Rebuilding lives and identities: The role of place in recovery among persons with complex needs

Bikki Tran Smith, Deborah K. Padgett, Mimi Choy-Brown, Benjamin F. Henwood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Photo-elicitation interviews (PEIs) were conducted to explore the role of place in recovery - specifically, narrative identity reconstruction - among persons with complex needs. PEIs with 17 formerly homeless adults with co-occurring disorders in New York City produced 243 photos. Content analysis of photos revealed three categories - apartment, neighborhood and people. Two narrative themes - having my own and civic identity - were mapped onto the apartment and neighborhood categories, respectively. Three additional cross-categorical narrative themes were identified: (re)negotiating relationships and boundaries, moving beyond old identities and future possibilities. Housing was central across themes. Understanding of recovery is enhanced when viewed through participant-controlled visual methods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)109-117
Number of pages9
JournalHealth and Place
StatePublished - May 1 2015


  • Mental health recovery and complex needs
  • Narrative identity reconstruction
  • Person-environment interaction
  • Photo-elicitation interviews
  • Space and place

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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