Date of Award

Summer 8-22-2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Forensic Psychology



First Advisor

Rebecca Weiss

Second Reader

Sasha Graham

Third Advisor

Emily Haney-Caron


Despite the growing rate of adolescent girls in the criminal justice system, there has been little institutional support for empirically supported programs tailored for girls (Matthews & Hubbard, 2008). There is a similar substantial lack of culturally specific programming. Problematically, both constructs have been found to impact treatment (Bright & Jonson-Reid, 2010; Matthews & Hubbard, 2008). This qualitative study utilized grounded theory principals to investigate the impact of gender and culture on the therapeutic relationship for justice-involved youth in seven alternative-to-incarceration agencies in New York City. Elicited themes focused on both recommended strategies and continued challenges. Results indicated that while service providers considered a gender and culture match to be advantageous for therapeutic relationships, a match made it less likely that service providers would discuss the therapeutic relevance of gender or culture, particularly in cases with a culture-match. A substantial portion of service providers indicated that they treated all clients similarly, regardless of cultural background. This is inconsistent with recommended practice. However, the service providers reported far less negativity around working with girls than previous research has found. The results support the need for formal training for service providers in empirically supported strategies for working with diverse youth.



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