Canada Research Chair in Rehabilitation of Vulnerable Adolescent Girls

Chair Holder : Nadine Lanctôt

The pathways of certain adolescents and young women are marked by a host of events and problems that are likely to alter the quality of their social adjustment and their transition to adulthood. Vulnerable adolescent girls are particularly at risk, in early adulthood, of finding themselves in situations where single parenthood, poverty, low educational attainment, violence in intimate relationships, social isolation and psychological distress are juxtaposed. Our research, in conjunction with other recent studies, clearly demonstrates the need to design rehabilitation programs that are sensitive to the characteristics of vulnerable adolescent girls and young women. Having established these facts, it is now important to go beyond gender comparisons in favour of a more in-depth, articulated and nuanced understanding of the different profiles, pathways and needs of female clients receiving rehabilitation services.
It is in this perspective that Nadine Lanctôt’s Chair will contribute to the development of promising practices in the field of rehabilitation of vulnerable adolescent girls and young women aged 12 to 25. The research program is structured around three axes.

Axis 1: Heterogeneous Profiles and Backgrounds of Vulnerable Young Women.
Empirical studies have focused extensively on gender differences. Although indispensable, these studies treat the female clientele as a whole, as a homogeneous whole, thus masking the full heterogeneity of the profiles and pathways of vulnerable young women. A better understanding of diverse profiles and backgrounds of vulnerable young women could inform the adaptation of rehabilitation interventions to the specific needs and abilities of this clientele, through “differentiated” interventions rather than a “universally” applied intervention.

Axis 2: Rehabilitation Needs of Vulnerable Young Women.
Based on the high prevalence of difficulties observed among vulnerable young women, the scientific literature suggests that certain intervention targets should be prioritized to meet this clientele’s needs. There is growing recognition that rehabilitation efforts must also focus on the needs, values, abilities and aspirations of individuals. In this perspective, the Axis will employ an innovative intervention model: the “Good Lives Model” (Ward and Stewart, 2003).This model is based on principles that are fundamental to providing sensitive and effective interventions for vulnerable young women.

Axis 3: Effects of Rehabilitation on the Pathways of Vulnerable Young Women.
Recent studies on the development of rehabilitation interventions now converge around a very clear recommendation: implement interventions that are recognized for their effects, while adapting the targets and context of the interventions to the capacities and needs of female clients. While programs aimed at reducing young women’s conduct disorders and delinquency are relatively effective in this regard, other difficulties persist that are not covered by these programs (e.g., depressive and anxiety symptoms).From another perspective, the research highlighted paradoxical effects of rehabilitation interventions, especially in the context of placements (numerous displacements, accumulation of relational ruptures, upheavals that aggravate traumatic symptoms, feeling of devaluation and stigmatization about the placement history). While there is consensus about these paradoxical effects, researchers have rarely addressed them head on. Considering the acute vulnerability of young women with emotional, relational and mental health problems, it becomes essential to look at rehabilitation studies from a new angle by focusing on the effects that interventions can have on their well-being, including subjective dimensions such as self-image, sense of efficacy and feeling of control over one’s life.