Feylyn Lewis

'Who am I?': An exploration of the identity development of young adult carers in the United Kingdom and the United States

Supervisor(s): Feylyn Lewis, Doctoral researcherSaul Becker and Harriet Clarke

Young adult carers may find that their opportunities to explore education, work, relationships, and the other diverse identities are restricted as a result of the demands of their caring activities; conversely, young adult carers may also report positive outcomes upon their identity development. In addition, the transition to adulthood may also have important implications for the delivery of service care.

Because children and young adults who provide unpaid care are not officially recognized in American policy and are oft-overlooked in research, young adult carers are left without support. This is in contrast to the United Kingdom, in which there are a growing number of supportive organizations. Both countries, however, face a gap in knowledge with regards to the influence caring activities may have upon identity during young adulthood. 

Thus, this research seeks to understand how the experience of providing care may influence the identity development of young adult carers living in the United Kingdom and United States. The research also explores the ways young adult carers may be supported through their transition into adulthood.

The study aims to make recommendations for more informed advocacy in supporting young adult carers in both countries. This comparative research utilizes 55 qualitative semi-structured interviews from young adult carers in the United Kingdom and United States. A thematic analysis is used to highlight themes connected to identity development.

Profile

A native of Hendersonville, Tennessee and graduate of Vanderbilt University, she is a nationally certified mental health counselor. Her doctoral research focuses on the identity development of young adult caregivers living in the United Kingdom and United States. Young adult caregivers are individuals aged 18-25 years old who provide unpaid care, support, and assistance to a family member with a health condition. During Feylyn’s childhood, her older brother was a caregiver for her and their mother who has a physical disability. This experience motivated Feylyn to pursue research and advocacy work for younger age caregivers; thus, she came to England from the United States in 2013 to further study under the expertise of Professor Saul Becker, world-renowned researcher on young people with caring responsibilities. While completing her doctoral research, Feylyn remains committed to raising the profile of child and young adult caregivers through blog writing, podcasts, and speaking engagements in both the United States and England.

Qualifications

  • MA, Community Counselling, Regent University 2013
  • BA, English and Psychology, Vanderbilt University 2009

Research interests

  • Child and young adult carers/caregivers
  • Adolescent mental health

Professional membership

  • Social Policy Association
  • Society for the Study of Emerging Adulthood
  • American Psychological Association

Publications

'Hear me, see me', Voices of identity from caregivers during emerging adulthood'. Poster presented on October 14-16 2015 at the Society for the Study of Emerging Adulthood 7th Annual Conference in Miami, Florida, United States.

'From Child to Young Adult Carer: Identities and Transitions', Paper presented on September 3-6 2015 at the 6th annual International Carers Conference in Gothenburg, Sweden.

'What about us?' Young caring in New Zealand and the United States. Symposium co-presented on September 3-6 2015 at the 6th International Carers Conference in Gothenburg, Sweden.

'Who am I?' Exploring the identity development of the young adult carer' Poster presented on 6-9 August 2015 at the American Psychological Association Annual Convention in Toronto, Canada.

'Comparative social policy research and its potential to contribute to policy change', Symposium presented on 6-8 July 2015 at the annual Social Policy Association Conference in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

'Exploring the identity development of the young adult carer and its implications for therapeutic practice', Poster presented on 15-16 May 2015 at the annual British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy Research Conference in Ljubljana, Slovenia.

'Young adult carers: The stigma to speak out, seek out and be seen', Poster presented on 14 December 2014 at the Economic and Social Research Council seminar, 'Stigma and Youth Mental Health' in Nottingham, England.

'International and comparative social policy studies', Symposium presented on 6 November 2014 at the Economic and Social Research Council Festival of Social Science in Birmingham, England.

'Young adult carers and the ethics of care', Paper presented on 22 October 2014 at the Roles Sexuality and Gender Forum in Birmingham, England.

Contact

Email: FML402@bham.ac.uk

Social media : @FeylynLewis