Youths’ Perspectives on Their Relational Identity Development through Residential Treatment

Journal of Therapeutic Schools and Programs - February 2019

Youths’ Perspectives on Their Relational Identity Development through Residential Treatment by Julia K. Riddell, York University; Dr. Debra J. Pepler, York University; Dr. Victoria Creighton, Pine River Institute.

The goal of this study was to examine youths’ narratives of their identity development during a residential, wilderness, and family therapy program. A semistructured interview was conducted, and thematic analysis was used. Youth described their identity in terms of who they learned to be in their relationships, which included being authentic, vulnerable, accepting of themselves and others, empathetic, and honest. They discussed a number of program elements that influenced their identity development, all of which involved relationships with staff, therapists, and other students. Results of this study have implications for staff training, program development, and program evaluation.