Date of Award

Spring 6-8-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD)


Occupational Therapy

First Advisor

Pamela Kasyan-Howe

Second Advisor

Kristin Domville

Third Advisor

Jose Rafols

Medical Subject Headings

Aggression, Aftercare, Prisons, Schools, Young Adult, Occupational Therapy, Mental Health Services, Program Development


The disproportionate tendency for young adults from disadvantaged backgrounds to shift from schools to the juvenile justice system is referred to as the “school to prison pipeline”. Treating and preventing mental health difficulties is within the scope of occupational therapy, and while the school system assists in mental health treatment, there is a lack of mental health supporting services in after-care settings. The purpose of the program development project is to increase the supportive mental health services provided to at-risk youth in the after-care setting. The project ran mental health group sessions using Cole’s Seven Step Model with participant groups of 10-20 middle school students at two after-care facilities once a week for 9 weeks. Based on the program results, the participants were the most interested in sessions covering confidence building, conflict resolution, and positive communication with adults. They believed that sessions covering aggression, conflict resolution, and positive communication with adults were the most effective in reaching their targeted goal. Increasing the amount of services provided to at-risk youth in urban areas can both increase engagement in typical occupations of youth and decrease the overwhelming number of these youths in the juvenile justice system.


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