Facilitating Family Resilience: Relational Resources for Positive Youth Development in Conditions of Adversity



A social ecological understanding of resilience recognizes the important contributions of family and social networks, community services, and cultural influences in the positive development of youth in conditions of adversity. This paper offers relational and systemic perspectives on resilience, first considering how key family bonds in the multigenerational network of relationships can nurture children’s resilience. It then addresses resilience in the family as a functional unit, with ecological and developmental perspectives. It describes the author’s research-informed family resilience framework developed for clinical and community-based practice to strengthen children and families facing adversity. Core principles and guidelines in this family resilience approach are described, suggesting its broad utility for intervention and prevention efforts with vulnerable youth and their families. Key processes in family resilience, culled from findings from research on resilience and effective family functioning, are identified for practitioners to target interventions that enable children and their families to thrive in response to serious life challenges.


Crisis Situation Kinship Care Mental Health Practitioner Life Challenge Family Life Cycle 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Anderson, C. M. (2012). The diversity, strengths, and challenges of single-parent households. In F. Walsh (Ed.), Normal family processes: Growing diversity and complexity (4th ed.). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  2. Antonovsky, A., & Sourani, T. (1988). Family sense of coherence and family adaptation. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 50, 79–92.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Aponte, H. (1994). Bread and spirit: Therapy with the new poor. New York: Norton.Google Scholar
  4. Engstrom, M. (2012). Family processes in kinship care. In F. Walsh (Ed.), Normal family processes: Diversity and complexity (4th ed.). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  5. Epstein, N., Ryan, C., Bishop, D., Miller, I., & Keitner, G. (2003). The McMaster model: View of healthy family functioning. In F. Walsh (Ed.), Normal family processes (3rd ed., pp. 581–607). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  6. Falicov, C. (1995). Training to think culturally: A multidimensional comparative framework. Family Process, 34, 373–388.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Falicov, C. J. (2007). Working with transnational immigrants: Expanding meanings of family, community and culture. Family Process, 46, 157–172.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Herdt, G., & Koff, B. (2000). Something to tell you: The road families travel when a child is gay. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Hernandez, P. (2002). Resilience in families and communities: Latin American contributions from the psychology of liberation. Journal of Counseling & Therapy for Couples and Families, 10(3), 334–343.Google Scholar
  10. Hetherington, E.M., & J. Kelly (2002) For Better or For Worse: Divorce Reconsidered. New York: Norton.Google Scholar
  11. Imber-Black, E., Roberts, J., & Whiting, R. (Eds.). (2003). Rituals in families and family therapy (2nd ed.). New York: Norton.Google Scholar
  12. Kaufman, J., & Ziegler, E. (1987). Do abused children become abusive parents? American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 57, 186–192.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Landau, J. (2007). Enhancing resilience: Families and communities as agents for change. Family Process, 46(3), 351–365.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Landau, J., & Saul, J. (2004). Facilitating family and community resilience in response to major disasters. In F. Walsh & M. McGoldrick (Eds.), Living beyond loss: Death in the family (2nd ed., pp. 285–309). New York: Norton.Google Scholar
  15. Luthar, S. S., Cicchetti, D., & Becker, B. (2000). The construct of resilience: A critical evaluation and guidelines for future work. Child Development, 71, 543–562.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. McCubbin, H., Thompson, E. A., Thompson, E., & Fromer, J. (Eds.). (1998a). Resiliency in ethnic minority families. Vol. 1. Native and immigrant families. Thousand Oaks: Sage.Google Scholar
  17. McCubbin, H., Thompson, E. A., Thompson, A. I., & Fromer, J. E. (Eds.). (1998b). Stress, coping, and health in families: Sense of coherence and resiliency. Thousand Oaks: Sage.Google Scholar
  18. McGoldrick, M., Gerson, R., & Petry, S. (2008). Genograms: Assessment and intervention (3rd ed.), New York: Norton.Google Scholar
  19. McGoldrick, M., Carter, B., & García-Preto. N. (2011). The expanded family life cycle: Individual, family, and social perspectives (4th ed.) Boston: Allyn and Bacon.Google Scholar
  20. Olson, D. H., & Gorell, D. (2003). Circumplex model of marital and family systems. In F. Walsh (Ed.), Normal family processes (3rd ed., pp. 514–544). New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
  21. Patterson, J. (2002). Integrating family resilience and family stress theory. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 64, 349–373.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Rolland, J. S. (1994). Families, illness and disability: An integrative treatment model. New York: Basic.Google Scholar
  23. Rutter, M. (1987). Psychosocial resilience and protective mechanisms. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 57, 316–331.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Seccombe, K. (2002). “Beating the odds” versus “changing the odds”: Poverty, resilience, and family policy. Journal of Marriage & Family, 64(2), 384–394.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Seligman, M. E. P. (1990). Learned optimism. New York: Random House.Google Scholar
  26. Ungar, M. (2004). The importance of parents and other caregivers to the resilience of high-risk adolescents. Family Process, 43(1), 23–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Walsh, F. (1996). The concept of family resilience: Crisis and challenge. Family Process, 35, 261–281.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Walsh, F. (2002). A family resilience framework: Innovative practice applications. Family Relations, 51(2), 130–137.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Walsh, F. (2003). Family resilience: A framework for clinical practice. Family Process, 42(1), 1–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Walsh, F. (2006). Strengthening family resilience (2nd ed.). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  31. Walsh, F. (2007). Traumatic loss and major disasters: Strengthening family and community resilience. Family Process, 46(2), 207–227.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Walsh, F. (Ed.). (2009). Spiritual resources in family therapy (2nd ed.). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  33. Walsh, F. (2012). Normal family processes: Diversity and complexity (4th ed.). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  34. Walsh, F., & McGoldrick, M. (Eds.). (2004). Living beyond loss: Death in the family (2nd ed.). New York: W. W. Norton.Google Scholar
  35. Werner, E. E., & Smith, R. S. (2001). Journeys from childhood to midlife: Risk, resilience, and recovery. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  36. Yang, O.-K., & Choi, M.-M. (2001). Korean’s Han and resilience: Application to mental health social work. Mental Health & Social Work, 11(6), 7–29.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Chicago Center for Family HealthUniversity of ChicagoChicagoUSA

Personalised recommendations