'I Now Have a Life!' Lived Experiences of Participation in Music and Theater in a Mental Health Hospital

Kristin Berre Ørjasæter
Larry Davidson
Marianne Hedlund
Ottar Bjerkeset
Ottar Ness


Participation in activities perceived to be meaningful is of importance in recovery processes among people with mental illness. This qualitative study explored experiences of participation in music and theater among people with long-term mental illness. Data were collected through in-depth interviews with 11 participants in a music and theater workshop carried out in a Norwegian mental health hospital context. Through a hermeneutical-phenomenological analysis, three central themes emerged: (a) engaging in the moment, (b) reclaiming everyday life, and (c) dreaming of a future. The findings indicate that participation in music and theater provided an opportunity to focus on enjoyable mundane activities and demonstrate how arts have the potential to bring meaning and more specifically small positive moments into participants’ lives. Despite seeming to be small in nature, these moments appeared to be able to add pleasure and meaning to the lives of those experiencing them. Consequently, there is a need to raise professionals’ awareness of these small positive moments of meaning, the power these experiences carry, and how to facilitate arenas which can provide such moments for people with long-term mental illness. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved)