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A cohesive identity plays a key role in mental health and well-being. Yet, few studies involving identity have been intervention studies, and few intervention studies have included identity-related variables. In this article, we speculate about why this might be so. We argue that intervention research with young people will be more informative when variables tapping key developmental processes and outcomes such as identity cohesion, style, distress, and turning points are included. Such research can (a) promote positive identity development as an important aim, (b) illuminate processes of identity-related change, and (c) add knowledge about for whom interventions work and why they work, through identity’s mediating or moderating effects. We argue that these integrative steps will make treatment and prevention interventions for young people more effective and potent.


Originally published in Identity: An International Journal of Theory and Research. 2008. Volume 8. Issue 2. Pages 173-182.