Date of Paper

5-2014

Type of Paper

Clinical research paper

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (M.S.W.)

Department

Social Work

First Advisor

Kari Fletcher

Abstract

Homelessness is a devastating experience, regardless of the stage of life in which it is experienced. For homeless young adults, the experience is particularly challenging, as what ought to be a time of exploration and self-discovery becomes a time focused on basic survival. In this research study, I explored the first-hand, lived experiences of young adults (n = 6) who experienced homelessness between the ages of 16 and 24. Using qualitative methods and a strengths perspective focus, I interviewed six young adults about the way they managed and survived homelessness. I analyzed resulting data from interview transcriptions and developed themes, which included the participants’ personal experiences and feelings about “getting through” homelessness, recognition of resources and supports which contributed to their ability to survive and exit homelessness and future hopes and dreams. My findings revealed common themes: study participants drew on internal experiences and coping skills, along with experiences learned from personal history and from homelessness, in order to exit homelessness. The findings also showed participants drew on common resources and supports, including “adopting” a trusted adult for support and taking advantage of more formal systems of support.

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