Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work


School of Social Work

First Reader/Committee Chair

Barragan, Armando


The principal developmental task of adolescence is the formation of an individual’s identity. Through much of human history there has been an intentional design of practices that harness this developmental energy and channel it through structured experiences where the individual earns a targeted identity through certain actions. These practices continue in recognizable forms that target specific identities and fulfill the individual psychological need of identity formation and the societal need of transition into adulthood. Inherent to these identity formation experiences is the group setting, where a variety of capabilities for identity achievement exist. This research project explores what structures and interventions effectively support high performing and low performing male adolescents through these identity formation experiences. Organizations working with male adolescents which use structured experiences to support a targeted identity achievement of all participants were study sites for the project. Qualitative data was gathered through the form of interviews with staff working directly with male adolescents at these organizations. Results of the project suggest that there are common strategies that support an inclusive experience for all participants, as well as strategies specific to supporting identity achievement among low performing and high performing participants. These strategies offer the potential to improve the programmatic development of identity formation experiences for male adolescents as well as targeted interventions for male adolescence engaged in identity formation experiences.