Andrea Breen

Andrea Breen, Associate Professor, FRHD
Associate Professor, FRHD
Department of Family Relations & Applied Nutrition
Phone number: 
519-824-4120 x53967
MacDonald Institute (MINS), 233

Research Interests: Narrative, identity and well-being; Early experiences of caregiving and the transition to adulthood; Interconnections of risk and well-being in human-canine relationships; De-colonizing research methodologies

Area: Family Relations and Human Development

Description of Research: 

I am Principal Investigator for the SSHRC-funded project, Young Carers Coming of Age: Transitions in the Context of the Caregiving Relationship, which examines family relationships and the transition to adulthood in families where young people are care providers ("young carers"). I am also Co-Director of FIDO (Families Interacting with DOgs) along with Dr. Lynda Ashbourne. This new research group in Family Relations and Human Development focuses on the interconnectedness of mental health and well-being among humans and dogs within families. We are actively recruiting students for this project.

Much of my research has focused on narrative identity development--how we use stories to construct identity and how those stories are shaped by larger cultural narratives. My research has emphasized relations between identity processes, mental health and well-being, with an emphasis on identity development through interaction with stories. My graduate students' most recent projects have focused on narrative identity development and resistance to dominant master narratives that marginalize racialized young adults.

My work also includes a focus on narrative and de-colonizing research methodologies. Along with Shawn Wilson and Lindsay DuPré, I am co-editor of the book, Research and Reconciliation: Unsettling Ways of Knowing through Indigenous Relationships (Canadian Scholars Press). I am also working with several collaborative community-based projects that focus on storytelling, social connectedness and well-being 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. My interests and hobbies include dog rescue and psychological rehabilitation and I am currently working towards a diploma in Canine Psychology and Behaviour as well as certification as a dog trainer.

Accepting graduate students:

Fall 2020: Yes. Accepting students.

Breen, A. V., Scott, C., & McLean, K. C. (2019). The “stuff” of narrative identity: Touring big and small stories in emerging adults’ dorm rooms. Qualitative Psychology. Advance online publication.


Wilson, S, Breen, A.V., & Du Pré, L. (2019). Research and Reconciliation: Unsettling Ways of Knowing through Indigenous Relationships. Toronto: Canadian Scholars Press. 



Areguy, F., Mock, S., Breen, A.V., Van Rhijn, T. & Wilson, K. (2019). 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.