher training.
This presentation will address the theme of the conference by proposing a universal
preventive program that aims to foster meaning and purpose among adolescents. It is also proposed
that intervention efforts to promote meaning and purpose going hand in hand with character
education will contribute to the existential well-being and positive developments of adolescents.

E3.3.4. Young adults with autism spectrum condition meaning‐making of friendship

Tove Mattsson (1)

(1) Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning (IBL), Linköping University, Sweden

My focus has been how people perceive and understands their surroundings. How we make sense of
life and different situations. As a former teacher at upper secondary school and now PhD student
where my thesis is focused on young adults with autism spectrum condition experience of social
relations, meaning is essential. Our different perspectives and interpretations of the world interests
me, in part as a result of my experiences with students with autism spectrum condition.
Most young adults with autism spectrum condition (ASC) experience difficulties with social
relations. Research show that children and young adults with ASC experience a higher degree of
loneliness, bullying and anxiety than their peers, but are at the same time often described as longing
for friendships. This study focuses on how young adults with ASC experiences friendship. Data from
14 pair and individual semi-structured interviews with students with ASC attending upper secondary
schools have been analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA). Analysis has
established four superordinate themes on how the young adults make sense of friendship: “friendship
as a difficulty”, “doing friendship”, “friendship as possibility” and “friendship as a responsibility”. Parts
of these four superordinate themes will be described and exemplified in the presentation with focus
on the informants meaning‐making in relation to engaging in friendship. On one hand the young
adults describe grave hesitation in relation to friendship, mainly based on previous experiences and
friendship as something that is perceived as difficult and demanding. On the other hand, they
describe friendship as something that involves grave responsibility but also possibilities for their
personal development. Friendship is something that they describe as necessary in relation to
demands as a future adult. These perceived future demands are presented as motivational factors in
challenging themselves to engage in and coping with friendships.


E3.3.1. Qualitative Exploration of the Undergraduate Experience as a Source of Meaning in Life

Ben Dunn, Michael Hunter, Holli-Anne Passmore (presentation by Passmore) (1)
(1) University of British Columbia, Kelowna, Canada

Shin and Steger (2016) suggested that a university education could be a pathway for students to
discover meaning in their lives. Expanding on this suggestion, we propose that the undergraduate
university experience itself may be a source of meaning in life. In the current study, we asked
undergraduates to reflect on how they find meaning through being university students and to provide
a summative response following the prescribed seven-day reflection period. Qualitative responses (N
= 113; 109 words average/response) were collected, analyzed, and coded for recurring themes by two
researchers. Using grounded theory as a methodological approach, 12 themes emerged from the
data with high interrater reliability for their identification. An average of three themes were cited per
response, with the most prevalent being: personal growth, education, social, job/financial stability,
and self-transcendence. We overlaid the identified themes onto current structures looking at
meaning and well-being: Martela and Steger’s (2016) trichotomy of coherence, purpose, significance;
Martela and Ryan’s (2015) modified self-determination theory; and Ryff and Keyes’ (1995) six-factor
model of psychological well-being. Striking commonalities were found between these structures and
how our sample indicated they find meaning through being university students. Implications are
numerous: for example, our findings could inform how courses are structured so as to support
students’ search for and development of meaning in life. Campus initiatives, like meaning-focused
discussion groups (Hill 2013), could also be established. Findings from the current study underscore
the important role that universities play in the cultivation of their students’ meaning in life.
The undergraduate experience is a time of significant maturation and personal growth. It is
also a liminal time of change and uncertainty. Understanding how meaning in life is experienced in
this population is, thus, of particular importance. Findings of our qualitative study contribute to an in-
depth understanding of facets of the university experience from which students derive and construct
meaning. Such information could inform educators and university administrators when developing
course material and considering campus initiatives. Thus, our paper relates to several strands of the
IMEC conference: Meaning & Positive Psychology; Empirical Experiential Qualitative Research;
Political & Social Theory (Education).

E3.2.2. Navigating the tensions of undergraduate life: An existential phenomenological analysis of

growth in the context of coaching at a UK university
Natalie Lancer (1)
(1) Birkbeck College, University of London
How do we grow and develop? Is coaching useful in this? In my presentation, I rethink the
conventional and fuzzy idea of growth, in the context of undergraduates at university. Rather than
modelling growth as a linear and never-ending positive path, I steep it in the nitty-gritty experience of
14 students who had coaching over one or two years. They were interviewed about their personal
growth at four time points. Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis was employed to elucidate their
experiences, resulting in a fine-grained analysis.
I then use an existential framework to clarify how growth came about, often as tensions that
needed to be navigated. Contemporary existential thinkers and the concepts of dilemma and paradox
are drawn upon to help illuminate growth. Several specific situated existential tensions are presented
and discussed in depth. They are reformulated as a toolkit which will be useful for professionals who
advise students, such as personal tutors, career counsellors and coaches.

