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Identifying Resilience Attributes in Adolescents Using the Youth Resilience Assessment

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Abstract

The Youth Resilience Assessment is a strengths-based assessment that helps to identify the adolescent or college student client’s attributes that contribute to resilience  This article discusses the research on resilience, describe the 12 attributes that we found to comprise resilience in our sample population and shows how this knowledge can help our young clients become more self-aware and be able to find ways to use their strengths to work toward their goals.

What is Resilience and Why is it Important?

The Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate® Dictionary, Eleventh Edition, defines resilience as,an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change.” Reivich and Shatte identify four uses for resilience. Many individuals must call on their reserves of resilience to overcome the negative experiences of their childhood.  Abuse, divorce, poverty, and neglect can weigh heavy on those who have experienced any of them during childhood.  Resilience helps to contain the damage of these experiences and help the individual live the life they want.  Resilience also helps us steer through the everyday stresses and hassles that fill modern life.  A third use of resilience is to help us bounce back from adverse events such as job loss, divorce, a death in the family.  We can become either helpless or resigned to our fate or can use our internal resources to bounce back.  Finally, resilience helps us reach out into the world and find renewed purpose and meaning in life.  This allows us to achieve what we are capable of.

There has been much research in the past fifty years about resilience, mostly about children growing up in difficult circumstances.  How did at least a third of these children become successful, resilient adults? Researchers, such as Werner (1982) and Garmezy (1974), identify a number of positive protective factors that are common to these children.  Primarily, there was a caretaker in their environment who believed in them, such as a parent, relative or teacher.  These kids also had a positive social support network, such as involvement in a church or community group.  What traits do these kids display?  They feel confident in their ability to problem solve, make decisions and communicate.  They are empathic, work well with others and are willing to ask for help and give help.  Additionally, they view mistakes as obstacles to overcome; they set realistic goals and they are internally driven.

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