Parkinson’s disease (PD) is one of the fastest-growing neurological diseases in the world. Pharmaceutical and surgical interventions continue to advance to better address motor symptoms. However, disability from non-motor symptoms, such as depression, anxiety, and stress persist. Expressive therapies, including art, music, and dance are being explored and implemented more frequently to address this growing need. We developed this study to examine the feasibility of a novel program using online narrative therapy, with constructs from Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey, and improvisation for people with PD (PWPD). Participants from across the U.S. and U.K. met online via Zoom once a week for one hour over the course of 27 consecutive sessions. A PhD student with a professional background in filmmaking and improvisation developed the sessions and led the program. The primary aim was to assess feasibility, the threshold for which was set at 70% of participants attending a minimum of 75% of the classes. Sixteen of 21 participants (76%) completed the study, with all 16 attending at least 85% of the classes. All participants who completed the study stated they enjoyed the class and would like to continue in the program and see it offered to others with PD. The secondary aim was to explore the participants’ experience within the program using a phenomenological approach. Four major themes emerged: 1) There was a high level of interest in the intervention itself as it was deemed unique; 2) Participants struggled to see their own heroic qualities; 3) They reported high levels of connection within the group and 4) The emphasis on having PD faded, replaced by journeys of self-discovery beyond having PD.
Cochrane, Robert D.; Navalta, James W.; and Weisman, Anne E.
"The Hero’s Journey as a Novel, Narrative, and Improvisational Group Intervention on Quality of Life for People with Parkinson’s Disease,"
Heroism Science: Vol. 8:
1, Article 1.
Available at: https://scholarship.richmond.edu/heroism-science/vol8/iss1/1