’No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of a continent, a part of the main.’ (Donne)
Our relationships with others are changing. We face political crises, socio-economic change, globalisation and an increasing workforce of robots and automation. With the change of our relationships, we change. Our social and personal meanings transform. Our personal values are moving under pressure from commercials and social media. How can we live a meaningful life in this dynamic context? How can we realise our personal dreams? What does research tell about these social and personal changes? How can therapists, coaches and other practitioners empower clients and help them make sense? How can the relationship with a practitioner help clients discover what is meaningful? How can research socially empower individuals? How can social theory direct us towards positive transformation? How do mental health advocates, political activists and artists strive for social justice?
One aim of this conference is connecting people. We want to connect and learn from each other’s theoretical and practical wisdom. We come from many different disciplines: existential philosophy and therapy, coaching, positive and phenomenological psychology, sociology, politics, theology, anthropology, business, HR, and art. We are researchers, practitioners in mental health care, philosophers, activists and artists. We have many interactive and creative forms of connecting, via lectures, workshops, debates, experiential exercises, live client demonstrations, social events… Anyone can propose a presentation, workshop or symposium, and contribute in the open spaces in the program. In the social program, there is opportunity to show your creative talent with music, poetry, art and other forms!
Another aim is exploring the social changes. Researchers will share their findings on social development. Psychologists, sociologists and activists will describe their understanding and vision how we can live a meaningful life.
An additional aim is learning meaningful practices. The pre-conference program offers hands-on skill workshops for therapists, researchers and activists.
Amongst other strands, during the conference, there will be events (lectures, workshops, etc)
around the following strands:
• Existential therapy, coaching & counselling
E.g. client-therapist relationship, grief therapy, meaning in HRM and pastoral care
• Meaning & positive psychology
E.g. research on the impact of the economical and political climate on our lives
• Empirical experiential qualitative research
E.g Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis, phenomenology, hermeneutics, narrative
• Political & social theory
E.g. identity in social context, city life, economics, meaning at work, sociology, anthropology, education
• The practice of social justice & activism
E.g. empowerment via therapy, political groups, mental health lobbyists, diversity in care
• Creative connections
E.g. art, poetry, music, social, mindfulness, nature
The IMEC International Meaning Conference is a bi-annual international conference in the UK for researchers, practitioners and anyone interested in how individuals give meaning to their lives, and how we can help people to live a meaningful life despite life’s challenges (www.meaning.org.uk). The conference started in response to the successful International Meaning Conferences in Canada which are organised by the International Network for Personal Meaning and chaired by professor Paul Wong (www.meaning.ca). The focus of IMEC is on pluralistic and multidisciplinary perspectives on meaning, research and practice from anyone focusing in their work on meaning. The IMEC conference has one day of pre-conference workshops and two days of plenary sessions, workshops and parallel sessions. The focus is on research, practice and their connection. The first conference was hosted by the University of Roehampton in 2017, and had 100 participants from all continents after only four months of promoting. Participants included existential, psychodynamic, Gestalt, CBT and other types of therapists, researchers in positive psychology, priests, philosophers, nurses, psychiatrists, anthropologists, sociologists, social activists and human resource managers. The evaluations were extremely positive. We wil continue building our dynamic community. Because everyone deserves a meaningful life!
General principles behind IMEC conferences
– Focus on connecting individuals and stimulating collaborations
– Multi-disciplinary (psychology, anthropology, philosophy, theology, sociology, humanities, politics, etc.)
– Pluralistic (not one specific meaning-centered ‘school’ of practice or research)
– Connect research and practice
– Any type of practices, e.g. therapists, priests, nurses, community workers, social workers, political activists
– Any type of research, e.g. phenomenological, quantitative, sociological, clinical, community, philosophical explorations
– Creative formats of connecting and learning, eg workshops, debates, etc
– Practical tools for practitioners
– Research inspiration and tools for researchers
– Meaning in different contexts: therapy, coaching, research, work, church, nursing, social activism, community events, etc.
– Evidence-based, where ‘evidence’ can be quantitative or qualitative research, clinical experience or systematic conceptual work
– At the end of the conference, create a joint conference statement with audience and keynote speakers, and publish this
– Accessible for as many individuals as possible (eg low fees for students and unwaged)
– Integration with online tools; e.g. live broadcasting of all sessions online (webinars) + make these available online, so that individuals anywhere in the world can follow this; after the conference, individuals can be in touch with each other via Meaning Online where they can create profiles and upload their research/presentations + presenters who cannot attend the conference can present online