Alumni Dissertations

 

Alumni Dissertations

Filter Dissertations By:

 
 
  • SIBLING ABUSE: UNDERSTANDING DEVELOPMENTAL CONSEQUENCES THROUGH OBJECT RELATIONS, FAMILY SYSTEMS, AND RESILIENCY THEORIES

    Author:
    Amy Meyers
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Social Welfare
    Advisor:
    Harriet Goodman
    Abstract:

    This phenomenological qualitative study explored childhood and adolescent sibling abuse among adult survivors. The original intent was to explore informant's perceptions of the effects of sibling abuse on their adult relationships. However, the study revealed significant findings beyond adult informant's relatedness. Although some claim sibling abuse occurs more frequently than parent-child or spousal abuse, data tracking its incidence is unavailable. Therefore, it remains overlooked as normative sibling rivalry. Based on informants' descriptions of their abuse, I distinguished sibling abuse as a distinct phenomenon with devastating childhood consequences and repercussions in self-concept and relatedness which extend into adulthood. In addition, this study provides rich description of the phenomenon of sibling abuse. Because no theoretically driven research about sibling relationships and object relations, family systems, and emerging theories of risk and resilience exist, this study incorporated sibling abuse into a developmental understanding of personality using these theoretical lenses. Methods included recruitment of through flyers posted in colleges, graduate schools, local Y's, and churches in addition to an advertisement in a professional social work newsletter. This yielded a sample of 19 self-identified survivors of sibling abuse, 15 female and four male. All subjects were over age 21 and once screened for a history of childhood or adolescent sibling abuse, participated in in-person in-depth interviews. I constructed an original interview guide informed by sensitizing concepts from the work of Weihe (1997). Findings indicated sibling abuse put children at grave risk for physical and psychological injury. Additionally, the abusive sibling relationship affected perception of self and others into adulthood. Informants expressed problems establishing relationships both as children and as adults. Parent-child abuse was present many cases and modeled detrimental methods of communication. Informants expressed resilience through establishing relationships outside the home as children and through successful career achievement as adults. Implications for this study include the need for child welfare workers to identify children at risk for sibling abuse. Mental health practitioners need heightened awareness of risk factors, symptoms, and devastating repercussions of sibling abuse. Limitations of the study include a homogeneous sample. This suggests the need for similar research with more demographically diverse samples.

  • ReCONNECTING TO RESILIENCE: A HISTORICAL STUDY OF SLAVE NARRATIVES WITH IMPLICATIONS FOR SOCIAL WORK PRACTICE WITH AFRICAN AMERICAN YOUTH FROM HIGH RISK ENVIRONMENTS

    Author:
    Barbara Milton II
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Social Welfare
    Advisor:
    Stephen Burghardt
    Abstract:

    "ReConnecting to Historical Resilience" A HISTORICAL STUDY OF SLAVE NARRATIVES WITH IMPLICATIONS FOR SOCIAL WORK PRACTICE WITH AFRICAN AMERICAN YOUTH FROM HIGH RISK ENVIRONMENTS. by Barbara E. Milton, II Adviser: Professor Stephen Burghardt The often times high risk environment of African American youth negatively impacts their psychological well being, their family relations and community connections. Many African American youth today are experiencing the vestiges of historical trauma that took root in America in the 17th Century when the first Africans came to America. As a result of generational transmission of historical trauma, many youths today are disproportionately underachieving in education, disproportionately poor, disproportionately monitored by police and incarcerated and disproportionately disrespected by the society at large. In order to reduce the disparity of contemporary problems effecting African American youth, social scientists need to discover a wider array of protective factors to promote resilience in the face of overwhelming exposure to historical trauma and its attendant environmental risks and deleterious consequences. The researcher uses historical lenses and methodology to explore protective factors used by 100 former African American slaves to increase our understanding of ways to strengthen resiliency for the adolescent progeny of the African American slave today. The stories of over two thousand emancipated slaves are archived in the Library of Congress in the collection of written interviews known as the Federal Writers Project Slave Narratives. According to Thomas v Soapes (1977), two thirds of those interviewed were age fifteen or younger at the time emancipation; almost all of the remainder were in their late teens or twenties in 1865. The data analysis process yielded the discovery of sixteen (16) protective factors related to the survival story of the slave. The researcher discusses the findings of historical protective factors in the context of historical trauma and other residuals of chattel slavery evident in contemporary society. The researcher introduces an analysis of internal and external connections for resilience as well as puts forwards an analysis of limitations of the study. The last chapter provides a theoretical application of the findings of historical protective factors to contemporary social work practice with African American youth, families and the community. Additionally, the last chapter offers implications for culturally competent social work practice with at-risk African American youth and suggestions for future research.

