Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT)


Occupational Therapy

First Advisor

Nicole Harris

Second Advisor

Kelly Dornbier


Adolescent; Homeless Youth; Mental Health


Background: According to the United States Department of Education (2017), for the 2016-2017 school year, there was an estimated 1,924 students enrolled in public schools in Wyoming experiencing homelessness, with an estimated 295 of these students unaccompanied by a family member or guardian. Homeless youth comprise one of the most vulnerable and medically underserved populations in the United States (Ammerman et al., 2004) and are also substantially more likely to have mental health concerns as a result of their past traumatic experiences (Davies & Allen, 2017). Homeless youth typically develop identities and habits that enable them to negotiate and survive the culture of street or shelter living, which limits opportunities to develop life skills that are conventionally learned during this stage of life (Helfrich, Aviles, Badiani, Walens & Sabol, 2006). Considering the rates of victimization within this population, utilizing a Trauma-Informed Care (TIC) approach to intervention is indicated (Ammerman et al., 2004; Davies & Allen, 2017; Helfrich et al., 2006; Kidd et al., 2015). The Person Environment Occupation (PEO) model addresses the manner in which each of the three domains of the model effect occupational performance and interact with the other domains. A primary strength in using the PEO to guide practice in this area is the emphasis placed on the importance of the impact of the environment (Baptiste, 2017). Research demonstrates that occupational therapists are skilled in addressing life skills in the homeless youth population utilizing an approach of TIC (Helfrich et al., 2006; Thomas, Gray & McGinty, 2011). Additionally, the needs, issues, and barriers faced by this population are well within the scope of occupational therapy practice as defined by the American Occupational Therapy Association (2014) in the Occupational Therapy Practice Framework: Domain and Process 3rd Edition (OTPF).

Purpose: The purpose of this scholarly project is to develop a manualized intervention program utilizing TIC in conjunction with the OTPF to provide life skills intervention for youth who have experienced homelessness in Casper, Wyoming. The developers of the program partnered with a community organization in Casper, Wyoming who are in the process of opening a supported living environment that will house homeless youth. It is anticipated that the designed program will be implemented in this facility.

Methods: The developers of the program reviewed current literature regarding supported living environments, occupational therapy life skills intervention, and the typical needs of youth who have experienced homelessness. From information gathered in the literature review relating to the needs of the population, a bi-weekly, twelve-week intervention program to address life skills development was constructed.

Conclusion: The life skills program titled, Life Skills Program for Youth who have Experienced Homelessness was designed to be implemented within the youth population to be housed by the supported living organization in Casper, Wyoming, by occupational therapy practitioners or future occupational therapy students.