Promoting resilience among adolescents in care from their social workers’ perspectives

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Resilience is increasingly recognized as an important facet of a holistic understanding of children and youth who experience adversity (Masten & Obradovic, 2006). Therefore, it is a useful framework for empirical research to understand what helps adolescents in residential care with a history of abuse and neglect to better adapt to diverse challenges and difficulties. This study explored the perceptions of thirty social workers regarding resilience among the adolescents they treat (age range = 8–17), their view of the factors that contribute to resilience, and their perspectives regarding their role in promoting those adolescents’ resilience. Thematic analysis revealed several themes related to resilience, including the adolescents’ personal skills and features, their interpersonal relationships, their ability to seek help and guidance from adult figures, as well as their positive future perceptions. Strengthening the adolescents’ self-esteem and self-belief through individual therapy and integrative work with systems and support figures in the adolescent's environment emerged as main mechanisms to promote resilience. The discussion addresses the study's findings concerning resilience literature, highlighting the paths from risk to better coping. Implications for practice emphasize the importance of working with adolescents in care from a strength-based perspective, and suggest developing and strengthening programs tailored to utilize protective factors and processes in order to promote their resilience.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-48
Number of pages6
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
StatePublished - Nov 2018


  • Adolescents
  • Coping
  • Residential care
  • Resilience
  • Social workers


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