This research comes at a time of concern of student mental health. Suicide rates in UK
universities have never been higher and according to a recent BBC report, there has been a fivefold
increase in student disclosure of mental health problems in the last decade (BBC). An 2017 IPPR
survey found that 94% of higher education providers experienced a rise in demand for counselling
services in the past five years. Thus, a coaching study is timely, in that coaching may nip in the bud
issues that could develop into mental health problems.
My presentation is about how students’ make sense of their growth and a large part of this
was about their changing understanding of their relationships with others. In our new age of Social
Media, where people only present their carefully curated positive life, the young people in my study
relished the new authentic relationships they were forming and the opportunity to be ‘themselves’.
Perhaps due to the one sided pushing out of updates on social media, met with a cursory thumbs up,
young people rarely sit down with others and think about their lives. In this study, the students were
given the opportunity to sit with a coach over 6 or 12 sessions and work out a deliberate, purposeful
position about many dilemmas in their life. They became more aware that part of being human is to
understand that life is full of ups and downs, breakthroughs and trade offs. This presentation details
the profound effect this had on the students and how it contributed to their growth.

E3.2.3. Experience of Middle-aged International Students – an Interpretative Phenomenological

Asztrik Kovács (1)
(1) Eötvör Loránd University, Budapest, Hungary

In the European higher education studying abroad has an increasing trend. By the extending
availability of scholarships and English language education, the number of students who decide to
study abroad is increasing. However, little or no attention has been paid to the experience of middle-
aged university students. Our study is examining the lived experience of middle aged Norwegian
students who are studying at Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, Hungary.
Semi-structured interviews were carried out, and analysed by Interpretative
Phenomenological Analysis. We were focusing on how the perception of age and self changed during
the transitory migration.
Our results show, that before the mobility existence was experienced as static, and
threatened by ending. During mobility self became an active agent, who is able to create meaning, to
react to difficult situations and to maintain control over the life. Through the process of changing the
field of work, leaving the home- roles, self and existence was re-evaluated.
The new experiences extended the horizon of our participants. Our interviewees explained
that their experience of educational migration resulted in a change in several social roles, which
changed their identity. Self-perception is alternated which led to a change in the experience of
existence and age.

E3.2.4. Aces too high: an Interpretative Phenomenological Study to examine educational exclusion
and inequality
Gail John (1)
(1) University of Sheffield

Inclusion in schools is a highly complex and much debated topic (Edmonds, 2012; Hodge, 2016; Tutt,
2007; Webster and Blachford, 2015; Whitelock, 2012). However, the voice of the ‘excluded’ is rarely
heard. This study has sought to listen to the voice of the excluded to hear ‘their truth’ about
educational barriers and their consequences, along with innovative preventative measures. Since
lack of educational attainment has been identified as the ‘biggest driver of future poverty’
(Rowntree, 2017) and school bullying/exclusion has been identified as a precursor to self-harm and
suicide; suicide being the leading cause of death in almost all European countries (Hawton, Saunters

and O’Connor, 2012), this thesis answers an urgent call to find preventative and restorative
solutions. An interpretative phenomenological analysis approach (IPA) was implemented to further
examine Edmonds’ stance that the education system unfairly discriminates against individuals ‘with’
difference (Edmonds, 2012). Since published data has highlighted many gaps between Wales and the
rest of the UK, for example in educational attainment (Adult Basic Skills, 2004; PISA 2006; 2009;
2012; 2015 (cited in OECD 2006; 2009; 2012; 2015), Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and
health harming behaviour (Bellis, 2017), lack of economic regrowth (Rowntree Foundation, 2017)
and rising suicide statistics compared to the rest of the UK (Samaritans, 2018); the research setting
was purposely chosen because of the high rates of social poverty, inequality, opioid deaths (BBC,
2019) and self-harm compared to other localities. Semi-structured interviews were carried out with
twelve participants (aged 14-35). Seven emerging superordinate themes were identified: ACEs and
trauma, missed assessment, disabling learning environments, bullying, gaslighting and systematic
abuse, damages to mental health, survival coping mechanisms and self-medication, revolving door
of cycles of oppression and intergenerational poverty, and preventative measures and restorative
solutions. The trans-disciplinary findings combine neuro-science, education, behavioural studies,
ACEs, sleep studies, neuro-diversity and suicide prevention, to tackle international public health
targets which, if implemented by policy makers, could lead a process of emancipatory social reform
right across society to create a better future for our children.

Room 254 Veda


V3.2.1. How do older adults with Alzheimer’s disease understand the concept of meaning in life and is
it important for their functioning over time?
Laura Dewitte (1,2), Mathieu Vandenbulcke (1,3), Jessie Dezutter (1)
(1) KU Leuven—University of Leuven, Leuven, Belgium, (2) Research Foundation Flanders, Brussels,
Belgium, (3) University Psychiatric Centre KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium

Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias pose a big challenge for meaning researchers, on a
societal, interpersonal, and individual level. How do we organize our societies so that people with
dementia are included and feel valued? How can we support meaningful relationships between
people with dementia and their families? How is meaning experienced by people with dementia and
is this experience important? These are pertinent questions with no clear answers. The current
contribution will focus on meaning in life for this rapidly growing group of adults in our society, which
is often overlooked when it comes to more complex psychological experiences.
In recent years, a tripartite view of meaning in life is gaining popularity, which—much in line
with some older conceptualizations—advances coherence/comprehension, purpose, and
significance/mattering as the three main components of personal meaning. Despite recent evidence
emphasizing the importance of the affective-experiential significance component, the coherence and
purpose components have received far more empirical attention. Some scholars go as far as to state
that the cognitive coherence component is the cornerstone and prerequisite of meaning. This triggers
the question of what happens to the experience of meaning when cognitive capacities are declining,
such as when having Alzheimer’s disease.
In the first part of this presentation, I will present results from a qualitative content analysis
on short verbal descriptions by 140 older adults with Alzheimer’s disease in residential care on what
meaning in life means to them. Does the tripartite view come forward in these descriptions? Which
domains and sources of meaning are spontaneously put forward? And what can we learn about the

concept of meaning from this less cognitively oriented population? In the second part, I will present
results from two-wave longitudinal quantitative data, examining whether meaning in life, as
understood by these 140 people with Alzheimer’s disease, is predictive of their psychological
functioning (life satisfaction and depressive symptoms) over time.

