Counselling Children and Families with
Complex Needs: Building Resilience
Across Cultures and Contexts
CCPA, Halifax, 2013
Michael Ungar, Ph.D.
Killam Professor,
School of Social Work, Dalhousie University
@MichaelUngarPhD
www.michaelungar.com
www.cyccnetwork.org
www.resilienceresearch.org
High Well-being
Low “Disorder”
High “Disorder”
Low Well-being
Hidden Resilience
Actual
Expected
Acute Stressor/trauma
‘Hidden Resilience’
Chronic Stressors
Time
Three Definitions
Strengths are population-wide internal and
external assets
Associated with prosocial behaviour and outcomes
A ‘thin description’ of success: lacks context
Resilience is positive outcomes/strengths
shown under adversity
Context sensitive
Hidden resilience is socially marginalized
adaptation in stressful environments where
resources are few or solutions devalued
Five things we know about Resilience:
#1-For the most disadvantaged
children, facilitative environments (like
good schools and safe streets) can be
more influential to the processes
associated with resilience than
individual factors (like personality or
self-esteem)
“Nurture trumps nature”
The challenge is to know which protective
factor is best suited to which type of
problem for which person in which context
2008 British Columbia Adolescent Health Survey
Five things we know about Resilience:
#2-The environments that are most
facilitative of resilience are those that
help individuals, families, and
communities to navigate to the
resources that are the most meaningful
to them
Five things we know about Resilience:
#3-The greater a child’s exposure to
adversity, the more likely the child is to
benefit from protective factors (like a
mentor or extra-curricular activities)
Differential impact
Examples: Conduct disorder, obesity,
demobilizing gang members
Five things we know about Resilience:
#4-An adaptive coping strategy that
works well at one point in time may
have long-term negative consequences.
Five things we know about Resilience:
#5-Culture and context matter.
Seven Resilience Resources
cultural
adherence
relationships
cohesion
access to
material
resources
identity
power &
control
social justice
Resilience is…
In the context of exposure to significant
adversity, resilience is both the capacity of
individuals to navigate their way to the
psychological, social, cultural, and physical
resources that sustain their well being, and
their capacity individually and collectively to
negotiate for these resources to be
provided and experienced in culturally
meaningful ways.
A Social Ecological Approach
(S.E.A.) to Counseling
S.E.A. is a model of clinical intervention
that integrates case management and
advocacy into direct practice with
individuals and families
S.E.A. nurtures people’s abilities to
navigate towards, and negotiate for,
the health promoting resources that are
meaningful to them
S.E.A.:
Broadens the scope of clinical practice
for counselors working from other
approaches (CBT; Solution-focused
Therapy; EFT; FFT; Narrative Therapy,
etc.)
Focuses on individual, relational and
social determinants of health (mental
and physical)
Case Illustration: Brian
Resources
Individuals,
Families and
Communities
Context
Culture
Seven Resources
Meaning
Navigation and Negotiation
© Michael Ungar, Ph.D.
A Social Ecological Approach (S.E.A.) to Counseling
Navigation
Resources
Individuals,
Families and
Communities
Context
Culture
Seven Resources
Meaning
Negotiation
© Michael Ungar, Ph.D.
Theory of Change
People living in challenging contexts
change when their natural supports,
programs and interventions, and social
policies help them:
Navigate effectively
Negotiate effectively
Find resources that are culturally and
contextually meaningful
-.03
-.21*
.18*
-.14
.13
Service Use
Experience
Individual Risk
Contextual Risk
-.17*
.53*
Life time
Service Use
Accumulation
.33*
-.38*
.07
-.30*
Resilience
.37*
Functional
Outcomes
Service Use
Experience
.33*
Resilience
Functional
Outcomes
.37*
Help People
Navigate
External Resources
Cultural spaces, diverse
curriculum, etc.
Mentors, teachers,
extended family,
etc.
relationships
Opportunities to
use talents,
experience
respect, etc.
cultural
adherence
cohesion
access to
material
resources
identity
Opportunities to
participate, make a
contribution, etc.
Experiences at
School, Religious
Institutions, etc.
power &
control
Employment,
housing,
clothes, etc.
social justice
Laws, antidiscrimination
efforts, etc.
Internal Resources
Cultural identification,
cultural practices
Quality of
attachment to
peers and
caregivers
Self-worth, selfesteem,
assessment of
strengths
relationships
cultural
adherence
cohesion
access to
material
resources
identity
Attribution style
(internality/external
ity), efficacy
Sense of engagement
with others, attitudes
towards belonging,
spirituality
power &
control
Awareness of
resources such
as educational
opportunities
and health care
social justice
Knowledge and
experience of one’s
rights
Help People
Negotiate
Thank you!
Michael Ungar, Ph.D.
Killam Professor,
School of Social Work, Dalhousie University
@MichaelUngarPhD
www.michaelungar.com
www.cyccnetwork.org
www.resilienceresearch.org
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Building Resilience Across Contexts and Cultures