Counseling Department


Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Edgar Barker

Primary Subject Area

Psychology, Clinical


Adaptation, Adjustment, Adolescent, Hurricane Katrina


Hurricane Katrina ripped through Louisiana and the Gulf Coast in late August 2005. This devastating storm left thousands of people homeless and forever changed the lives of those who lived in these areas. Adolescents in the storm-impacted areas continue to be affected by life events brought about by this natural catastrophe. Many adolescents moved to another parish or state and started a new school, and many students reported attending multiple schools. Adolescents lost possessions and friends, and many continue to experience grief and loss issues related to Hurricane Katrina. Family job loss and associated financial hardship added to the already complex lives of adolescents who were navigating their way through high school and dealing with day-to-day teenager stress. This paper reviews the research on natural disasters and the impact of Hurricane Katrina on adolescent psychological adjustment and adaptation. The results from this study indicate there is a statistically significant correlation between hurricane impact and mental health. The data shows that the students who experienced the most mental health issues such as Generalized Anxiety Disorders, post traumatic stress disorder, major depression, and eating disorder were in the evacuation group who returned to St. Tammany parish within 30 days after the hurricane. The data indicates that students relied primarily on parents and friends to help them adapt and adjust after the hurricane. This dissertation will help those who work with adolescents to better understand how they adapt and adjust after a major natural disaster.