Affiliation: dott.ssa Maria Iole Colombini, Via Collegno, 15-20158 Milan, Italy.
Background: Diabetes is a particularly difficult burden for the young adolescent, who is confronted with a chronic and potentially life-threatening illness in addition to the developmental challenges of adolescence. Adolescents with this illness are at risk for impaired psychosocial functioning as well as poor glycemic control and its many consequences.
Method: In this article we describe some aspects of the emotional experience of adolescents aged 12 to 14 who are confronted with the sense of limitation caused by diabetes. These descriptions are based on our observations of youngsters who attended a special summer camp aimed at helping them acquire the ability to manage their clinical condition. This camp also offered the teenagers the opportunity to tell something about themselves, their narratives focusing on emotions rather than on the functioning of their body (Barbieri, 2005).
Conclusions: The camp experience facilitated a better understanding of diabetes, a realistic self-appraisal, and age appropriate self-management of the diabetes. An essential aspect of the camp was an interdisciplinary approach in which a psychologist played an important role. An intervention in which adolescents told their stories which was modeled on a popular TV reality show that was designed to facilitate the development of mentalization and the creation of narratives that supported healthy development in the face of chronic illness.