Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


This mixed methods study explores psychological resiliency, social support and community development in adolescent girls who completed an adventure program at sea (Tall Ship Semester for Girls or TSSG). Individuals from two graduating classes, 2005 and 2006, responded to an online Resiliency Scale survey and participated in an in-person interview. Thirteen individuals responded to the survey (2005 n=7, 2006 n=6). Thirteen individuals participated in an interview (2005 n=7, 2006 n=6). Eight participants completed both survey and interview. Five participants completed only the survey and five completed only the interview. Participants in the study are female adolescents, ages 17 years to 20 years old. This study addressed the following questions: (1) Do the girls perceive themselves as more resilient after TSSG?; (2) How do they perceive the support they received while at sea and from whom did they gain support?; (3) What did they learn from their experiences with the shipboard community?; and (4) How have they changed as a result of their interactions with that community? I hypothesized that, for teens, community experience can be therapeutic and living in an intensely challenging and structured community allows each student to grow in developmentally appropriate ways. Findings were divided into two categories for thematic analysis: Resilience and Challenge, and Social Support and Therapeutic Community. Themes included structure, work ethic, positive attitude, openness and genuineness, confidence, communication, responsibility, identity, and community. This study showed that TSSG has characteristics of a therapeutic community and all of its participants experienced positive change and improved resilience as a result.


iii, 126 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2007. Includes bibliographical references (leaves 107-109).