Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Social Work


Lyle S. Hallman Faculty of Social Work

First Advisor

Judith Levene

Advisor Role

Thesis Supervisor


Using the theoretical underpinnings of dynamical systems theory and the construct of self-organization, this study uses a multistrategy research design to explore coping and adaptive mechanisms in a group of 26 Bosnian refugees. Qualitative findings indicated that in spite of tremendous losses this group of Eastern European refugees restructured their lives in Canada in creative, unexpected, and novel ways. This study specifically focused on issues of post traumatic growth and explored exactly how refugees manage to rebuilt their lives and self-organize. Quantitative measures looked at symptoms of trauma over a 200-day period. Using the Impact of Events Scale - Revised, symptom patterns of hyperarousal, intrusion, and avoidance were recorded daily in an effort to determine rate of recovery. Findings determined that overall, participants' symptoms decreased over time with single women's symptoms decreasing more than either married men or married women. The study also determined that, as might be expected, husbands and wives tend to experience similar symptom profiles. Further, the study determined that women tend to struggle more with intrusive memories than either avoidance or hyperarousal, while men experience all three symptoms equally.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season