College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences Theses and Dissertations

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Resilience, Gay Youth, Relationships, Relational Cultural Theory, Qualitative Research


This dissertation project adopted a phenomenological and qualitative methodology in order to conduct a secondary cross-case analysis of a subset (N = 20) of previously transcribed interviews with same-sex attracted (SSA) male youth (i.e., self-identified gay, bisexual, and questioning (GBQ) male youth in order to explore and learn about growth-promoting relationships in their lives. The theoretical lens adopted for this effort was Relational-Cultural Theory (RCT). In constructing this study, the author was interested in learning whether the five key conceptual features of growth- promoting relationships, as posited by proponents of RCT (i.e., supported vulnerability, mutual empathic involvement, relational awareness, relational confidence, and mutual empowerment), manifested in the relational experiences of study participants. Within-case analysis provided support for these five key conceptual pieces. Subsequent cross cases analysis revealed four dominant themes: relational connection, relational disconnection, gender socialization, and context and culture. Results from the present effort argue that the study of resilience would benefit greatly from a re-conceptualization of resilience as a relational phenomenon. The findings further ague for the use of RCT, a relational perspective on psychological health, for examining the interpersonal relationships of SSA youth, in general, and SSA male youth, in particular and the effects of their relationships on overall functioning. Limitation, strengths, and clinical implications are considered.