Purdue University Graduate School
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Bridging the Gap Between Vocational Theory and Mental Illness

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posted on 2021-05-06, 15:55 authored by Laura E JensenLaura E Jensen

This dissertation consists of two independent papers that explore the intersection of vocational theory and mental illness. Vocational theory refers to theoretical models and/or frameworks focused on work, jobs, careers, and other employment-related phenomena. Theory can advance research on any given topic in a comprehensive and organized way. Theory can also generate a comprehensive research agenda that increases the visibility of whatever topic is being studied. Currently no vocational theory exists that is designed for, and few vocational theories have been tested with, people with mental health conditions. To address this gap, this dissertation explores the utility of the Psychology of Working Theory (PWT) for people with mental illness and serious mental illness (SMI) with a theoretical paper and an empirical paper. In the first chapter, the PWT is used to demonstrate how the field of Counseling Psychology can address two gaps in the existing literature on work and SMI. In the second chapter, the PWT is then used to test predictors of work volition with a sample of community colleges students with mental illness.


Purdue Research Foundation


Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • Educational Studies

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Eric Deemer

Additional Committee Member 2

Blake Allan

Additional Committee Member 3

Rachel Ploskonka

Additional Committee Member 4

James Greenan

Additional Committee Member 5

Paul Lysaker

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