Photo Voice Project by OT Graduate Student Helps Pregnant, Parenting Teens

photo of Truesdell and Helton

­A graduate student in Eastern Kentucky University’s Occupational Therapy program is helping pregnant and parenting teens through the use of photography and journaling.

Patricia Truesdell, who will graduate this year from EKU’s nationally ranked master’s degree program in OT, worked with Emily Helton, a 2008 EKU OT graduate.

“Our shared interest in community-based practice evolved into a pilot project to design and implement an occupational therapy program in a non-traditional setting,” Truesdell said.  “Photo Voice is a participatory research method used to empower marginalized individuals and promote awareness, dialogue and social change through the use of pictures and journaling.

“We selected the Florence Crittenton Home (in Lexington) as Emily (a former FCH employee) and the department fieldwork coordinator, Elaine Fehringer, have an established relationship with the home director. Professor Fehringer graciously agreed to serve as a co-facilitator and supervisor during the project.”

The Crittenton Home, said Truesdell, “is designed to help pregnant and parenting teens increase their self-control, adaptive coping, empowerment and independence.” Many residents have been victims of violent sexual and physical abuse, as well as “unimaginable” neglect.

To participate in the PhotoVoice project, the FCH residents were provided point-and-shoot cameras and a journal to answer the questions “What are the perceived barriers in your life?” and “What are your hopes and dreams?”

“My role in the project was to secure funding for supplies and an art gallery for a venue, promote the event during the gallery hop, and co-facilitate the photography and journaling sessions,” Truesdell said.

Pending IRB approval, Fehringer, Truesdell and Helton will collect and analyze data to evaluate the effectiveness of engaging teen moms in the PhotoVoice process and using participatory action research to plan and design future occupational therapy programming in a non-traditional setting.”

While a student at EKU, Helton received the first Becky Pelfrey Scholarship as a student with potential to become an excellent therapist.

“The LexArts Gallery Hop was last Friday (June 15),” Truesdell noted, “and we received overwhelmingly positive feedback. This experience has enhanced my interest in community-based practice and my desire to further my OT studies in a doctoral program.”

The artists, along with invited guests, participated in a private showing Wednesday evening, June 20.

EKU’s master’s degree program in Occupational Therapy has been ranked 24th nationally by U.S. News Media Group. The University has been approved to offer a doctoral degree in Occupational Therapy, with classes beginning in Spring 2013. For more information about EKU’s OT program, visit

Published on June 21, 2012

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