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Literature Review on Resiliency
This paper will discus a literature review on resiliency. In order for us to better understand the contents of this research, let us first define and understand what the term resiliency means. Resiliency in this paper will be associated on matters regarding the psychological and behavioral capacity or condition of children and adolescents. Rak and Patterson (1996) in their study Promoting Resilience in At-Risk Children, indicates Hauser and his colleagues' definition of resiliency as the capacity of those who are exposed to identifiable risk factors to overcome those risks and avoid negative outcomes such as delinquency and behavioral problems, psychological maladjustment, academic difficulties, and physical complications.
The stage of adolescence is considered as the phase where the psychological and behavioral foundation of an adolescent is formed causing a large effect on his individuality in the span of his life's maturity. These foundations can be affected by the environmental origin of the adolescent and it includes his family, friends, community, and school. Experiences from the diverse environmental features of an adolescent differs, they can be positive or negative ones that in turn may cause positive or negative outcomes to his psychological and behavioral foundations. Many studies in psychology have found that adversities in a youth's life are where the framework of resiliency of an adolescent can be measured.
Researches and studies indicate that there are several mediators that can help an adolescent to overcome adversities. Structures in parenting and school counseling are among the most critical factors that are given adequate attention in the goal of supporting an adolescent to overcome adversities. Focusing on one of these structures, this paper will discuss the counseling perspectives on promoting resiliency in the context of education and school environment.
The Causes and Effects of Adversities in Adolescents
To provide a better understanding of the counseling approaches that can help adolescent students overcome adversities, it is essential to have an overview of the causes of adversities in an adolescent's life. In this way, by basing from the causes of adversities, the readers can easily see the relation and relevance of the counseling approaches provided by school support staffs and by school counseling programs.
The experience of adversities during the period of adolescence can present potential risks of developing negative outcomes to an individual. According to Garmezy & Masten, as indicated by Miller and her colleagues (1998), the possibility of developing maladjustments later in life can be augmented by exposure to multiple-risk variables.
There are quite a number of available researches and studies, that have worked on the goal of identifying risk variables that cause negative psychological and behavioral characteristics of an adolescent, have shown evidence that the features of an adolescent's environment play a major role. Miller (1998) indicated an example of which, suggesting Patterson and his colleagues' findings on parenting as critical factor in adolescents' development of antisocial behavior.
Patterson and his colleagues have identified disrupted parenting practices as critical mechanisms that predict movement through a trajectory from early disruptive, antisocial behavior to chronic offending.
Other risk factors, as indicated by Rak and his colleagues (1996), were found by Wermer in his study of 600 children. They are the following.
Little educational stimulation
Poor emotional support within the family
Many studies have found these risk factors to cause stressful life events to non-resilient adolescents, which in turn cause other problems such as drug use, violence, and antisocial behavior (D'Imperio, 2000). Such problems were also found by studies to cause the low academic performance of non-resilient students and their continuous dysfunction.
As this research is generally based on the topic of counseling in the area of education and school environment, the following will be a discussion of topics that are associated on promoting resiliency to students, and in the context and perspectives on resiliency strategies of schools, teachers, and counselors.
How do we characterize a resilient individual? Krovetz (1999) suggested the following list of some of the usual attributes of a resilient child.
Social competence -- the ability to elicit positive responses from others, thus establishing positive relationships with both adults and peers
Problem-solving skills -- the ability to plan, based on seeing oneself in control and on being resourceful in seeking help from others
Autonomy -- a sense of one's own identity and an ability to act independently and exert some control over one's environment
Sense of purpose and future -- having goals, educational aspirations, persistence, hopefulness, and a sense of a bright future
Lewis (1999) indicates that fostering resiliency is among the important goals of school counselors and teachers. This is perhaps due to the increasing number of high school drop-outs and underachieved students who suffer from different problems (McMillan, et. al., 1994). As an approach to provide support to at-risk students, schools foster resiliency. Fostering resiliency is seen as a potential solution in eliminating problems or preventing further problems that may add up to worries of students.
Students have different personalities. As some students demonstrate, despite of the adversities that they encounter in life, they appear to have developed positive attitudes and adaptive qualities that help them cope with problems. A number of studies have shown diverse elements and interventions that schools focus on to help students learn and maintain resiliency in times of hardships in life and during the presence of at-risk factors. McMillan and Reed (1994) indicated the following four critical resiliency-related categories, which if given with sufficient attention can establish resiliency to students. These categories are important part of counseling provided by schools to foster resiliency.
Positive Use of Time
How Resiliency-Related Categories Are Fostered in the Perspectives of Counseling and Education
In this section, we will discuss how the resiliency-related factors, based from McMillan and Reed's (1993) categories, can help students overcome adversities and encourage them to react positively on difficult circumstances in their lives.
The resiliency of students against negative experiences depends on their individual attributes and on the influence of people around them. Students with positive attributes tend to succeed more than those non-resilient students who demonstrate negative attributes. One of the positive characteristics of resilient students, and one of the reasons why they succeed in their endeavors, is their aspiration of attaining high achievements in education (Peng, et., al, 1992). Other positive attributes that are helpful to becoming resilient are: social competence, problem-solving skills, autonomy, and a sense of purpose and future (Bernard, 1993). In his study, Luthar (1991) also found that good interpersonal skills fosters resiliency. This may involve participation within group works that can help students learn how to relate with others (Lock & Janas, 2002).
The positive personality traits of students provide them with helpful consequences that lead to strengthening their resiliency. McMillan and Reed (1994) indicate an instance of this, showing how resiliency results from positive personality traits and positive influence of other.
Their positive attitudes are usually rewarded with helpful reactions from those around them. Thus, they come to see the world as a positive place in spite of the difficult issues with which they have to deal.
Such experience is a major factor in leading a student to aspire success in their goals. McMillan and Reed (1993) indicate that many at-risk students who are academically successful attribute their success in the self-fulfillment that they feel from gaining success.
In general, McMillan and Reed (1994) suggests that the positive attributes such as learning from failures, and gaining motivation out of failures and out of adversities in life are critical influencing factors to students' resiliency.
Positive Use of Time
Time spent in a meaningful way can help promote resiliency to students. This is one of the counseling interventions that many schools do to promote resiliency. It includes the technique of encouraging students to participate in meaningful and creative activities, which in turn can develop students' skills while promoting self-esteem. Benard (1993) indicates the following findings of Rutter on how students of a school with low delinquency rate spend their time.
Children were given a lot of responsibility. They participated very actively in all sorts of things that went on in school; they were treated as responsible people and they reacted accordingly.
Zunz and Turner (1993), in their study of promoting resiliency in an aim to prevent and treat substance abuse, also suggests that participation in social activities allows the development of sense of life's meaning, purpose, and direction to the participants. Bosworth and Earthman (2002) similarly enumerated the following evidences, as extracted from his review of literatures, that positive use of time in school and community promotes resiliency.
Rak and Patterson (1996) noted that having opportunities to be helpful to others had lasting protective effects. Gottfredsen (1986) found that students who had opportunities to share in decision making at school experienced greater expectations for educational success and a reduction in delinquent behavior. Rutter (1980) reported that students who had opportunities to participate in planning school activities demonstrated better attendance, improved…[continue]
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