Communicated narrative sense-making theory: Linking storytelling and well-being

Jody Koenig Kellas

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

46 Scopus citations


Telling and hearing significant family stories can have lasting effects on those involved, often in the form of values, impressions, fears, lessons, and/or beliefs. Whether family stories are lasting may be an artifact of the way stories are told, when, where, and with whom. The content of messages and stories matters as does the process of storytelling. The meaning of storytelling content, along with the verbal and nonverbal tone, pace, warmth, engagement, coordination, humor, tension, hesitation, silences, sarcasm, touch, other-centeredness, responses, questions, and turn-taking, all create an environment in which the telling of stories can affect, reflect, foster, and/or inhibit connection, sense-making, and coping. Research on the content and process of family storytelling suggests links to mental, physical, and relational health, which in turn suggests interventionist opportunities for increasing sense-making, cohesion, and well-being. The significance of family storytelling is contextualized in the current chapter on communicated narrative sense-making (CNSM) theory, designed to synthesize and systematize the influence of storytelling content, process, and translation on individuals, families, and health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationEngaging Theories in Family Communication
Subtitle of host publicationMultiple Perspectives
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9781351790680
ISBN (Print)9781138700932
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)
  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Psychology(all)


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