Fostering Resilient Outcomes

In thinking about resiliency in clinical practice, most seek to understand the special quality about an individual that helps him overcome adversity.  In a simplistic version of  this inquiry, the professional may look at a person’s characteristics to ascertain what makes him stronger than another, as if resiliency is located within a person rather than how he is affected by his lived experience.  In an attempt to complicate the construct of resilience, by using a phenomenological lens, I believe that interactions between a person and a supportive environment, to include other people, increase the likelihood of him having resilient outcomes.  Luthar and Cicchetti (2000) state that

Resilience is a dynamic process wherein individuals display positive adaptation despite experiences of significant adversity or trauma. It is a two-dimensional construct that implies exposure to adversity and the manifestation of positive adjustment outcomes p. 858

So, resilience is not a characteristic within a person, but rather, a process that happens between the whole person, mind and body included, and his environment; a person has an experience that may be traumatic and he adjusts positively.

As a professional working with children and youth who struggle with past and present adversities, the phenomenological perspective of resilience changes the focus from qualities within a person to the lived experience of the person.  Below I summarize practices that professionals can use to foster resilient outcomes for children and youth in foster care placements who have experienced adversity.



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