V3.2.2. Life Stories, Death Stories: Aged care workers relationship with death
Liana Green, Meredith Tavener , Julie Byles (1)

(1) Research Centre for Generational Health and Ageing; University of Newcastle

This presentation explores how relationships in Residential Aged Care (RAC) Facilities are formed
and evolve in the presence of death. RAC Facilities are places where meaningful relationships are
formed between carers and the person receiving care through daily contact and the provision of
intimate personal care. In Australia, a third of deaths of people over 65 years occur in RAC and
workers come to their roles with complex meaning-makings around death and dying and these inform
worker’s own relationship with death and their relationship and connection with those dying.

Residential Aged Care (RAC) Facilities are places that are rich in meaning, where relationships
are formed in the presence of death. In Australia, a third of deaths occur in RAC, with Personal Care
Attendants (PCA), who represent around 2/3 of the RAC workforce, having the closest contact with
those dying. PCA draw on personal experiences to create their own unique existential meanings of
death, and these inform their reactions and behaviours towards dying residents in their care.
Personal meanings can promote resilience but they are often deeply ingrained and unexamined, and
if incongruent with End of Life (EOL) education may override EOL knowledge acquired through
modeling and education. This study used Narrative Analysis to understand RAC death narratives; to
examine how age care workers relationship with death has developed throughout their lives; and how
personal death narratives influence resilience, compassion, and preparedness to work in the presence
of death. Ten PCA were interviewed three times each approximately one month apart to explore the
existing death narratives that RAC workers commence work with and how these narratives evolve in
dynamic, complex and unique ways as workers witness the death of loved residents in their care and
face their own mortality. This study provides an in depth understanding of RAC workers existing
constructs of death; how these constructs evolve in relationship with people who are dying and in
relationship to their work space and work place; and their capacity to reflect on their individual
meaning-making and their own unique relationship with death.

V3.2.3. Nakedness and the dead body - the impact of regular death encounters on meaning and
identity in health care professionals
Schulz-Quach, Christian (1)

When I tell others that I work in Palliative Care Psychiatry the most frequent reply I hear is: How can
you bear this up? My standard reply is that I gain gratitude, satisfaction and meaning from my work. I
often add how much I value the daily confrontation with existential issues and meaningful human
encounters within modern health care (Schulz, 2010; Schulz, 2018). I rarely talk about the more
difficult and challenging phenomena which constitute part of this work and about my path to
becoming a consultant in palliative medicine in Germany and a palliative care psychiatrist in the UK. In
the clinical practice of Palliative and Hospice Care, daily practice and organizational demands often
conceal the lack of articulated phenomenological understanding of the significance of frequent death
confrontation and its meaning to those who work in the field as healthcare professionals.
In this talk, I would like to offer an exploration on the experience of actual death encounter and the
cardinal phenomenon of being present to the nakedness of a dead body. By doing so, I will draw from

theory and personal experience alike. I will present the results of a systematic metasynthesis of the
literature and highlight relevant research questions for future projects.


V3.2.1. Images: Making Meaning out of Social Media

Annika Andersson (1)

(1) Pacifica Graduate Institute

Social media, and the Internet are largely the form of communication that individuals are utilizing
today. Bombarding each other with images at an alarming rate. Often disconnecting one another
from the personal meaning, connection, and transformative spirit. What happens if one were to slow
down and actively participate and examine what images are playing a part in their lives? What images
are showing up? Why and what do they mean? In participating, discovering, and reflecting on the
images individuals are drawn to, one may help them shed some insight into the musings of their
psyche, their dreams, and possibly transformation.
Contemporary culture is flooded with visual images, challenging our capacity to engage such
images in a deliberate and reflective manner. Yet careful engagement with photographic images in
particular can offer a sense of soul and a healing potential. Based on the work of Jung and Hillman this
workshop delves into the language of the psyche and is an opportunity for participants to experience
and explore archetypal images that emerge from what Jung calls the creative imagination. This
workshop will allow space for the participants to step outside of their busy lives and participate, co-
create, and reflect upon the images that they are creating. Combining Jung’s idea that image is psyche
with Hillman’s sticking to the image and utilizing imaginal language participants will learn the basics of
Jung and Hillman’s theories on image and how they are able to engage, explore, and participate with
them in their own lives. Using photographs housed on their own camera roll and/or social media
space, participants will learn how to amplify, work with, and reflect upon the images connecting with
and understanding the musings of the psyche. Through the language of photography, this workshop
will investigate the healing potential that may be found in working with images by exploring their
relationship to the human psyche. Dr. Andersson will demonstrate how participants can utilize
photography as a healing tool in order to engage the unconscious in a personal way discovering the
archetypal themes and motifs that may lie within.
V3.2.2. Roma Asylum Migration and Social Change
Petr Kouba (1)