  • Strengths and Weaknesses of the US-Based Refugee Resettlement Program: As Survey of International Rescue Committee Employee Perceptions

    Author:
    Jennifer Mincin
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Social Welfare
    Advisor:
    Irwin Epstein
    Abstract:

    The International Rescue Committee (IRC) is among nine agencies in the United States that resettles refugees. There are two core national resettlement programs: the State Department's Reception and Placement (R&P and the Health and Human Services' (HHS) Matching Grant (MG). These two programs largely have been designed to accomplish refugee self-sufficiency by way of early employment programming and services. Resettlement agencies, such as the IRC, are now beginning to initiate other program areas aside from early employment such as health and wellness, children and youth, and other concepts of financial literacy and economic empowerment. This staff self-sufficiency study surveyed IRC field staff, known in this dissertation as "employees," to gain a better understanding of the efficacy and effectiveness of the U.S. resettlement program and as a way to consider more integrative concepts of programs and program evaluation. There is a dearth of empirical research, data, and analysis regarding resettlement programs based in the U.S. and especially in regard to understanding employee perceptions. Therefore, this study is one approach to better understanding, capturing, and tracking (through a database and analysis) meaningful information regarding services provided to refugees in the U.S. The overall study finding is that IRC employees see self-sufficiency as incorporating early and long-term employment, financial understanding (such as knowing financial management), the ability to advocate for oneself, self-reliance, and non-dependence on government assistance. Further, IRC employees appear to believe in an integrated approach to working with refugees and service provision. Based on the findings from the study and the literature review, the dissertation recommends practice, research, and advocacy to expand the current definition of refugee self-sufficiency, gather more quantifiable information on the current resettlement program, build stronger data tracking and program evaluation, and support program growth. This process has already begun to be embraced at the IRC.

  • A PHENOMENOLOGICAL STUDY OF AGENDA FOR CHILDREN TOMORROW'S ROLE AND PRIMARY RESPONSIBILITIES IN TWO COMPREHENSIVE COMMUNITY INITIATIVES, BROWNSVILLE-EAST NEW YORK AND BUSHWICK

    Author:
    Nina Moreno
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Social Welfare
    Advisor:
    Irwin Epstein
    Abstract:

    Recent studies of community-based organizations suggest the need for more qualitative/ descriptive accounts of organizations such as Agenda for Children Tomorrow (ACT). ACT is intended to function as an effective social, political, and economic capital building agent, on multiple levels, for low-income children and families throughout New York City. This qualitative study, utilizing phenomenological methodology, seeks to describe and conceptualize ACT's role and primary responsibilities in the change goals (at the individual, family, neighborhood, and systems levels) and outcomes, central principles (i.e., comprehensiveness and community building), and operational strategies (i.e., governance, funding, staffing, technical assistance, evaluation, and program development) of two Brooklyn-based comprehensive community efforts: Brownville-East New York and Bushwick. In addition to observing meetings and reviewing agency documents, interviews were conducted with partners from Brownsville-East New York and Bushwick as well as partners from the government, foundation, and policy advocacy arenas. Interviews were also conducted with current and previous ACT staff. Grounded theory methodology was utilized in this cross-case content analysis of the interviews. Meanings of ACT's role and primary responsibilities in the aforementioned areas of the comprehensive community efforts emerged from this analysis. Cross-community analysis of meanings revealed similarities and differences between each group of stakeholders in their understanding of ACT and their activities in Brownsville-East New York and Bushwick's comprehensive community-building initiatives. Implications of this study for future social work research, including the development of an evaluation model, were discussed.

  • Studying and facilitating the development, installation and initial implementation of an interdisciplinary buprenorphine treatment/practice: A practice-focused, action research, implementation study.

    Author:
    Nancy Murphy
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Social Welfare
    Advisor:
    Mimi Abramovitz
    Abstract:

    Using Action Research, Implementation Science, and Institutional Ethnography, this practice-focused research explored inhibiting and promoting factors related to implementing buprenorphine treatment within HIV primary care while simultaneously developing, installing and initially implementing an interdisciplinary buprenorphine treatment/practice. Data was collected and analyzed using constructivist grounded theory method strategies. Data collection/generation included documentary analysis, key informant interviews, field data from collaborative interdisciplinary team processes, researcher reflective practice, a patient focus group, and an interdisciplinary buprenorphine treatment/practice manual. The research had several achievements. It identified three key implementation inhibiting categories, (1) significant and persistent bias, (2) plaguing and difficult questions, and (3) buprenorphine expectionalism. It also developed countering implementation promoting categories, (1) be an educated advocate and dispel myths, (2) identify core components of interdisciplinary buprenorphine treatment and uniformity of care, and (3) dementionalizing interdisciplinary treatment/practice. It exposed scope of practice issues and mapped out the specifics of the types of services each discipline would provide, the detail of those practices, their coordination, as well as the areas of practice where there was joint responsibility and overlap. It increased the capacity and competences of the research organization and the 18 interdisciplinary buprenorphine team members. It also explicated the many forms of power operating in the study and the importance of power sharing, adapting treatment, leadership support, structural components and resources on the development and implementation process. This study shed light on the reality that prescribing buprenorphine and taking up the practice of treating opioid dependence/addiction means that clinicians must be prepared and skilled to provide care where issues of life and death, emotional distress, and significant uncertainties are part of the landscape. The study findings also highlight that balancing safety (both patient and staff) with control and authority is an important aspect of buprenorphine treatment. An interdisciplinary focus expanded the concept of treatment and addressed many important aspects of caring for people with opioid dependence/addiction that often go unaccounted for and/or unnoticed. Without an interdisciplinary frame, patients are at risk for receiving substandard care. This study demonstrated that the interdisciplinary practices needed to provide quality care and improve health outcomes are interdependent.

