Sibling stories of parental mental distress

Wendy O'Neill, Pieter W. Nel, Nic Horley, Lizette Nolte

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This paper reports on the results of a study exploring sibling stories of parental mental distress and the societal discourses that may have contributed to the adult siblings' sense‐making. Four sibling pairs were purposively recruited and interviewed, using a narrative inquiry approach. Two main plots were constructed through analysis of the participants' narratives: ‘The story of us’ and ‘We are who we are because of what happened’. Results highlighted that the identity construction of each sibling and the collective identities of the sibling pairs are influenced by the parental mental health context. The findings also suggest a change in the siblings' meaning‐making from childhood to adulthood. These findings are considered along with the implications for systemic practice and research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)121-139
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Family Therapy
Issue number2
Early online date7 Apr 2024
Publication statusPublished - May 2024


  • intergenerational family therapy
  • sibling relationships
  • sibling experience
  • parents' psychological distress
  • parental mental health


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