(1) Philosophical Institute of The Czech Academy of Sciences

From 1997 to 2004 the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary were facing a massive surge of Roma
asylum migration that was heading for countries like Great Britain, Ireland, or Canada. The aim of this
paper is to analyse not only the living conditions of Roma minority in the Central Europe, but also the
very phenomenon of massive migration. What characterized the Roma migration in the given period
was its political impact that was given by the fact that Roma suffering from racial discrimination,
exclusion and persecution in their home countries applied for the political asylum in other countries.
This made their situation visible on the international scene, despite they did not have such an
intention and did not plan their emigration as a political action. To understand the massive emigration
of Roma we must therefore think about it in terms of a collective agency which, however, does not
have a character of a social project. Rather, we must apply here the concept of event that makes it
possible to grasp unexpected, unplanned and unorganized forms of social changes. The concept of
event plays a significant role in the contemporary French philosophy; it appears in works of thinkers
like Lefebvre, Balibar, Deleuze, Badiou, Maldiney, Marion or Nancy. Generally, one could say that a

social project requires a certain amount of social homogeneity and unity, while an event brings into a
play heterogeneity and multiplicity that make possible a creation of new forms of sociality.

Besides the distinction between the social project and event we shall also take into
consideration the distinction between the social visibility and social invisibility. While the social
visibility is always related to a self-affirmation of majority, the social invisibility can be, for a specific
minority, a way of survival in a hostile environment, rather than simply a deficient form of social
visibility. To put it in deleuzoguattarian terms, a becoming minoritarian means escaping from the gaze
and power of majority, which always involves an escape from the structural space of state. What
needs to be analysed is thus a tension between a state apparatus and a minority which – by its very
existence – makes visible an exteriority of state. Such a tension became apparent, for instance, in an
allergic reaction of states that rejected Roma asylum claimants. But despite their failure to find a
better life abroad, Roma asylum claimants have discovered (as if by accident) a very efficient way of
non-violent protest that made visible not only intolerable life conditions in their home countries, but
also hypocrisy and structural racism in asylum policy of the target countries. Their experience with a
multicultural environment abroad has also enabled them to free themselves of interiorised social
stigma and find a new spirit of mutual solidarity, equality and collective responsibility. Their new
experience allowed them to overcome the habitual strategies of social invisibility and self-
differentiation that prevented them from creating any functional association. Instead of the politics of
dissociation they were thus able to associate themselves on the basis of their collective experience. If
we reflect on the Roma asylum migration, we could then arrive at a new understanding of minority
politics which differs from the mainstream politics. It is not a politics of institutions, but a politics of
everyday survival, improvisation and looking for gaps in the state system.

This paper combines social activism (author monitored the Roma asylum migration as a
member of the Czech Helsinki Committee) with philosophical theories, sociological concepts and
psychological insights into the nature of collective trauma.

V3.2.3. What is it like to work at the nexus of worker co-operativism and sustainable enterprise?
Janette Hurst (1)
(1) Department of Management, Sheffield Hallam University

This presentation covers some of the more relevant findings from an Interpretive Phenomenological
Analysis (IPA) study on the experience of individual worker-owners in sustainability-focussed
cooperative enterprises. Their organisations sign up to the values of the International Co-operative
Alliance (ICA) including self-help, democracy, equality, equality, caring for others and social
responsibility. Furthermore, their working practices are aligned to the ICA principles of democratic
member control, autonomy & independence, and co-operation with and concern for the community.
These socialised enterprises often operate in markets where traditional enterprises have
failed, withdrawn or don't seek to operate. By creating their own enterprises in a collective manner,
the workers are frequently freed from many of the constraints imposed by being owned and
controlled by the state or investors and from the large power imbalances found in traditional
hierarchical organisations. They are characterised by democratic decision-making and the re-
investment of any surplus in the organisation or to the wider community or shared equitably among
The findings reveal that these workplaces are experienced as cooperative, caring, inclusive
and equitable. They offer meaningful work, help deliver personal well-being, and provide a level of
autonomy and freedom to individuals. They give the workers the chance to be part of sustainable
development towards the traditional three pillars of economic, social and environmental

sustainability. Another emerging strong theme is what is becoming the fourth major pillar of
sustainability for some thinkers: that of human sustainability of the workers themselves.
This presentation is drawn from current PhD research which utilises the Interpretive
Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) methodology in the exploration of the lived experience of workers
within enterprises operating at the nexus of co-operativism and sustainability. Drawing on the
interview data, I will be tilting the presentation to the more relevant findings around meaning from
and at work, being and to be, for the individuals working in these environments. Good alignment with
the IPA and meaningful work streams of the conference are perceived to be present via the
methodology, phenomena and the socialised, non-mainstream enterprises from which the
participants are drawn.