  • A Study of Predictors of College Completion Among SEEK Immigrant Students

    Author:
    Marie Nazon
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Social Welfare
    Advisor:
    Elizabeth Danto
    Abstract:

    This study examined the strength of the relationship between eight situational and demographic variables and college completion among immigrant students in SEEK, an educational opportunity program. The eight variables studied as possible predictors of college completion included household composition, length of residency, English as a primary language, high school grade point average, age, gender, ethnicity, and year of entry. In addition, the study compared graduation rate of SEEK immigrant students admitted earlier in the program (1995-2000) versus those who entered later (2001-2003) when the admission criteria were changed. The study took place at the City College of New York (CCNY), a four-year, urban, public institution which is a branch of The City University of New York (CUNY). The study focused on the overarching question of are selected factors predictors of college completion among SEEK immigrant students? The conclusions of this archival quantitative study were based on data from a sample of 390 SEEK immigrant students. Data was collected from the SEEK City College admission application form which provided pre-existing, multi-year information on student background characteristics and graduation status. Results from chi-square, t-test and regression analysis suggested that four out of the eight pre-enrollment variables are useful in discriminating between completers and non-completers. High school GPA was the strongest predictor of college completion. Household composition, year of entry and gender also seem to have significant effects on college completion. It is notable that completers have a significantly higher GPA than non completers. Students who entered CCNY as members of the later cohort, enrolling in 2001 or after when the CUNY admission requirements became more selective, had a higher high school GPA and were more likely to graduate. The results also indicate that students who came from a large family household were more likely to complete than students from nuclear families. To some extent the study concluded that what students come into college with influences whether they complete college. Other pre-enrollment variables ( e.g. age, English as a primary language and length of residency) did not seem to significantly effect college completion in this sample.Overall, the study provided an initial and important exploration of some of the pre-enrollment factors that are associated with college success and therefore upward mobility among immigrant students. The implication of the study is that some pre-enrollment background characteristics effect college completion and should be taken into account in counseling theory, practice and policy. Based on the findings of the study, programmatic interventions were suggested to address the needs of this specific population

  • A Cross-National Comparison of Perceptions of Aging and Older Adults

    Author:
    Nora O'Brien-Suric
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Social Welfare
    Advisor:
    Irwin Epstein
    Abstract:

    This study provides an overview of perceptions of aging and older people from five different countries. It focuses on demographic variables that have been shown to have an influence on how people perceive aging and older people. It explores the perceptions of aging and older adults in a cross-national context. The study conducts a quantitative analysis of a database consisting of survey responses from five countries conducted by Harris Interactive, Inc. for the International Longevity Center - USA in 2000. The five countries compared are: the Dominican Republic, France, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States. There are four categories of attitudes: Perceptions of Aging and Older People; Perceptions of Life Satisfaction for Self; Perceptions of Quality of Life for Self; and Perception of Quality of Life for People Sixty-five and Older. Data from each of the five countries are analyzed separately and are then compared and analyzed. This study is a secondary analysis of a database consisting of responses from 7,161 people between 18 and 99 years of age (Dominican Republic N = 1,001; France N = 1,004; Japan N = 1,118; United Kingdom N = 990; United States N = 3,048). The independent variables are: age, gender, marital status, and income levels. The dependent variables are the four attitude domains of: Perceptions of Aging and Older People; Perceptions of Life Satisfaction for Self; Perceptions of Quality of Life for Self; and Perception of Quality of Life for People Sixty-five and Older. Each country is separately analyzed using one way Analysis of Variance, Chi-Square, or Independent T-Tests. The results of the analysis are then compared with the other countries and discussed. This study demonstrates that perceptions of aging and older adults differ when viewed through the cultural lenses of various countries.

