Date of Award

Spring 4-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD)


Occupational Therapy

First Advisor

Pamela Kasyan-Howe, OTD, OTR/L

Second Advisor

Kristen Domville, DrOT, OTR/L

Third Advisor

Jose Rafols, OTD, MHSA, OTR/L

Medical Subject Headings

Mental Health, Social Participation, Self-Control, Self-Efficacy, Violence, Adolescent, Occupational Therapy, Adaptation--Psychological, Vulnerable Populations, Program Development


Throughout the years, youth participating in violence has become an increased concern around the nation as there is an increase in media outlets displaying tragedies, such as mass school shootings caused by students. The at-risk youth population is a specific population disadvantaged in engaging in safe and health-promoting activities due to limited resources or opportunities. As a result, at-risk youth make decisions based on their disadvantaged environment (Farajzadegan et al., 2018; Gallagher et al., 2015a). Factors including socioeconomic status, social support from family or friends, and mental health impact an individual’s opinions, attitudes, and interests as well as their occupational choices. When one or more of these factors are lacking, it may hinder both social participation and self-regulation skills. Poor social participation and self-regulation skills impair initiating and maintaining positive relationships and the ability to cope and adapt to the social environment. When constantly faced with traumatic or significant life challenges, at-risk youth are more likely to have lower self-efficacy or beliefs in their capabilities (Burger & Samuel, 2017). Occupational therapists can further develop social participation and self-regulation skills. However, they are underutilized on intervention teams for the at-risk youth population despite their trained background in mental health. Therefore, the purpose of this capstone project was to implement an occupation-based program to improve social participation and self-regulation skills in at-risk youth to prevent youth violence and decrease maladaptive behaviors.


Capstone project submitted to the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Occupational Therapy