V3.2.4. Eco-anxiety: A Cascade of Fundamental Existential Anxieties

Holli-Anne Passmore, Paul K. Lutz, Andrew J. Howell (1)

Scientists, journalists, politicians, and environmental activists have all referred to the
“existential crisis” that climate change poses to humanity—a dire threat to our existence as a species.
Anxiety over this encroaching environmental crisis is so common that the American Psychological
Association published a report on the mental health impacts of climate change (2017). Over the last
decade, ecoanxiety has grown from being stressed over which eco-friendly product is the “greenest”
(Tuttle, 2008), to manifesting as a persistent, generalized dread of environmental doom (Ratcliffe,
2019). We propose that this broad sense of ecoanxiety over degradation of the natural environment
is triggering a cascade of fundamental existential anxieties. Previously, Passmore and Howell (2014)
proposed that cultivating our innate biophilic tendencies through immersion in nature plays a
fundamental role in assuaging the four existential anxieties that Yalom (1980) outlined, in addition to
addressing the two positive existential anxieties proposed by Wong (2009). In the current paper, we
examine how ecoanxiety reflects a disruption of our connection to nature as we know it, and how this
disruption is engendering existential crises over meaning, death, isolation, freedom, our identity as
humans, and our overall happiness and well-being. We draw on a variety of theoretical perspectives
and research to support our position. Just as we previously (Passmore & Howell, 2014) encouraged
therapists to consider nature involvement when assessing clients and considering therapy strategies,
in the current paper we discuss the relevance of ecoanxiety for therapists and the importance of
addressing clients’ underlying fundamental existential crises.

Climate change and our relationship to the greater-than-human natural world are the most
pressing issue of our times. Doomsday climate-in-crises news makes headlines daily, as do reports of
the distress that climate change is having on our individual and social psyche. Ecoanxiety is impacting
individuals’ meaning in life, well-being, and social relationships, and is causing us to rethink our
identity as humans. Therapists are reporting growing numbers of clients suffering from
ecoanxiety. Thus, our paper positioning ecoanxiety as a cascade of fundamental existential anxieties
is germane to the overall theme, and to several strands, of the 2019 IMEC conference.

Room 255 Martin Luther King

Powerful new evidence-based practices to improve meaning in life, resilience, and post-traumatic
Naomi Arbit (1)

(1) BetterUp Inc, Columbia University

This session will introduce evidence-based approaches for cultivating meaning as a way to enhance
resilience and post-traumatic growth. I’ll share approaches and tools that participants can use
personally so as to increase their experience of meaning (and thereby make themselves more
resilient), and I’ll share modifications of these approaches that can be used for helping others in these
This workshop draws on recent developments in positive psychology, self compassion and
acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) to share powerful new evidence-based practices to
improve meaning in life as a way to enhance resilience and post-traumatic growth. The workshop will
introduce participants to the core elements of self compassion, ACT and prospection, take them
through examples of each, and give them tools that they can implement in their lives, and as coaches.
Ultimately, the way in which people manage and respond to their inner psychological world
determines the possibilities they can imagine for themselves, as well as their ability to achieve those
possibilities. The three approaches we’ll be sharing all provide tools for helping people and their
coachees in managing their inner worlds so as to find greater meaning, and navigate and grow
through adversity.
Self compassion involves meeting one’s experiences with a caring, kind and forgiving stance.
Prospection, which comes from the positive psychology literature, allows people to escape the
confines of their thinking and broaden the range of possibilities that they perceive to be available to
them. ACT involves accepting difficult thoughts and feelings and taking committed, values-guided
action despite them. It can teach people how to take constructive action even in the face of
challenges, adversity and hardship.
This session will be conducted in a workshop format, with discussion interwoven with
individual exercises, followed by a group discussion and Q & A. The workshop will be split roughly
50/50 between presentation/discussion and individual exercises, reflection and Q&A.

M3.2.2. The Method of Capturing Meaning

Aleksandra Kupavskaya

The lecture will introduce the method of capturing meaning, which was created by Alfried Laengle,
the founder of the Viennese School of Existential Analysis, a pupil and long time collaborator of Victor
Frankl. Understanding Existential Analysis as a phenomenological and personal psychotherapy, we will
discuss the prerequisites to discovering personal meaning, which help to achieve a free and complete
(spiritual and emotional) experience of life, reaching authentic positions and taking personal
responsibility for ones’ own life and the world. We will discuss why and how inner consent opens the
way to meaning and look into four fundamental motivations, which contribute to achieving “full” and
meaningful existence. Grounded on the structure of experience, we will go though the four steps of
capturing meaning, described by Alfried Laengle (Laengle, 1988), and widely used in coaching and
psychotherapeutic practice today.

Reconciliation of paradox and multiple perspective taking as pertinent mechanisms promoting
meaning-making, transformation and recovery from extreme trauma
Angela Ebert (1)
(1) Griffith University

“When your soul has been killed, how can you ever heal again”? These words indicate the ultimate
dilemma faced by survivors of extreme human-made trauma whose world has changed beyond
recognition. Lessons learned from trauma survivors showed that recovery and positive transformation
is possible even in the most adverse circumstances. The proposed interactive workshop will share
their wisdom and demonstrate how particular meaning-making pathways – described as most helpful
by trauma survivors - can also help us navigate our rapidly changing world and grow through such
changes. The topic of this presentation arguably resonates with the theme of this conference.
The importance of meaning in dealing with difficult life experiences is well-established (e.g.
meaning reconstruction when grieving, Neimeyer, 2000, and meaning as survival mechanism, Frankl,
1955), yet specific mechanisms supporting meaning-making are less understood. Qualitative research
with refugees showed that meaning-making was most essential to their recovery from extreme
interpersonal trauma, acting as protective mechanism prior to trauma exposure, aiding coping during
events, and enabling restoration of self and life. Two mechanisms stood out as the most pertinent
agents of transformative meaning-making: reconciliation of paradox and multiple perspective taking.
Reconciliation of paradox refers to the ability to resolve the dialectic tension between life experiences
and inner states located at extreme opposite poles, and to create a new equilibrium that integrates
these opposites. Multiple perspective-taking refers to the ability to look at a situation from different
angles and higher vantage point, rather than a narrow and stuck viewpoint. These two mechanisms
promoted the processing of highly complex experiences, the assimilation of traumatic memories, and
maximisation of effective coping. They fulfilled an integrative function at the highest level that also
facilitated the restoration of a cohesive and coherent sense of self and helped to re-create their inner
equilibrium. This workshop will draw on the research findings and present the core underpinnings of
the two mechanisms, demonstrate how they can be applied in therapy, counselling and related fields,
and interactively explore and practice how we can use them ourselves to navigate challenging life

