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Strengthening Family Resilience Facilitating Healing & Positive Growth From Adversity Centro di Psicologia e Analisi Transazionale Milan, Italy ~ June.

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Presentation on theme: "Strengthening Family Resilience Facilitating Healing & Positive Growth From Adversity Centro di Psicologia e Analisi Transazionale Milan, Italy ~ June."— Presentation transcript:

1 Strengthening Family Resilience Facilitating Healing & Positive Growth From Adversity Centro di Psicologia e Analisi Transazionale Milan, Italy ~ June 25, 2012 F roma W alsh, PhD Co-Director, Chicago Center for Family Health Firestone Professor Emerita, The University of Chicago


3 Myth: Healthy Families are Problem-Free


5 Chronic Stress -- The “New Normal”

6 R esilience Strengths in the context of adversity The ability to withstand and rebound from stressful life challenges --- emerging strengthened and more resourceful

7 Resilience How we Deal with Adversity Coping + Adaptation + Positive Growth More than Surviving: Ability to Thrive Transformation Crisis = Challenge + Opportunity !

8 Varied Images of Resilience ~ Popular view: “Just Bounce back!” ~ “A tree that bends in the storm but does not break” ~ “Suffering that is deep but not without hope” ~ “Fall down 5 times; get up 6 times!”

9 Many Varied Pathways in Resilience: Positive Development ~ Future Life Vision

10 Myth: The Rugged Individual Invulnerable Self-Reliant

11 “ We encourage people to rescue themselves ”


13 Studies of Resilient Youth: Models and Mentors

14 Resilience is Nurtured in Relationships : To thrive, Individuals need “Relational Lifelines”: Supportive Bonds, Models & Mentors who:  Believe in their Worth and Potential  Draw out, Affirm Strengths, Abilities  Inspire Hopes and Dreams  Encourage Best Efforts  See Failures as Opportunities for Learning, Growth  Celebrate Successes

15 Nourishing Bonds

16 Relational Resilience: Mutual Support

17 Identify and Draw on Extended Family Resources

18 Guardian Angel

19 Multigenerational Family Tree

20 Family Photos, Stories of Resilience

21 Bonds with Companion Animals


23 Pet Role -- Child Resilience in Family Transition

24 Strengthen: Family Community Cultural & Spiritual Resources

25 Strengthening Resilience : Relational Lifelines ~~~~~~~~~~ Facilitate coping and positive growth Through Vital Connections:  Family network  Social and community  Cultural and Spiritual

26 Family Resilience Team Effort Collaboration Mutual Support Leadership

27 Walsh Family Resilience Framework  Integrates 3 decades of research on resilience & effective family functioning to inform, guide clinical & community-based services, prevention programs  Identify & strengthen key family processes & multi-systemic resources for coping, adaptation, and positive growth  Use in Community-based settings; wide range of applications, formats: –Family Consultation; Brief Counseling; Family Therapy –Multi-family Groups; Workshops; Community Forums

28 Family Resilience Strengths & Resources for Families to Thrive in the face of Adversity Rebound from Crises Navigate Disruptive Changes Weather Multi-stress Conditions Overcome Obstacles to Success

29 Chicago Center for Family Health Resilience-Oriented Program Applications –Recover from Crisis, Trauma, Loss Traumatic Loss; Community Disaster Refugees; War-related trauma; Military families –Navigate Disruptive Life Changes Migration; Separation / Divorce; Foster Care –Cope, manage Multi-Stress Conditions e.g. Chronic illness, Disabilities Financial strain, Unemployment Ongoing complex trauma; Neighborhood blight –Overcome Barriers to Success At-risk youth: Family - School Partnership; –L.A. Gang Prevention / Youth Development

30 KEYS TO FAMILY RESILIENCE Belief Systems 1. Making Meaning of Crisis & Challenge 2. Positive Outlook: Hope – Master the Possible 3. Transcendence & Spirituality Organizational Resources 4. Flexibility / Stability 5. Connectedness; Leadership 6. Kin, Social, & Economic Resources: “Lifelines” Communication Processes 7. Clear, consistent messages 8. Emotional Sharing; Pain /Humor / Joy /respite 9. Collaborative Problem-solving / Proaction

31 Belief Systems The Heart and Soul of Resilience Rooted in Cultural & Spiritual Heritage Multigenerational Legacies Dominant Society Norms, Values, Biases Past Experience & Future Expectations

32 The Power of Beliefs Seeing is believing ~ Western view We must believe in something To be able to see it ~ Native American view We do not see things as they are -- We see them as we are. ~ The Talmud

33 1. Meaning -Making EEncourage Relational View of Resilience NNormalize, Contextualize Distress, –D–De-pathologize –– Blame, Shame, Stigma, Guilt GGain Sense of Coherence –V–View Crisis as Shared Challenges: Meaningful, Comprehensible, Manageable AAppraise Situation; Options: Facilitative vs. Constraining Beliefs: –E–Explain Events, causal: –F–Future expectations / catastrophic fears: What can we do ? Active Agency

34 2. Positive Outlook IInstill Hope; –E–En-Courage ; build Confidence AAffirm Strengths, Abilities; –B–Build on Potential AActive Initiative & Perseverance –S–Seize Opportunities MMaster the Possible Accept what can't be changed Tolerate uncertainty





39 Master the Art of the Possible: Do all you can With what you have In the time you have In the place you are

40 3. Transcendence ~ Spirituality LLarger Values, Purpose SSpiritual Resources: Faith, Practices, Community, Nature IInspiration: Envision New Possibilities –A–Aspirations: Role Models, Life dreams –I–Invention; Innovative Solutions –C–Creative Expression--writing, art, music TTransformation: Learning, Change, & Growth –R–Redirect life priorities; deepen bonds –C–Compassion  Acts to Benefit Others Service, activism, social justice

