Andrea Breen

Andrea Breen, Associate Professor, FRHD
Associate Professor, FRHD
Phone number: 
519-824-4120 x53967
Macdonald Stewart Hall, Room 328

Research Interests: Family relationships and well-being, young carers, dog-human relationships in families, narrative identity development, narrative and de-colonizing research methodologies

Area: Family Relations and Human Development

Description of Research: 

My current research projects emphasize family relationships and the interconnectedness of well-being among family members. I am Principal Investigator for the SSHRC-funded project, Young Carers Coming of Age: Transitions in the Context of the Caregiving Relationship, which examines relationships and transitions for parents living with chronic illnesses and the teen children who assist with their care. In 2019-2020, my students, collaborators and I are launching a new research group that will focus on dogs, family relationships and the interconnectedness of well-being among human and non-human family members.

I also have a strong interest in the area of narrative identity development--how we use stories to construct identity and how those stories are shaped by larger cultural narratives. My research has focused on relations between identity processes and well-being, with an emphasis on identity development through interaction with stories encountered through books, film and other media. My graduate students most recent projects have focused on identity development and resistance to dominant master narratives that marginalize racialized young adults.

My work also includes a focus on narrative, relational and de-colonizing research methodologies. Along with Shawn Wilson and Lindsay DuPré, I am co-editor of the forthcoming book, Research and Reconciliation: Unsettling Ways of Knowing through Indigenous Relationships(Forthcoming, Canadian Scholars Press). Other projects currently underway include several collaborative community-based program evaluation projects focusing on the impacts of digital literacy, filmmaking and health initiatives with First Nations, Métis and Inuit Communities.

I completed my Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology and Education at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto. I hold a Masters degree in Risk and Prevention from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a Bachelor of Education from McGill University. I spent several years working in the area of youth mental health and violence prevention in school, detention and community settings and my research is informed by my experiences working with youth and families in these systems. 

Accepting graduate students:

Fall 2019: Yes

Dr. Andrea Breen's research focuses on the development of identity through story-telling and implications for well-being, resilience and social change. Her research is informed by her applied experiences, which have included leading content development for a parenting app, developing a literacy program in youth detention settings, and several years working at a Children's Mental Health Centre, where she led the development of violence prevention programs. Current research projects are focused on storytelling and resilience with Indigenous youth, Young Carers experiences in postsecondary settings, and the inflence of stories encountered through books, movies, and music on the development of self and identity. Dr. Breen completed her Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology and Education at OISE/UT. She also holds a Masters degree in Risk and Prevention from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a Bachelor of Education from McGill University. 

Areguy, F., Mock, S., Breen, A.V., Van Rhijn, T. & Wilson, K. (Forthcoming). Communal orientation, benefit-finding and coping among young carers. Journal of Child and Youth Services. 


Breen, A.V. McLean, K.C., Cairney, K. & McAdams, D. P. (2017). Movies, books and identity: Exploring the narrative ecology of the self. Qualitative Psychology, 4(3), 243-259. 


Breen, A. V. & McLean, K. C. (2017). The intersection of personal and master narratives: Is redemption for everyone? In B. Schiff, E., McKim, & S. Patron (Eds.), Life and Narrative: The Risks and Responsibilities of Storying Experience (pp. 197-213). Oxford University Press.


Breen, A.V., Twigger, K., Duvieusart-Dery, C., Boulé, J., Borgo, A., et al. (2018). We learn by doing: Teaching and learning Knowledge Translation skills at the graduate level. The Canadian Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 9 (1)


McLean, K. C. & Breen, A. V. (2016). Selves in a world of stories during emerging adulthood. In J. Arnett (Ed.), Oxford Handbook of Emerging Adulthood (385-420). New York: Oxford University Press.


S. Wilson, A. V. Breen & L. DuPré (Eds.). (Forthcoming). Research and Reconciliation:Unsettling Ways of Knowing through Indigenous Relationships. Canadian Scholars Press.