Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ded)


Educational and School Psychology

First Advisor

Mary Ann Rafoth, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Victoria Damiani, Ed.D.

Third Advisor

Mark Staszkiewicz, Ed.D.

Fourth Advisor

Margarite Alegria, Ph.D.


This study examines the self-reported immigration histories of Haitian adolescents who were separated and reunited from family due to family immigration from Haiti to the U.S. From the literature regarding trauma and resilience, it was the researcher’s expectation that the child’s construing of the events, rather than any specific events in the history, that was most influential in assisting the child in good adjustment during and after the separation, immigration, and reunion. Twelve Haitian adolescents, 6 male and 6 female, all aged 18 to 20, were drawn from a community sample at a high school. They were interviewed using an semi-structured, openended protocol designed for the study. The interviews were transcribed and analyzed using interpretative phenomenological analysis, a specific qualitative analysis technique. The participants also completed the Youth Self Report, an instrument designed to measure psychological problems that is well-validated cross-culturally. Results of the Youth Self Report and the clinical impression of the author both indicated that, despite lengthy separations from parents and other events that could potentially have been traumatizing, the participants were, as a group, not suffering from serious psychological problems. The analysis of the interviews revealed a large number of common themes among the participants. Most salient were themes of resilience in difficult circumstances. These included developing self-agency, seeking out social support, and beliefs in the power of forbearance and their ability to overcome difficulty. The salience of these themes tended to support the importance of the interpretative stance of the adolescent for good adjustment.