Strategies for Cultivating Purpose Among Adolescents in Clinical Settings



Meaning and purpose share a focus on personal significance, but purpose represents a narrower construct than meaning. Whereas meaning refers to any experience one defines as personally significant, a purpose in life refers more specifically to goal-oriented, enduring aims that are at once personally meaningful and at the same time motivated by a desire to have an impact on the world beyond the self. Because of its distinctive beyond the self dimension, a purpose in life is associated with a wide range of psychological and physical benefits that enhance youth development. The construct is associated with thriving across the lifespan, but particularly during adolescence when it can contribute to healthy identity development and provide young people who might otherwise be drifting with a productive sense of direction. Despite the benefits associated with leading a life of purpose, the experience is rare. Only about 20 % of young people possess a purpose in life. To begin to address this issue, this chapter offers three empirically based approaches that mental health professionals can take to help foster purpose in the lives of young people.


Purpose in life Adolescents Therapeutic interventions Psychological well-being 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Quality of Life Research CenterClaremont Graduate UniversityClaremontUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyClaremont Graduate UniversityClaremontUSA

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