Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT)


Occupational Therapy

First Advisor

Breann Lamborn


Adolescent; Child; Mentors; Occupational Therapy; Vulnerable Populations


Research into childhood development has shown that the impacts of a traumatic life event can have adverse effects on the development and future success of a child. Traumatic live events can be defined as any experience that varies from a typical pattern of childhood development, for example divorce, death of a parent, addiction concerns, domestic violence, or incarceration of a parent. Often a positive role model cannot be found in these children’s lives, keeping them from reaching success later in life. Researchers have studied the impact of a mentoring relationship on children from disadvantaged homes and have found the mentoring relationship to be a pivotal point in development, especially in the transition from childhood to adulthood (Ahrens, DuBois, Richardson, Fan, and Lozano, 2007).

Given the importance of a mentor, it is imperative for a child to have a positive adult in their life during transitional phases. In cases of children from disadvantaged homes, an occupational therapist can often be this positive adult. Given the nature of the profession, occupational therapists are at a particular advantage to impact these children at a young age. Occupational therapists naturally look at a person in a holistic manner, allowing them to be more inherently involved in a child’s life. Although an occupational therapist may seem like the natural profession to fill this role, not all occupational therapists find themselves assuming on mentoring roles with this population. What characteristics are needed in those therapists who become a mentor?

The focus of this qualitative study was to identify critical mentor characteristics through the experiences and opinions of occupational therapists who have worked with children from disadvantaged homes. The study explored the degree to which occupational therapists can work to mentor these children and the mentoring roles that occupational therapists are currently experiencing with their child clients. The study was constructed around the Psychosocial Development Theory created by Erik Erikson, and was intended as an exploratory study that will provide a baseline for future research for occupational therapists to actively serve as mentors for children from disadvantaged homes.