41 Spirituality: a Dimension of Human Experience We are Bio-psycho-social-spiritual Beings ~~~~~~~~~~  Streams of influence flowing through all aspects of life o Family & Cultural Heritage o Transcendent Beliefs, Spiritual Practices, Community  Within or outside religion: we can express: o humanistic values, nature, the arts, social action  Fosters Meaning, Wholeness, Harmony  Deep Connection within Self & With all Others  Influences Suffering; Promotes Healing & Resilience

42 Family Organization Relational Shock Absorbers 4. Flexibility -- to change, Adapt Provide Stability --Structure, Reliability Leadership - Nurture, Protect, Guide 5. Connectedness -- Mutual Support Commitment, collaboration, caregiving 6. Social, Community, Larger Systems Workplace, Healthcare, Child / Elder care Overcome odds / Change odds to thrive

43 Communication Processes 7. Clear, consistent messages -- Information: Truth seeking / speaking 8. Share Feelings; Respect Differences -- Suffering, Struggle, Fear, Regrets -- Pride, Appreciation, Joy, Humor, Fun -- Respite: Refuel Energies & Spirit 9. Collaborative Problem-Solving -- Build Resourcefulness -- Celebrate successes; learn from mistakes -- Be Proactive: Planning, Preparedness

44 Families are Sanctuaries of Life and Love

45 Family Resilience Practice Framework Shift Focus from family Deficits, Limitations to Strengths, Potential, Hopes & Dreams Developmental, Systemic Perspective Bio-Psycho-Social-Spiritual Influences Family Challenged by Adversity –timeline: stress events Family Response: Facilitates Adaptation of all Members, Relationships, Family Unit Relational View of Human Resilience  Resilience-focused genogram: identify kin, social, community, spiritual resources Recruit models, mentors Build relational life-lines, teams, networks

46 Varied Challenges and Pathways in Resilience: No single model fits all families, their values, situations, & challenges Prevention: By strengthening resilience, families and their members become more resourceful to meet future challenges.

47 Facilitating Family Resilience : Practice Guidelines Core Conviction in Strengths, Potential of all Families, alongside Vulnerabilities, Limitations Language, Framing to Depathologize, Humanize Contextualize Distress; Decrease Shame, Blame Compassion for Suffering, Struggle, Losses View Crisis as Opportunity: Learning, Healing, & Positive Growth Shift Focus from Problems to Possibilities for Mastery, Thriving, Relational Repair Steps toward Future Vision: Hopes and Dreams Integrate Challenges and Resilience into the Fabric of Personal & Relational Lives.

48 Guidelines to Facilitate Healing, Resilience from Complicated or Traumatic Loss  Start by grounding in their family, community, cultural, & spiritual connections.  Invite them to share their loss experience.  Offer compassionate witnessing of recent (& ongoing) losses, hardships, or injustices suffered.  Draw out, affirm strengths in coping efforts;  Link with kin, community resources  Re-member persons & relationships lost; Continuing Bonds: Spiritual connection, Stories, Deeds  Future orientation: renew / revise hopes, dreams

49 Resilience of the Human Spirit Let nothing dim the light that shines from within ~ Maya Angelou

50 The Power Of Connection

51 In strengthening resilience, We strive to integrate the experience of adversity-- and our resilient response – Into the fabric of our individual and shared identity, Influencing how we go on to live our lives.

52 “A hero is one who does the best of things in the worst of times Seizing every opportunity.” --Joseph Campbell

53 References Walsh, F. (2006 / 2011). Strengthening Family Resilience. (2 nd ed.) Guilford. Walsh, F. (Ed.). (2009). Spiritual Resources in Family Therapy. (2 nd ed.) Walsh, F. (2012). Normal Family Processes: Growing Diversity & Complexity. 4 th ed. Guilford. Walsh, F. (2007). Traumatic loss and major disaster: Strengthening family and community resilience. Family Process, 46, 207-227. Walsh, F. (2003). Family resilience: A framework for clinical practice. Family Process, 42 (1),1-18 Walsh, F. (2009). Human-animal bonds: I. The relational significance of companion animals. Special section, Family Process, 48 (4) 462-480. Walsh, F. (2009). Human-Animal bonds: II. The role of pets in family systems and family therapy. Special section, Family Process 48 (4), 481-499. Walsh, F. (2010). Spiritual diversity: Multifaith perspectives in family therapy. Family Process, 49 330-348. Walsh, F. & McGoldrick, M. (Eds.).(2004). Living Beyond Loss (2 e.) Norton.

54 Walsh, F. (2011). Family resilience: A collaborative approach in response to stressful life challenges. In S. Southwick, D. Charney, B. Litz, & M. Freedman, (Eds.) Resilience and mental health: Challenges across the life span. (pp. 149-161). New York: Cambridge University Press. Walsh, F. (2011). Resilience in families with health challenges. In M. Kraft-Rosenberg, & S.-R. Pehler, (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Family Health, ( 895-899 ). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Walsh, F. (2011). Facilitating Family Resilience: Relational resources for positive youth development in conditions of adversity. In M. Ungar (Ed. ) The social ecology of resilience. Springer. Walsh, F. (2012). Successful aging and family resilience. In B. Haslip & G. Smith (Eds.) Emerging Perspectives on Resilience in Adulthood and Later Life. New York: Springer. Walsh, F. (In press). Community-based practice applications of a family resilience framework. In D. Becvar (Ed.), Handbook of family resilience. New York: Springer. References (Cont ’d)

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