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Steven Wolin : Resiliency Theory

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By Heidi Plant and Jessica Young. Steven Wolin : Resiliency Theory . Biography. Steven Wolin is a clinical professor of psychiatry at the George Washington University Medical School Wife is Sybil Wolin, she is a developmental psychologist Began their work on resilience in the late 80’s

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  • Steven Wolin is a clinical professor of psychiatry at the George Washington University Medical School
  • Wife is Sybil Wolin, she is a developmental psychologist
  • Began their work on resilience in the late 80’s
  • Co-directors of project Resilience, private organization in Washington, DC

-consults to schools, clinics

what is resiliency
What is Resiliency?
  • Resiliency can be defined as:

“the ability to spring back from and adapt successfully to adversity.”

  • A fifteen year old who had completed some resiliency training described it as “Bouncing back from problems and stuff with more power and smarts.”
  • (
  • Basically resiliency is the quality in a child, who regardless of exposure to risk factors, maintains well being and a healthy life style.
children at risk
Children at Risk

Children at risk can be victims of and may show the following indicators at an early age:

  • Violence
  • Alienation
  • Failure in school
  • Early anti-social behaviour
  • Rebellion
  • School Drop outs
  • Drug abuse
theory the seven resiliences
Theory- The Seven Resiliences
  • Insight - asking tough questions and giving honest answers.
  • Independence - distancing emotionally and physically from the sources of trouble in one's life.
  • Relationships - making fulfilling connections to other people.
  • Initiative - taking charge of problems.
  • Creativity - using imagination and expressing oneself in art forms.
  • Humor - finding the comic in the tragic.
  • Morality - acting on the basis of an informed conscience.
diagram of the seven resiliences
Diagram of the Seven Resiliences

Wolin uses the word ‘resiliencies’ to describe areas of strength that are put into place throughout the struggle with hardships.

the developmental stages of each resiliency
The Developmental Stages of each Resiliency

Each resiliency develops in stages. The inside ring represents childhood, and moves outward to adolescence and adulthood.

Childhood- resilience's are unformed behaviours

Adolescence- behaviours sharpen and are deliberate

Adults- behaviours deepen, becoming a part of the self

challenge model
Challenge Model

This model grew out of the Wolin’s research with people who lead satisfying lives despite challenges and hardships in Childhood.

In the Challenge Model, two forces are at work as children interact with the troubles in their lives. Interweaving arrows represent the interplay. Troubles are seen as a danger to children and also as an opportunity. Children are vulnerable to the toxic influence of hardship, but they are also challenged to rebound from harm by experimenting, branching out, and developing their own resources. Over time, these self-protective behaviours develop into strengths called resiliencies.

theory applied in the classroom
Theory applied in the Classroom
  • Have high expectations for all your students, and treat them all equally
  • Be a good role model for your students
  • Be prepared to work with agencies and families in the best interest of your students
  • Outline specific rules and expectations as a guideline for students when completing work
  • Have lots of group work to encourage group participation and learn the skills to work effectively as a team
theory specific to special education and sara porter
Theory Specific to Special Education and Sara Porter

Sarah Porter -There are certain strengths that Sarah is struggling with, causing her failure in school-It is not mentioned as to whether or not Sarah is struggling at home with tough issues, we just assume that her behaviour is due to lack of academic challenges in the classroom-Recommendations to meet Sarah’s needs:o Provide opportunity for more social bonding between classmateso Set boundaries that are clear and consistento Allow opportunities for Sarah to participate in activities that are meaningful to hero This, along with caring and support should help Sarah to feel more motivatedo Ultimately, it will provide her with set boundaries and expectations to abide by that may influence her to be more incorporated in the classroom

  • Use of cooperative learning groups
  • The importance of creating community in your classroom so all students feel safe and comfortable
  • Teachers must demonstrate mutual respect with students
  • Some objectives in the classroom are: effectively learning the academic content and practicing social skills
  • State the objectives clearly so that the students feel a sense of accomplishment when they complete their work
  • (1999). Retrieved March 6th, 2009, from Project Resilience:
  • (2008). Retrieved March 6th, 2009, from Resiliency in Action:
  • Systems, C. (n.d.). Retrieved March 6th, 2009, from A New Way of Learning and Being Together:
  • Journal Article “Resiliency in Children and Families”

-Gonzalez, J. (2000). Resiliency in Children and Families. 11.