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Date of Award


Degree Type

Dissertation (On-Campus Access Only)

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)

Committee Chair

Jon Frew, PhD, ABPP

Second Advisor

Catherine Moonshine, PhD, MSCP MAC, CADC III

Third Advisor

Christiane Brems, PhD


Every year 25,000 to 30,000 adolescents in foster care will be emancipated into independent living on their own. They will neither be reunited with the family nor will they be adopted into another family. Without adequate social support emancipated foster care alumni will struggle to meet many of their basic needs. Research provides sufficient evidence that the outcomes for this group are grim including problems in education, homelessness, and mental health. While some believe that these outcomes are primarily a result of traumatic histories prior to being placed in foster care, it is important to consider that there also exists a distinct culture in foster care that threatens the development of children in ways that follow them into adulthood. As emancipated foster care alumni seek mental health treatment to cope with various concerns, it is crucial that the cultural contexts of their development be considered in assessment and intervention. In this study cultural characteristics of foster care will be identified and evidence provided supporting Gestalt therapy as a compelling approach to treating emancipated foster care alumni in a culturally sensitive manner.


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