Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Clinical Psychology

First Advisor

Jean Rhodes

Second Advisor

Carla Herrera

Third Advisor

Alice Carter


Youth who are referred to youth mentoring programs often face mental health, behavioral, social and academic struggles that can affect program outcomes. Although researchers have acknowledged the role of individual and environmental risks on relationship effectiveness, the impact of youth presenting problems has not been investigated consistently. In this study, I drew on a large-scale evaluation of 30 mentoring programs (n = 1,845 youth participants, 54.9% females, mean age = 12.3) to create profiles of mentees based on their patterns of presenting problems. Latent profile analyses using four indices of presenting problems—academic challenges, behavioral challenges, mental health challenges, and social challenges—showed that a three-profile solution best fit the data. These three profiles were marked by varying intensities of overall presenting problems and were labeled High (high level of symptoms across domains), Moderate (moderate level of symptoms across domains) and Low (low level of symptoms across domains). Results showed that female and White mentees were more likely to be in the High profile. Furthermore, youth in the High profile experienced more environmental stressors. ANOVA results showed that at a one-year follow-up, youth in the High profile continued to have higher levels of emotional symptoms, conduct problems and peer problems than their counterparts. However, results from paired sample t-tests indicated that youth in all three profiles showed a significant decrease in depressive symptoms, emotional symptoms, and conduct problems, as well as a significant increase in self-worth at the one-year follow up. The magnitude of change was largest in the High profile (d = 0.36) followed by the Moderate profile (d = 0.25), and lastly the Low profile (d = 0.12). The results highlight the variability of effectiveness in youth mentoring programs at different levels of initial presenting problems, with youth presenting more severe initial problems having larger potential for improvement. Implications for mentoring programs, including adopting a targeted approach to match risk levels with appropriate mentoring interventions will be discussed.


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