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‘…refers to a class of phenomena characterised by good outcomes in spite of serious threats to adaptation or development’ Source: Masten 2001. Resilience is .

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‘…refers to a class of phenomena characterised by good outcomes in spite of serious threats to adaptation or development’

Source: Masten 2001

resilience is
Resilience is
  • ‘the capacity of a system to absorb disturbance and reorganize while undergoing change so as to still retain essentially the same function, structure, identity and feedbacks’. Walker et al Resilience Thinking.
  • ‘resilience of social-ecological systems is determined by their ability to absorb disturbance, their ability for self-organisation and the capacity to learn and adapt’.19 Adgar, Resilience Alliance website at
  • (accessed 30 Mar 2009).
The capacity of an individual, community or system to adapt in order to sustain an acceptable level of function, structure, and identity.
  • Demos Resilient Nation, 2009
  • and a working definition of Community Resilience is given as:
  • “Communities and individuals harnessing local resources and expertise to help themselves in an emergency, in a way that complements the response of the emergency services.”
  • 2 Civil Protection Lexicon
strands of resilience research
Strands of Resilience Research
  • Individual attributes
  • Social factors
  • Processes and mechanisms
  • Cultural context
  • Practitioner
  • Children & young people
  • Adults (Reich et al 2010)
  • Communities
  • Resilient practices (Aumann & Hart 2009)
  • Biopsychosocial
capability and resilience beating the odds


(reference and downloadable copy: Capability and Resilience: Beating the Odds Edited by Professor Mel Bartley, published by UCL Dept Epidemiology and Public Health on behalf of the ESRC Priority Network on Capability and Resilience (2003-2007). )

4 in 10 parents of disabled children report living in unsuitable housing Source: Oldman & Beresford 2002
  • Only 8% get any services from their local services Source: CAF factsheet
  • Bringing up a disabled child costs on average three times more than non disabled childrenSource: Dobson & Middleton 1998
  • 1 in 7 families with disabled children live in debt Source: Harrison & Wolley 2004
Child well-being in the UK lower than in 20 other industrialised countriesSource: UNICEF 2007
  • Diagnosis of mental health ‘disorders’ in young people is growing in the UK – around 10% had a ‘clinically diagnosable condition’Source: CAMHS review 2008
  • Most at risk: are those children who live in families with a low household income, with no parent working, disabled children and those with low educational achievementSource: CAMHS review 2008
‘Adequate provision of health resources necessary to achieve good outcomes in spite of serious threats to adaptation or development.’

Source: Ungar2005b: 429

The kinds of things we need to make happen (e.g. events, parenting strategies, relationships, resources) to help children manage life when it’s tough. Plus ways of thinking and acting that we need ourselves if we want to make things better for children.’Source: Aumann and Hart 2009
‘Resilience is an emergent property of a hierarchically organized set of protective systems that cumulatively buffer the effects of adversity and can therefore rarely, if ever, be regarded as an intrinsic property of individuals.’Source: Roisman, Padrón et al. 2002: 1216
  • 'Resilience does not constitute an individual trait or characteristic…Resilience involves a range of processes that bring together quite diverse mechanisms…' Source: Rutter 1999: 135
for example resilient commonsense
For example, resilient commonsense


good looks

good education

ability to problem solve

decent standard of living

love and sense of belonging

great parenting

and perhaps not so obvious
And perhaps not so obvious...
  • opportunities to contribute
  • sense of purpose
  • realising or setting up a talent/healthy interest
  • a sense of self-efficacy
  • reflective self-functioning
  • one good adult role model, preferably over time
  • having a coherent biographical narrative
‘Resilience researchers’ central mission is to illuminate processes that significantly mitigate the ill effects of various adverse life conditions as well as those that exacerbate these, and thus to derive specific directions for interventions and social policies.’Source: Luther and Brown 2007:931
shift of emphasis needed
Shift of emphasis needed...

‘The risk factors and their consequences are widely known and routinely used in describing both research and programs...The sad truth is that far more is invested in research to understand the consequences of risk factors for young children and parents than in designing, testing, and taking to scale interventions that might change the all too predictable negative trajectories.’

Source: (Knitzer & Cohen 2007, p.358).

