Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Life Lived Well: A Description of Wellness across the Lifespan of a Senior Woman

Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Life Lived Well: A Description of Wellness across the Lifespan of a Senior Woman

Article excerpt

A Description of Wellness across the Lifespan of a Senior Woman

In 1989, the Governing Council of the American Association for Counseling and Development (AACD), now the American Counseling Association (ACA), adopted a resolution that committed ACA to be advocates for wellness. The resolution reads as follows:

WHEREAS, optimum physical, intellectual, social, occupational, emotional, and spiritual development are worthy goals for all individuals within our society; and

WHEREAS, research in virtually every discipline concerned with human development supports the benefits of wellness for both longevity and quality of life over the lifespan; and

WHEREAS, the AACD membership subscribe to values which promote optimum health and wellness;

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Governing Council of AACD declare a position for the profession as advocates for policies and programs in all segments of our society which promote and support optimum health and wellness; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that AACD support the counseling and development professions' position as advocate toward a goal of optimum health and wellness within our society. (AACD, 1990, p. XIV-8)

As noted in this resolution, wellness is one of the cornerstones of the counseling profession (Myers, 1992). The term wellness can be defined as "the quality or state of being in good health especially as an actively sought goal" (Merriam-Webster, 2008). According to this definition, well-being is achieved through adequate health and acceptance of what is normal; however, professionals in the counseling/mental health field believe that wellness is not just a state of good health but an active decision-making process leading to optimum health and functioning (Witmer & Sweeney, 1992). Wellness is defined by these professionals as:

A way of life oriented toward optimal health and well-being, in which body, mind, and spirit are integrated by the individual to live life more fully within the human and natural community. Ideally, it is the optimum state of health and well-being that each individual is capable of achieving. (Myers, Sweeney, & Witmer, 2000, p. 252)

In addition to wellness, another cornerstone in the counseling field is development. The term develop means "to expand by a process of growth" or "to work out the possibilities" (Merriam-Webster, 2008). Development is concerned with positive human change and is actually the goal of all counseling interventions (Ivey & Ivey, 2010). Since positive developmental change at any point in life affects the totality of the remaining life span, according to Ivey and Ivey, counselors need to optimize human development now in order to help others become more fully functioning for the remainder of their lives.

Early on, Myers (1992) argued that in order for the counseling profession to embrace an identity based on wellness and development, research showing the benefits of developmental interventions across the life span and wellness interventions on individuals is necessary. In response to this argument, many investigators explored the construct of wellness in various populations by utilizing The Indivisible Self: An Evidenced-Based Model of Wellness (IS-Wel; Myers & Sweeney, 2004, 2005) and its corresponding instrument, the Five Factor Wellness Inventory (5F-Wel; Myers & Sweeney, 1999); however, the majority of these studies were quantitative in nature. Due to paucity in research of qualitative wellness studies in the counseling field, the purpose of this study was to explore one woman's wellness across the life span by using qualitative methods. Through analysis of the participant's oral history through the lens of the Indivisible Self (Myers & Sweeney, 2004, 2005) wellness model, we formulated a descriptive picture of wellness across the life span for one senior adult woman.

Before conducting our study, we reviewed the wellness literature and found 21 studies related to the Indivisible Self model. …

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