Date of Award

May 2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Susan D. Lima

Committee Members

Susan D. Lima, Katie E. Mosack, Jonathan W. Kanter, Robyn C. Ridley, David H. Rosmarin


A phenomenological approach was used to explore the lived experience of Orthodox Jewish professionals (mental health practitioner, high school rabbi, mentor) trying to break the resistance and connect with the at-risk youth in the Orthodox Jewish community (OJC). OJC at-risk youth was defined as a) youth experiencing life disruptions (in family, school, community, and/or religious contexts) related to psychological issues and reflected in externalizing (e.g., "delinquent") or internalizing (e.g., depression) behaviors, and b) excluding a youth experiencing life disruptions due to non-compliance with parental and societal expectations (i.e., religious obligations) when devoid of a significant psychological component. Thirteen textural narratives illustrate the culture-specific manifestations of successful and unsuccessful attempts to connect with at-risk youth. In addition, four structural narratives offer insights into the essential components of the connection phenomenon, including, 1) Being non-judgmental, 2) Not "taking it personally," 3) "Being real," and 4) Focusing on well-being, not religion. The study concludes with reflections on the findings together with communal recommendations to help the OJC address its at-risk youth phenomenon.

Included in

Psychology Commons