Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Resilience May Be Best Defense for Children in Difficult Families

Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Resilience May Be Best Defense for Children in Difficult Families

Article excerpt

WHITEFISH, MONT. -- Children raised in dysfunctional families can thrive if they learn to be resilient, said Jerry Moe, children's program director at the Betty Ford Center in Rancho Mirage, Calif.

This is best accomplished using programs based on a "challenge" model rather than a "damage" model of intervention. The damage model focuses on negative aspects of the child's world, encouraging the child to see himself as a victim and fostering a sense of despair. The challenge model helps the child build strengths and competence, helps him to see himself as a survivor, and instills a sense of hope.

That children can overcome the effects of such adversity is best shown by the research of Dr. Emmy Werner, Mr. Moe said at a mental health symposium sponsored by Kalispell Regional Medical Center. He described her long-term study of 800 children in Kauai, Hawaii, that began in 1955. The children were born into difficult circumstances, including poverty, family instability, or mental health problems in at least one parent. Children who had experienced perinatal complications also were included in the study. …

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