• Christopher Wurm – Integrating meaning-centred assessment and treatment with public policy and primary care: examples from substance use
  • Lennart Kolenberg – Meaningful music: meaning in writing, playing and listening to music
  • Roger Bretherton –   Humble Leadership and Meaningful Work in Higher Education
  • Patricia Santibáñez Fernández – ‘What hurts and worries us’: The meaning of autism from the perspective of the family.


Christopher Wurm

Title: Meaningful music: meaning in writing, playing and listening to music

Affiliation: Sefton Park Primary Health Care Service, Adelaide, Australia


implications for practice: This presentation aims to Integrate meaning-centred practices in substance use disorder with harm minimisation and public health approaches

Implications for research: This area calls for more research, particularly considering the role of self-transcendence.



Integrating meaning-centred assessment and treatment with public policy and primary care: examples from substance use. There are valuable resonances between existential approaches to substance use and WR Miller’s “Motivational Interviewing.” Examples will be drawn from work with homeless people and people released from prison.


Lennart Kolenberg

 Title: Meaningful music: meaning in writing, playing and listening to music

Affiliation: University for Humanistic Studies, Utrecht, the Netherlands



In my master thesis for Humanistic Studies, I have looked to ground the view that playing, writing  and listening to music can be meaningful, through a theoretical research involving theories from the fields of psychology, philosophy, theology and anthropology.

In order to determine music as meaningful, I have used the view of Alma & Smaling (2010) regarding meaning as being a process of relating to various experiences, which requires an active approach: it involves meaning-making. I have limited my research to focus on the experiences of transcendence, recognition, connectivity and competence.

We can distinguish two modes in which music is meaningful. It can either be perceived as a direct vessel of meaning, with music having a meaning of its own, or as facilitating, enhancing or accelerating meaning from other sources.

In listening to music, an example of music as a direct vessel of meaning can be found in the role music plays in the work of Schopenhauer, in bypassing the omnipresent immanent transcendent energy causing all suffering. The role of music in forming and maintaining subcultures can be seen as an example of horizontal transcendence. It is also an example of facilitating meaning: it is the music which brings together the people who form meaningful connections.

In addressing the writing of music, I emphasize the meaning of lyrics, and the possibility of connecting music to narrative therapy. Writing an autobiographical song can invoke experiences of competence and recognition, the latter making it ideal for uses in elderly care.

In addressing the playing of music, I have focused on several theories on music therapy and the meaningful act of performing. The theory of the importance of playing, with the Homo Ludens, the playing man, is also addressed here. Huizinga’s theory emphasizes several elements of play which can be considered meaningful, including playing as an act of freedom and as creating order.

The research, while being predominantly theoretical, has been written with the possible application of several meaningful functions of music in counselling practices in mind.


Roger Bretherton


Title: Humble Leadership and Meaningful Work in Higher Education

Affiliation: School of Psychology, University of Lincoln


implications for practice: In workplace coaching and consultancy it stresses the need to emphasise humility in leadership development if the workplace is to be meaningful. The presenter has developed a two-day programme for leaders in Higher Education on this premise.

implications for research: This is a further addition to the empirical literature on the frequently overlooked virtue of humility and its power to humanise our understanding of what it means to lead in the world of work.



Previous research suggests that leaders who possess humility facilitate greater work engagement- in those who report to them, because their open-mindedness makes room for the contribution and opinions of others. As a consequence, those who report to them are able to do what they are best at thereby find their daily work more meaningful and engaging. 160 employees in Higher Education were asked to rate their immediate line manager on a measure of Intellectual Humility (IH), and to complete measures of their own work-engagement and strengths use in the workplace. The results were subjected to regression and moderation analysis. There was a significant positive relationship between the IH score given to the leader and the level of work engagement reported by those who reported to them directly. Those who rated their leader as humble were more engaged in their day to day work. However this was moderated by strengths use. The work-engagement of those who felt most able to use their strengths at work was less impacted by the IH of their line manager. For those who reported  little opportunity to  use their strengths at work, the perceived IH of the leader significantly affected their level of work engagement- they were more likely to be engaged at work with leaders who displayed IH behaviours. Humility in leaders, it would appear, makes a significant contribution to allowing those they lead to find the workplace engaging, worthwhile and meaningful.


Patricia Santibáñez Fernández

Affiliation: Universidad de La Frontera, University of Wales Trinity Saint David

Title: ‘What hurts and worries us’: The meaning of autism from the perspective of the family.


implications for practice: The study vividly illustrates the emotional and relational strain experienced by family members when a child is diagnosed with ASD. It particularly highlights the experience of family members outside the immediate nuclear family, who become equally involved in the care and support of the child. The findings suggest issues that can be explored for therapeutic gain.

implications for research: There is a need to broaden our understanding of the experience of extended family members who are actively involved in caring for a child with ASD in the Chilean context. It becomes clear that further research is necessary on the psychotherapeutic processes of the family involvement – this in consideration of the significant emotional impact that the diagnosis has, and the tendency of the family to avoid communication of these difficulties.



From the perspective of all the family members involved, what is the experience of autism? And how do family members make sense of this experience? The prevalence of young people diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) has increased significantly in Chile, with most studies investigating its impact on the nuclear family – leaving the impact and influence of this phenomena on the extended family to be overlooked. This qualitative study explores the whole family experience of a child diagnosed with ASD, from the perspective of parents, siblings, grandparents and uncles. A case study was conducted using interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA): data collection consisted of semi-structured interviews with six family members from Temuco (Chile). Findings illustrate the experience of family members associated with the diagnosis of autism (e.g. uncertainty about the future; frustration) as well as the unexpected emotional and social demands (e.g. acceptance; adaptation; discrimination) linked to the care of an autistic child. Two major themes are presented in this poster: 1) Facing the diagnosis: what hurts and worries the family; and 2) the challenges and demands of caring for a child with autism.  The study contributes to understanding the meaning-making process within the family as it emerges from their day-to-day living, and the reciprocal influences on one another that family members have regarding their experience of caring for a child with autism.