M3.2.2. Cultivating Meaning through Parenting

Mina Simhai (1)
(1) George Washington University, USA
Aims of the Conference include learning meaningful practices and connecting people. This
workshop is highly experiential, so the participants will experience meaningful connection with each
other through dyad and small group activities. They will learn practical, meaningful evidence-based
positive psychology practices they can share with clients and incorporate into their own lives and
families. They will return home empowered to help clients and themselves cultivate cultivate
meaningful connections with their kids and re-connect with the inherent meaning in parenting that
can be lost in the day-to-day busyness of work and life. Most adults become parents, so targeting
meaning in parenting has the potential to transform the lives of millions of people. Participants in
this highly interactive workshop will learn how to apply evidence-based positive psychology
practices to cultivate meaning through parenting for themselves and their clients. Components of
the workshop include: (1) using VIA Character Strengths to cultivate meaning in parenting and
creating meaningful connection with kids, (2) learning how to leverage their children’s and their own
VIA character strengths to create meaningful experiences together, (3) applying research on play to
enhance meaningful parent-child relationships, (4) practicing evidenced-based gratitude
interventions to cultivate meaning in parenting, (5) experiencing a meditation practice centered on
meaning, and (6) learning resilience practices that empower parents to find meaning in the big and
small challenges of parenting. The resilience practices are based on research by Martin Seligman
and Karen Reivich from the empirically-validated Penn Resiliency Program that has been used to
train the US army. Participants will leave the workshop with the skills that assist them or their
clients in cultivating more meaning in parenting and an understanding of the positive psychology
research that supports these skills.

Posters (in room Frankl)
P1. A Qualitative Study of Change in Life Meaning During the Transition from Work to Retirement
Lucia Martinčeková, Peter Halama, Žaneta Škrobáková
Background: Retirement is a specific transition which can be challenging to a person’s life meaning
[1]. A retired individual often needs to change his/her sources of meaning [2]. Although personal
meaning seems to be an important factor of successful adaptation to aging [3], there have been only
few studies examining the meaning-making process in retirement.

Aim: The purpose of the present study was to qualitatively explore the changes in meaning during the
transition from work to retirement. The specific study goals were to: 1) describe the change in
sources of meaning during retirement transition, 2) identify the helpful or unhelpful factors to
maintain meaning during the retirement process.

Method: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 40 Slovakian retirees. Participants ranged
in age from 57 to 69 years (M = 63,36; SD = 2,47). The data was analyzed through Consensual
Qualitative Research-Modified [4] to gain deeper understanding of the change in meaning during the
transition to retirement.

Results: The analysis revealed several sources of meaning prior to retirement, the most frequent were
work and primary family. Successful adaptation to retirement includes maintaining already available
sources of meaning in new conditions, and/or in some cases, redefinition of meaning based on newly
available sources. The analysis also showed the importance of social network which can facilitate
meaning making process through both receiving and providing support and care.

Conclusions: Our results suggest that maintaining meaning is important for adjustment during the
retirement transition. Recognition of factors, which help or inhibit the process of meaning-making
during this life period, can be helpful for counselors who may facilitate recognition of meaning
sources in their clients experiencing such transition.

P2. Evaluation of the quality and satisfaction of online, video conferencing and face to face clinical
Dr Claire Arnold-Baker, Prof. Digby Tantam and Dr Neil Gibson (1)
(1) New School of Psychotherapy and Counselling
The development of technology has enabled effective communication over greater distances. This
offers an opportunity for counselling psychology and psychotherapy trainings to become more
accessible for those unable attend face to face due to disabilities, distance, family or other
commitments. Previous research (Sorlie et al,1999; Conn et al, 2009 and Abbam et al, 2011) have
demonstrated that supervisees experienced no significant difference in rapport, client focus or
supervisory experience for online supervision. However, these studies included an element of face to
face contact. The aim of the current study was to determine whether online supervision is a viable
alternative to face to face supervision in training. Two scales were administered to NSPC students
who took either face to face, video conferencing or online text-based supervision. The analysis
showed that video conferencing was quantitatively and qualitatively comparable to face to face
clinical supervision and is a viable alternative.

Social programme
One important source of meaning is social in nature! We will have many opportunities to meet and
share with each other. The social room offers many opportunities, as described above in this
programme. There is also a social programme in the evenings, outside of Birkbeck College

Friday 12 July 13.15 Walking tour

We have a unique walking tour on Friday afternoon. See earlier in the programme!

