Zach Glending, Christine Farmer, Jessalyn Crossman, Jacob DeBellis, Stephanie Rodriguez



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A Behavioral Activation Program is implemented and evaluated at a homeless shelter. Behavioral Activation, which is based on operant conditioning, refers to “...a therapeutic process that emphasizes structured attempts at engendering increases in overt behaviors that are likely to bring [the person] into contact with reinforcing environmental contingencies and produce corresponding improvements in thoughts, mood, and overall quality of life” (Hopko et al., 2003, p. 700). Guided by the Psycho-Ecological Systems Model (Reeb & Folger, 2013), this interdisciplinary research project utilizes the participatory community action research strategy (Reeb, 2006), the pedagogical technique of service-learning (Reeb, 2010), and multidimensional assessment. Hypotheses are as follows: (1) Outcomes (e.g., employment and recidivism rates) will be superior for men participating in Behavioral Activation, relative to outcomes of shelter guests prior to project implementation. (2) For men participating in Behavioral Activation, there will be improvements in psychosocial functioning (quality of life, hope, self-efficacy for coping, self-esteem, depressed mood, learned helplessness, anxiety, empowerment, social alienation, sense of purpose or meaning, social stigma concerns, job motivation, and inclinations for illegal behavior and substance use), and changes on these variables will predict long-term outcomes. (3) Over time, the shelter’s social climate will be perceived as increasingly more positive by shelter guests and staff. (4) Service-learning students (undergraduate and graduate) who assist with the project will show improvements in civic-related attitudes/beliefs. Behavioral activities include a mix of activities aimed at the enhancement of: (a) empowerment or self-sufficiency (e.g., GED preparation, computer training, job preparation); (b) coping (e.g., stress management, prevention programs); and (c) mood, quality of life, and social skills (e.g., game night). This project, which is supported in part by external funding, received full IRB approval at the University of Dayton, and was implemented in August of 2013.

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Project Designation

Independent Research

Primary Advisor

Roger N. Reeb

Primary Advisor's Department



Stander Symposium project


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Behavioral Activation in a Homeless Shelter: An Example of Engaged Scholarship