Resiliency and Residential Treatment Course


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Resiliency Concept…

Course Agenda

  • Objectives
  • Resiliency Hunt
  • What is your definition of Resilience?
  • Definitions
  • History of Education and Prevention…
  • The whole picture
  • Werner & Smith: Classic Resiliency Study
  • Resiliency Study Findings
  • Werner Study Continued
  • The Resilient Profile- 7 Resiliencies
  • Where Does Resiliency Come from
  • Utilizing your resiliency
  • Resiliency and the Solvent user
List of labels
  • The National Picture
  • Resiliency and the Solvent user
  • “Ordinary Magic”
  • Strength Based Questions
  • Getting to know you questions
  • Exception Questions
  • Miracle Questions
  • Scaling Questions

The concept of resiliency is based in psychological and human development theory. A common definition is the extent to which someone can recover from adversity.  A resilient person is often compared to a rubber band. They have the ability to bounce back in spite of significant stress. More recently, the term has been used to describe an individual’s ability to manage or cope with significant adversity or stress in effective ways. The individual’s coping strategies are potential contributors to an increased ability to respond positively to future adversity. Resiliency is viewed here in a holistic way, consisting of a balance between the ability to cope with stress and adversity (recognizing the consequent creation of a skill set of positive coping strategies) and the availability of community support.

Two dynamics are associated with the concept of resiliency: risk and shield. Risk dynamics pertain to an individual living in a context of stressful events. To illustrate, documented risk dynamics for clients at the WBYITC and NNHC include parental alcoholism, a range of forms of abuse, multiple losses, and lack of connection to schools or other support networks.

Shield dynamics, commonly referred to in the literature as strengths or protectors, are individuals’ personal skills, traits, spiritual connections and practices, and community supports. Shield dynamics are formed in two ways–inherent internal spirit of the individual and external community support and their development as a consequence of adversity. Shield dynamics provide a buffer as well as a pool of resources to effectively deal with strain. Note that both risk and shield dynamics are comprised of individual and community components. Also, both risk and shield factors are genuinely dynamic in nature. They can change over time.

Key to this holistic definition of resiliency is the concept of spirit. Traditional Native world view highlights one’s spirit as the core of one’s self–the motivator and animator of one’s life. The spirit is what gives one the ability to bounce back. The conception of resiliency discussed here blends both Native and western philosophies. It is put forth as a set of Native identity based characteristics that have transcended historical oppression and current-day adversity. The spirit is not a material form, so it is indestructible.

The NNYSA program, in its practices and guiding policies, is grounded in the holistic concept of resiliency as defined. It emphasizes the inner spirit through traditional Native teachings and holistic healing.

The literature identifies a number of risk and shield resiliency dynamics in populations defined to be under stress. Drawing on the work of Steven Wolin and Sybil Wolin and supported in the work of others, there are seven personal resiliency dynamics: morality, humour, creativity, initiative, relationships, independence, and insight. The components of this perception of resiliency parallel conceptions of traditional teachings and holistic healing within First Nations culture. This lends support to the holistic definition of resiliency offered, in which individual spirit is highlighted.

The NNYSA’s adherence to the holistic definition of resiliency presented is seen as key to its success.

It is of course necessary to develop a scientific review of the program to conclude this. In the absence of this at present, it is possible to use existing treatment centre data and case illustrations to put it into context and support the discussion.


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