Significant life events as a journey of meaning making and change among at-risk youths

Keren Michael, Liad Solenko, Liat Yakhnich, Orit Karnieli-Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The study examined at-risk youths’ meaning making of their own significant life events and the contribution of these events to changes in their lives. Narrative interviews with 14 Israeli at-risk youths (aged 16–18) revealed three themes: (a) the event as a powerful, emotional-awakening experience; (b) self-inquiry following the event, differentiating between life before and after, and (c) biographical changes in the youths’ lives. Despite the diversity of the events, certain similarities were identified among them: they were perceived as surprising in their timing and intensity, as conveying a broader message, and as the cause of the youths’ choice to take responsibility for themselves and their interactions with significant others. Use of narrative theories of personality provides insight into at-risk youths’ meaning making of their difficult experiences. The deep exploration and construction of these experiences reveal the process in which difficult life events can lead to positive changes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)441-460
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Youth Studies
Issue number4
StatePublished - 21 Apr 2018


  • Significant life events
  • at-risk youth
  • meaning making
  • narrative theories of personality


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