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Graduate school faculty present on family resilience at national conference

June 01, 2012

This May family therapists, researchers and others from around the world who are interested in families and family policy convened in San Francisco for the 34th annual meeting and open conference of the American Family Therapy Academy

The theme of this year’s conference, “Family Resilience”, explored the factors and processes that help families as systems recover from adversity, sustain well-being under stress, and grow in their capacity to cope with future cataclysmic events.

Pilar Hernández-Wolfe, associate professor of counseling and director of our MCFT Program and Andraé Brown, associate professor of counseling psychology, were plenary speakers at the open conference.

Dr. Hernández-Wolfe presented Vicarious Resilience: An Overlooked Gift in Trauma Work. Vicarious resilience is characterized by a unique and positive effect that transforms therapists in response to client trauma survivors’ own resiliency. This dimension of trauma work counteracts the fatiguing processes that therapists normally experience, strengthens their motivation, helps them find new meanings and discover ways to take care of themselves. The presentation also addressed how this concept emerged and how to integrate it in clinical training, supervision and practice.

Learn more about Dr. Hernández-Wolfe’s work here.

Dr. Brown presented Surviving Centuries of Oppression: Adaptations of Street-Life Oriented Black American Men, Their Families, and Communities. Despite some political, economic and social gains, an overwhelming number of Black men in the United States face daily threats to their physical and psychological well-being. Although there have been calls for increased training in cultural competence in the fields of mental health, education, policing, and medicine, the steadily increasing rates of racial disparities in these fields indicate that there remains a need to develop effective strategies to engage, treat and foster resilience in marginalized communities.

Dr. Brown’s presentation explored the Sites of Resilience (SOR) as the theoretical lens for better understanding resilience and the Cultural Context Model (CCM) as a clinical model for engaging and treating street-life oriented Black men and their families in need of mental health services.

Clinical cases were used to illustrate how the SOR theory and the CCM can be applied to create a therapeutic milieu promoting critical consciousness, empowerment, accountability, healing, and liberation on an individual, family and community level. These approaches may increase client engagement and retention, while bolstering street-life-oriented Black men’s ability to better negotiate their environments.

Learn more about Dr. Brown’s work here

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