Friday 12 July 17.30 Welcome drinks

We will have a welcome drink immediately after the last session at a secret location. The location will
be announced during the conference opening and the panel discussion at the end of the day. It will
also be announced in the Frankl room.
Walking to the secret location will not take more than 10 minutes, and will be wheelchair accessible.

Sunday 14 July 17.30 Post-conference drinks

Do you usually have the feeling of being lost and alone after the last session at a conference? Not at
the IMEC conference! After the last session, we will immediately go to a nearby British pub.
The location will be announced during the conference opening and the panel discussion at the end of
the day. It will also be announced in the Frankl room.
Walking to the secret location will not take more than 10 minutes, and will be wheelchair accessible.

Saturday 13 July Dinner in L’Escargot
(times subject to change)
7.00 pm Doors open, start with one free cocktail per person
7.30 pm Oliva Spleen
8.00 pm Dinner
8.30 pm Poets
9.15 pm Tara Rez Band
10.15 pm DJ

Host of the Evening

- Dr Christian Schulz-Quach

Confirmed performances:
- Oliva Spleen (band)
- Tara Rez Band (band)
- Andi the Punk (poetry)
- Yannick Jacob (DJ)
- And many more poets and performers to be announced!

Contact the conference organisers if you want to perform!

15 mins walking from Birkbeck College (use Google Maps for directions)

Powerpoint or pdf
Please bring your power-point or pdf presentation on a USB stick, and put this on the desktop of the
computer in the break before your presentation (or any time earlier). There will also be internet
connection so you could also send the presentation to yourself in an email, and download this on the
computer; however this may take more time than using a USB. If you have another format of your
presentation than Powerpoint or pdf, we cannot guarantee that this will work. There will be a flip-over
with writing material. If you have any other requests for the presentation, please contact the organisers

Lectures in the plenary hall Aristotle

These lectures last 35 minutes plus 10 minutes Q&A. As the program is full, we unfortunately need to
be strict with the time limits.

Each symposium will bring their own chair. Please be aware of the time, so that you can finish in time.
The symposium will last for the duration that is allocated in the programme.

Brief lectures
All brief lectures are 15 minutes, which includes some minutes for Q&A. If you are part of a session
where there is time left after the last lecture, the chair will use this extra time for a Q&A with all the

Please bring an A0 or A1 poster and any material to stick this on the wall such as blue tag.

Any other questions please contact the conference organisation:

Instruction for session chairs
One copy of this instruction will be lying in each room.

Task of the session chair

• Be in the room at least 15 mins before the session starts
• Prepare the room if needed
(eg rearrange chairs and tables; make sure that there are no trip hazards eg from
loose cables lying on the floor; check whether there is enough water and cups, and
otherwise ask the conference ward or someone at the registration desk to provide
water and cups)
• Help with any questions from presenters
• Decide timing for each presentation in the session and possible Q&A or a debate at the end
of the session (chair can decide how to do this).
• Ask from each presenter:
o name
o affiliation
o are they a student (if so: do they want to be eligible for the IMEC Student
Presentation Award?)
o briefly introduce them before they start their presentation
o Are they OK to be recorded (if not, do NOT allow recording or live-streaming!)


• Ask whether there is anyone who want to live-stream the session via Facebook. They can put
their phone in the phone stand on the tripod that is available in each room. See instructions
in the ‘social media’ chapter of the full programme, and page 2 of the brief programme.
• Introduce speakers (ask a speaker beforehand how to introduce them)
• Assess students for student award + give assessment at the organisers at the registration
desk (there will be assessment forms in the room; if not, ask copies at the registration desk)
• Time keeping:
Sign to the presenters when they have 5 minutes, 2 minutes and 0 minutes left for
their presentation
• Tell people when the room is too full and no new people can enter
• Ask for questions;
Ensure that question part stays within the limited time, and there is enough time for
the other presenters; prepare one question yourself in case that nobody in the
audience has any questions
• If there is time for a panel discussion at the end, this consists of all the presenters; the
audience can ask any questions; stimulate debate between the panel members
• The time schedule is very tight: therefore do NOT take longer than the allocated time slot
• At the end of the session, please delete all presentations from the computer.
• Safeguard health & safety (e.g. make sure that the room is not too hot – e.g. open

• a window or a door; make sure that the room is safe, e.g. no cables on the floor over which
people could trip; make sure that there is enough water and cups in the room, if not ask at
the registration desk; ask help in case of a medical emergency: call Birkbeck reception desk
020 7631 6000 or call 999 if an ambulance or police need to come immediately)

NB Ask any questions to someone with a badge that says ‘organisation’. Preferably ask the
conference ward, who will be walking around to check whether everything is OK in all rooms.
Alternatively, go to the registration desk in room Frankl.


If you have any questions, please ask one of the people of the organisation or leave a question at the
registration desk.

