Journal of Behavioral Health and Psychology. 2012; 1(1):(11-318)


Adolescent autonomy development: what we learned from a case study with an Immigrant adolescent

Ling Shi

Abstract

Autonomy is an important aspect of adolescent‟s psychosocial development. This case study employed the Beyers‟ model to examine a second-generation immigrant‟s perception and experience of autonomy from four dimensions: Connectedness, Separation, Agency, and Detachment. An interview was conducted using a semi-structured questionnaire with a 17-year-old girl who moved to the US at 3 years of age. The informant demonstrated a high Connectedness and low Detachment with her parents, characterized by a close parent–adolescent relationship, her high trust and dependency on her parents, respecting her parents‟ authority and no open conflict with her parents. She had achieved a certain, but not high, degree of Separation, mainly manifested as the establishment of a private sense of self. She had also obtained some degree of Agency, reflecting as that she had developed a plan for her future (although her parents‟ opinion influenced her plan to a great extent) and made efforts towards her goal. The case study indicates that different cultural backgrounds result in diversity in parental authority and adolescent autonomy. There is a need to further understand adolescent‟s autonomy development from their own perspectives. Educators and healthcare providers need to provide adolescent-centered, family-involved, and culturally competent services.

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