RT strategically harnesses selected evidence-informed principles and techniques
  • Can be used across contexts and by different practitioners, including parents and young people themselves
  • Designed to work with people as co-collaborators in its development
  • Is user-friendly and readily accessible – you don’t need a lengthy specialised training
  • Non-pathologising – ‘upbuilding’
bouncing back communities of practice
Bouncing Back communities of practice...
  • Parents, Practitioners, Academics, Policy Makers
  • Combining knowledge/experience to improve wellbeing
  • Exploring how the ‘resilience’ research base and RT can link with their existing work
  • Eager to critique and develop RT further
  • Inter disciplinary, cross agency
  • Collaborating for mutual benefit
  • Facilitated monthly 3 hour meeting over a year
  • Evaluating the processes and outcomes
questions practitioners ask
Questions practitioners ask:
  • Where do I start?
  • Is it better to work with kids/young people or parents?
  • How do you make a really entrenched young person change?
  • What do you do exactly, for how long and with what intensity?
Some kids do better than others having had very similar experiences – one thing could make a big difference
  • We often have more power than we think
  • Resilience theory gives us a framework within which to plan positive chain reactions
  • For young people doing risky things it is especially helpful to get some protective processes going
  • A resilient approach orientates us towards thinking about how well we’re doing
  • We need to focus on the fine grain – ‘management of effective detail’
  • Use the resilience evidence base to challenge custom and practice in policy and organisations
  • There is hope for everybody!
chaskin 2008
Chaskin 2008

- investing in disadvantaged communities in ways that can reduce the existence and impact of negative risk factors and enhance the mechanisms that promote resilience. This would include investment to promote:

  • Human capital (skills, knowledge)
  • Social capital (relationships, trust)
  • Organizational infrastructure (organizational capacity, interorganizational relationships)
norris et al stops on the disaster roadmap
Norris et al – stops on the disaster roadmap
  • To increase their resilience to disaster, communities must develop economic resources, reduce risk and resource inequities, and attend to their areas of greatest social vulnerability.
  • To access social capital, one of the primary resources of any community, local people must be engaged meaningfully in every step of the mitigation process.
  • Pre-existing organizational networks and relationships are the key to rapidly mobilizing emergency and ongoing support services for disaster survivors.
  • Interventions are needed that boost and protect naturally-occurring social supports in the aftermath of disasters.
  • Communities must plan, but they must also plan for not having a plan; this means that communities must exercise flexibility and focus on building effective and trusted information and communication resources that function in the face of unknown.
further reading
Further reading
  • Hart, A. and Blincow D. with Thomas.H. (2007) Resilient Therapy: Working with children and families. London: Routledge
  • Aumann, K. and Hart, A. (2009) Helping children with complex needs bounce back: Resilient Therapy for parents and professionals. London: Jessica Kingsley
  • Email: [email protected]
relevant literature
Relevant literature
  • Chanan, G. 2009 Evaluating empowerment: reconciling indicators with local experience. South West Foundation & National Empowerment Partnership
  • Chaskin, R.J. 2008 ‘Resilience, community, and resilient communities: Conditioning contexts and collective action’, Child Care in Practice Volume 14 No. 1
  • Edwards, Charlie. Resilient Nation Demos
  • Krasny, M. & Tidball, K. 2008 ‘Systems theory in environmental education: participation, self-organization, and community interactions’, Paper presented at American Educational Research Association.
  • Luthar, S.S. & Brown, P.J. 2007 ‘Maximizing resilience through diverse levels of inquiry: Prevailing paradigms, possibilities, and priorities for the future’, Developmental Psychopathology 19(3), 931-955.
  • Maton, K.I. 2008 ‘Empowering community settings: Agents of individual development, community betterment, and positive social change’, American Journal of Community Psychology 41 pp.4-21
Norris, F.H., Stevens, S.P., Pfefferbaum, B., Wyche, K.F., Pfefferbaum, R. 2008 ‘Community resilience as a metaphor, theory, set of capacities, and strategy for disaster readiness’, American Journal of Community Psychology 41 pp 127-150.
  • Roisman, G.I., Padrón, E., Sroufe, L.A. & Egeland, B. 2002 ‘Earned-secure attachment status in retrospect and prospect’, Child Development 73(4), 1204-1219.
  • Rutter, M. 1999 ‘Resilience concepts and findings: Implications for family therapy’, Journal of Family Therapy 21, 119-144.
  • Sterling, S. 2003 Whole systems thinking as a basis for paradigm change in education: Explorations in the context of sustainability. PhD Thesis, Bath, England: University of Bath (quoted in Krasny & Tidball above)
  • Tidball, K.G. & Krasny, M.E. 2007 ‘From risk to resilience: What role for community greening and civic ecology in cities?’ In A. Wals (Ed) Social learning towards a more sustainable world. Wagengingen Academic Press pp.149-164.