Kandice Timmons is a 2015 graduate of the PsyD Program in Clinical Psychology at Antioch University, Santa Barbara

Dissertation Committee:

  • Salvador Treviño, Ph.D., Committee Chair
  • Karen Lehman, Ph.D., Committee Member
  • Gilbert Reyes, Ph.D., External Expert


natural disaster, Hurricane Katrina, phenomenology, dual ambiguous loss, posttraumatic growth, refugee, Brief COPE

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This qualitative phenomenological study sought to understand the “refugee” experience of displacement from an individual perspective and the impact of trauma during a natural disaster through the lens of post-traumatic growth. It views survivors of Hurricane Katrina, who were displaced and returned home, and aims to investigate what changes, if any, have occurred since their return. The literature aids in understanding the complexities of the trauma endured in the aftermath, and seeks to better understand their refugee identity, the experience of displacement, the effects of trauma, and the changes that occurred in recovery. The data was collected through the Brief COPE Inventory, interview questions and the Posttraumatic Growth Inventory; from the data analysis four themes emerged: ability to cope, understanding identity, the ambiguous loss of home and perception of growth. During the participants’ displacement and return home there was reported dual ambiguous loss was felt deeply by the participants and many coped with self-distracting behaviors. All participants experienced some growth since Hurricane Katrina occurred. Those with adverse experiences reported the most growth, most participants observed moderate growth, there was little growth for one participant, and two participants reported no change as a result of Hurricane Katrina. The experiences of displacement, loss, return and growth were witnessed in their identity and connection to home. The return home for most made sense because the participants were not ready to give up on the unique collective culture of New Orleans. The electronic version of the dissertation is accessible at Ohiolink ETD center


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