Everyone Has Their Scars: Meaning Making In a Burn Survivor Support Group.

Date of Award


Document Type

Doctoral Capstone

Degree Name



Graduate School of Professional Psychology

First Advisor

Kimberly Gorgens

First Committee Member

Laura Meyer

Second Committee Member

Janet Shriberg


Social support ; Behavior/CBT; Qualitative Research; Posttraumatic growth ; Support group ; Burn injury


In the Burn Care literature, there is little on the lived experiences of burn support group members, the perceived benefits of burn support groups for the members, and even less on the meaning the survivors make of the support they receive. In order to provide effective services and to meet the psychosocial needs of burn survivors, it is important to understand the influence a support group has on its members as well as the personal experiences of those individuals who attend these groups. The purpose of this study was to explore the meaning that burn survivors make in a burn survivor support group. A non-random, purposeful convenience sample of six self-identified burn survivors was interviewed using a guided in-depth interview technique to explore their experiences in the support group. Key informant interviews and group observations served to triangulate the data collected in the individual interviews. The experiences of the group's members coalesced around five main themes: acceptance of self, perspective change, value of community, reciprocity, and structural meaning making components. The findings demonstrated the overall positive impact the support group had on psychosocial recovery. Additionally, analysis suggested that the meaning making process experience included Post Traumatic Growth and highlighted the importance of community in psychosocial recovery. Burn survivors reported unique growth opportunities that allowed them to integrate their injury into their identity within an encouraging and safe environment. Certain factors, such as improving group attendance, were addressed and both survivors and support staff generated suggestions for reaching others in need of support.


Copyright is held by the author. Permanently suppressed.


46 pages

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