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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Adolescent Girls’ Psychosocial Experiences Following Transition out of Institutionalized Care: A Qualitative Exploration of Life at an After-Care Program in Delhi, India

  • Author(s): Srivastava, Neha
  • Advisor(s): Schilling, Robert
  • et al.

Estimates suggest that approximately one million adolescents age out of institutionalized care in India every year (Dutta, 2016). Unfortunately, little is known about their post-transition experiences, specifically within the context of after-care programs.

This study aimed to describe and understand adolescent girls’ subjective experiences of life in an after-care facility after transitioning out of institutionalized care in Delhi, India. A Qualitative approach - Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (Smith et al., 2010) - was employed to answer the central research question: What are the psychosocial experiences of adolescent girls (18-19 years old) who have recently (1-6 months ago) transitioned from institutionalized care to an after-care program in Delhi, India?


Through a process of purposive sampling, ten girls who had recently (1-6 months ago) transitioned into an after-care facility were recruited into the study. Participation required completion of an open-ended, semi-structured interview with the researcher. Participants were also given the option to engage in two additional unstructured interviews. A total of 20 interviews were included in this study.

Audio recordings of interviews were transliterated into English and analyzed by the researcher through a process of inductive, line-by-line coding. Five major themes emerged from the data: i) Developing a Sense of Self, ii) Seeking, Avoiding, and Managing Intimacy, iii) Striving to Accomplish One’s Goals, iv) Grappling with Independence: Feeling Untethered, Learning to be Self-Reliant, and v) Psychological Distress: Experiences and Treatment.

In the Discussion section, findings are situated within the context of existing literature, discussed in light of the socio-cultural setting in which they evolved, considered in relation to the psychosocial experiences of non-institutionalized adolescent girls in urban India, and interpreted in terms of Attachment Theory (Bowlby, 1958). The significance of interpersonal relationships across themes is understood as indication that the girls’ view themselves and the world in relational terms; Relational-Cultural Theory (Miller, 1976; Jordan, 2010) is drawn upon to help make sense of girls’ ongoing experiences from a relational perspective. Implications for future research, social work practice, and limitations of the study are also discussed.

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