Health and safety risk Prevention by conference ACTION BY CHAIR

People get overheated in the -Limit max no of people in a Chair/ward/organisation: do
rooms room (=responsibility of chair not accept new people to
+ ‘conference ward’) enter the room and/or ask
-Provide water + cups in each people to leave the room.
room Open door and/or window.
Provide water.
Stop session in case of severe
overheating + ask people to
leave the room to a cooler
People get dehydrated -Provide water + cups in each Chair/ward/organisation: give
room water to individuals.
Get people into a cooler place.
Check for any severe health
problems; ask for help from a
first aid person and/or call
Birkbeck reception desk at 020
7631 6000. In the most serious
cases, 999 can be called.
Trip hazard (e.g. cables on Session chair will check safety Chair/ward/organisation:
floor, tables and chairs) of room remove cables or put duct
Birkbeck College provides safe tape over cables to prevent
rooms tripping; ensure that there is a
free path for walking in each
An audience member or At the beginning of each Chair/ward/organisation:
presenter suddenly becoming conference day, Joel will ask speak with sick person to
ill (e.g. heart attack, stroke) whether there are any first assess urgency and threat of
aiders in the room who are sickness; ask whether there is
willing to volunteer and who any doctor in the room or

want to stand up so that they someone with first aid
can be identified. expertise; depending on the
symptoms, remove the person
from the room to a
saver/cooler/quieter place; ask
for help from a first aid person
and/or call Birkbeck reception
desk at 020 7631 6000. In the
most serious cases, 999 can be
Fire Fire alarm + health and safety When the fire alarm sounds,
organised by Birkbeck the session chair will lead
everyone out of the building,
to the safe place (the nearest
is in front of Birkbeck College).
Electrocution + electric No drinks allowed next to Remove all people from the
shortcuts computers and on location into safety.
presentation desks. Water can When possible without risking
be put aside, far away from own safety, remove cables
the computer from power socket.
When safe to do so, dry the
table with paper towels.
If equipment is involved,
contact the organisation at the
registration desk.
In case of direct danger, call
Birkbeck reception desk at 020
7631 6000. In the most serious
cases call 999.

Lectures in the plenary hall Aristotle
These lectures last 35 minutes plus 10 minutes Q&A. As the program is full, we unfortunately need to
be strict with the time limits.

Each symposium will bring their own chair. Please be aware of the time, so that you can finish in time.
The symposium will last for the duration that is allocated in the programme.

Brief lectures
All brief lectures are 15 minutes, which includes some minutes for Q&A. If you are part of a session
where there is time left after the last lecture, the chair will use this extra time for a Q&A with all the

WiFi Network: BBK-Guest
Username: IMEC

Password: NWQSW4

Guest Account and Wi-Fi Instructions:

· Make sure your wireless adapter is set to dynamically obtain an IP address

· Connect to the wireless network: BBK-Guest

· Enter username and password

If you experience problems connecting please follow these instructions:

· – Choose the SSID ‘BBK-Guest’ from the network list.

· – Once connected, load an Internet browser which will direct you to the Aruba WIFI login

landing page.

· – Enter the username and password where prompted and submit.

· – Reload the browser and you should be connected.

Please note that you may need to try a different browser than usual, Internet explorer or Chrome
are recommended.

We offer Guest Wi-Fi as a free service at Birkbeck, however, please note that signal strength and
reliability is dependent on the level of local Wi-Fi traffic at the time.


Presenters have been advised the following:

- Go to the room of your session at least one break before the start of your session, to prepare.
- Option 1. Copy presentation from USB-stick
- Option 2. Send presentation to your own email; open your email on the computer
- Option 3. Send your presentation to >> button ‘add your presentation’.
In the computer, go to >> button ‘view presentations’ (download

If you have any problems with audiovisual/IT which you cannot solve yourself, please call the
audiovisual/IT coordination on: 07394812059

Alternatively, ask for help at the registration desk in room Frankl.


Registration desk 07523161612
IT support 07394812059
Birkbeck college reception desk 020 7631 6000
(ONLY for emergency)
Police, ambulance, fire (ONLY IF URGENT) 999 or 112
Police if it is not urgent 101
Medical doctor if is it not urgent 111


Coffee, tea and water is included in the conference fee, as
well as a lunch on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The lunch
that is provided consists of a hot and cold buffet with a wide
variety of options, suitable for meat eaters, vegetarians and

The dinner at L’Escargot (needs to be paid separately)

consists of bowl food. Individuals can select a variety of food,
suitable for meat eaters, vegetarians and vegans.

Please inform the conference organisers if you have any other

specific food requests such as food allergies

If you have a severe food allergy, be aware that in the room

Frankl, food will be served which may contain allergens.


Most Londoners use Google Maps to plan their journey. Another frequently used navigation website
is (Transport for London). All buses, underground and overground train services in
London accept contactless payment cards or Oyster Cards. An Oyster Card is a card that can be
bought for £5 at any underground station; travellers need to put credit of at least £5 on the card to
make it work (more if the card is used in the train). When travelling by train the cheapest option is to
buy a train ticket far in advance, e.g. via

Neither Birkbeck College nor the IMEC Conference offer accommodation. Conference participants are
requested to find their own accommodation. There are many hotels and hostels available in Central
London, in almost any price range. An example of a website where accommodation can be found is

Reception of the main building of Birkbeck College, Malet Street
Go past the reception and turn right at the lifts. Continue walking until you come in the extension
building. (NB: you can NOT register at the general reception for the conference: REGISTRATION IS IN

When you enter the extension building, continue walking until the stairs and lifts. The blue square
shows the central stairs and lifts which can be used to access all rooms.

The lecture hall B33 Aristotle can be found in the basement of the main building.
Rooms with a number starting with ‘1’ are on the first floor of the extension building.
Rooms with a number starting with ‘2’ are on the second floor of the extension building


Ground floor of main

building (entrance)

Basement of main

Floor 1 of extension building

Floor 2 of extension building