  • Experiences with Infant Mortality as Reported by Middle Class Black American Women: In Their Own Words

    Author:
    Lisa Paisley-Cleveland
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Social Welfare
    Advisor:
    Miriam Abramovitz
    Abstract:

    The issue of Black Infant Mortality (BIM) appears to mirror the findings of disparities in poor health care and poor medical outcomes for minorities in the United States. The BIM rate of (13.3) is almost twice for all women (6.7) and more than twice the rate for white women (5.6). The BIM disparity holds even when variables such as income, education, and marital status are similar. This study explored the lived experience of infant loss through in-depth interviews with eight black-American middle-class women. It aimed to understand the contributing factors present among middle class black women, which could help in understanding the adverse birth outcomes for the target group studied. All of the women revealed experiences with stress, from the time of pre-conception and throughout the entire pregnancy, although they gave little recognition to the negative affects of such stress on their medical health or the health of their unborn fetus. Coping mechanisms linked to a racial history, influenced the concept of self-expectation and responses to stress. The presence of medical markers, a prominent theme, should be useful in the prevention of adverse pregnancy outcomes, if addressed. The role of race was implicated in quality of care issues, imbedded in medical views influenced by the prevalence of adverse birth outcomes for black women. The lack of timely medical tests to rule out the presence of a medical diagnosis was a probable consequence of such views. In this study, an unexpected finding was that the majority of the fathers had a family history of premature births and infant loss.

  • The relationship between social support and health-related quality of life among Korean American nursing home residents

    Author:
    Su-Jeong Park
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Social Welfare
    Advisor:
    Bernadette Hadden
    Abstract:

    This descriptive and exploratory mixed-method study examined the relationship between social support and health-related quality of life among Korean American nursing home residents. It examined the social support networks of the Korean American nursing home residents, the nature of their interpersonal transactions, and the association between social support and quality of life indicators. A cross-sectional survey involving face-to-face interviews (using the social support questionnaire) and data extraction from an existing dataset (Minimum Data Set-MDS) on a sample of 73 cognitively intact Korean American nursing home residents were utilized to examine and understand the relationship between social support and health-related quality of life indicators. Bivariate and multiple regression analyses revealed that social support had main and interactive effects on health-related quality of life indicators. In the bivariate analysis, the appraisal support variable was significantly associated with ADL impairments, depressive symptoms, and self-rated health. In addition, satisfaction with support person was significantly associated with depressive symptoms and self-rated health. Other social support variables, including negative behaviors (being hurt or being upset), perceptions of giving, and perceptions of support were significantly associated with self-rated health among Korean American nursing home residents. After controlling for the covariates, four social support variables were found to be predictive of depressive symptoms: negative behaviors; perceptions of control; frequency interacting with negative behaviors; and negative behaviors interacting with perceptions of control. In addition, perceptions of control and negative behaviors were found to be predictive of negative self-rated health among Korean American nursing home residents. These findings demonstrate the most important sources and types of social support for Korean American nursing home residents and suggest interventions that may help facilitate their quality of life in a nursing home setting. Implications for social work practice and future directions for research are also discussed.

  • The Experience of Clinician-Litigators at Impartial Hearings: An Exploratory Phenomenological Study with Social Policy Implications

    Author:
    Augusto Quiros
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Social Welfare
    Advisor:
    Harriet Goodman
    Abstract:

    This exploratory study investigated the experiences of social workers, psychologists, and educators serving as clinician-litgators representing the the local education agency at impartial hearings. The role of the clinician-litigator provides a window into the conflict between the principles of ethical advocacy that informs the work of the helping professions and the principles of traditional adversary advocacy that guides the work of the legal profession, because it requires bridging these two advocacy traditions. The fifteen clilnician-litigators interviwed for this study acquired and applied legal skills in theier work as district representatives at impartial hearings but also retained their traditional professional orientations toward understanding and serving the needs of students. A phenomenological, grounded-theory approach to studying the experiences of the clinican-litigators facilitated reflection on their experiences and observations of the hearing process, which illuminated the ethical contradictions they encountered. Exploring the experiences of the clinician-litigators yielded rich data on their individual performance of a heretofore uninvestigated role. It also highlighted several societal issues concerning the provision of services to special education students. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act was intended to promote the integration of disabled students into the educational mainstream. It specified the use of impartial hearings as a mechanism of dispute resolution between parents and the local education agency with the two parties on an equal footing. Over the past two decades, impartial hearings have been increasingly used by parents to seek private school tuition, fostering a form of segregation directly opposed to the intent of the Act. The observations and experiences of the clinician-litigators revealed how this mechanism of dispute resolution increased conflict between parents and the local education agency. It undermined the efforts of educational professionals to serve the best interests of students. Further, highlighted the tension between the forces in society that would utilize the principles of distributive justice to promote integration and create equality of opportunity and those that would promote privitization of public services and institutionalize segregation based on socioeconomic status.