Transforming the Realities of Homeless Youth: Considerations for the Design and Implementation of an Adlerian Art Therapy Program

This master‘s project delves into the research surrounding unaccompanied homeless youth specifically the etiology of youth homelessness as viewed through the lenses of attachment theory, neuroscience, and Adlerian theory. The mental health needs of this population are significant and are often exacerbated by complex trauma and substance abuse. Gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgender and questioning youth as well as ethnic minorities are disproportionately represented among homeless youth. Research indicates traditional, dyadic, dialogical therapeutic models do not meet the needs of this population in part due to the peer-orientation of youth and a distrust of adults due to histories of conflict, neglect and abuse. A comprehensive literature review is presented, and a trauma-sensitive art therapy program rooted in Adlerian theory of encouragement is proposed to overcome barriers to accessing treatment and meet the mental health needs of homeless youth.
Keywords: homeless youth, attachment theory, Adlerian theory, complex trauma, substance abuse, art therapy.

Jessica L. Metzger
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