Identity Development Evolution and Sharing (IDEAS)
My initial work outlined a theoretical framework for conceptualizing addiction-as-occupation, emphasizing how addictive disorders shape people’s roles, relationships, environments, temporal structure, and meaning-making processes. Two qualitative studies – an initial exploratory study and a follow-up grounded theory study – bolstered the relevance of this conceptual model as it pertains to lived experiences. I completed a systematic review and several studies of metacognition that further characterized addiction as contributing to occupational deprivation, poor metacognitive mastery, and as responsive to occupation-based interventions in the areas of social participation and leisure. The most critical take-home message from this body of research was that people in early recovery experience extreme occupational deficit and that providing new occupations to facilitate meaning-making and community engagement alongside other evidence-based interventions was a promising means of enhancing outcomes.I have directed my line of research toward creating and testing occupation-based interventions not only to support meaningful life participation for addiction recovery, but also to support meaningful participation as a preventative measure for marginalized people at risk of developing substance use disorders and/or other life challenges related to social dislocation and occupational injustice. These include a variety of pilot studies of our “Theatre Intervention Project” (TIP), and the creation of ‘Identity Exploration & Sharing’ (IDEAS) – a model of telling true stories of marginalized populations through theatre to prompt healthcare providers and community members to explore and confront their implicit biases. Currently we are implementing TIP with girls with a history of trauma and adverse childhood experiences, ages 8-18, in 5 Boys & Girls Clubs across Indianapolis to promote health and wellness, funded by a $750,000 community foundation grant. TIP is unique in the degree to which it draws on current research in neuro and behavioral economics, metacognition and its relationship to function, and impacts of occupation-based intervention on neurogenesis, plasticity, and recovery of personal meaning, social participation, and other wellness-related outcomes.