180 – The Role of Resilience When Facing Adversity: Part 2

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For part two, Dr. Jackie Parke joins Sandie Morgan and Dave Stachowiak again to further discuss resilience in adversity. Jackie is a licensed psychologist and Assistant Professor of Psychology at Vanguard University in Southern California who focuses on resilience-building among youth, evidence-based treatment for mental health disorders, and refugee mental health. Jackie provides more insight into the 5 factors related to resilience and how we can help build resilience in others.

Key Points

  • According to Grotburg, resilience is “the human capacity to face, overcome, and be strengthened by or even transformed by the adversities of life.”
  • The five factors related to resilience are social support, coping and self-regulation, problem-solving, hope and a sense of purpose, and meaning-making.
  • Social support is the idea that someone has a team, a group of people who are trustworthy, who love them, who care for them unconditionally, and who are there for them.
  • Coping and self-regulation is the idea that people have a menu of choices at their disposal so that when they are experiencing strong emotions, they can make choices about how to self-regulate and cope with those emotions.
  • Problem-solving is being able to clearly identify a practical life problem, being able to generate multiple potential solutions for that problem, and then being able to experiment by trying one of those solutions.
  • Hope and a sense of purpose will drive them forward in a positive way into the future. This involves having goals for the future, having aspirations, being able to dream about the type of life that they want to have or the type of person that they want to be.
  • Meaning-making is being able to look at our life and what’s happened in the past, what is happening now, what might happen in the future, and being able to assign meaning in a way that is accurate but is also life-giving and hopeful.


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Dave: [00:00:00] You’re listening to the Ending Human Trafficking podcast. This is episode number 180, Building Resilience Factors: Part 2.

Production Credits: [00:00:08] Produced by Innovate Learning, maximizing human potential.

Dave: [00:00:28] Welcome to the Ending Human Trafficking podcast. My name is Dave Stachowiak.

Sandie: [00:00:33] And my name is Sandie Morgan.

Dave: [00:00:36] And this is the show where we empower you to study the issues, be a voice, and make a difference in ending human trafficking. Sandie, on the last episode we began a conversation with Dr. Jackie Parke on the role of resilience when facing adversity. And today she is back to continue that conversation and to really do a deep dive on some of the building resilience factors, some of the critical ones that we should know about. And so, for those who didn’t listen yet to Episode 179, if you didn’t, by the way, you can go back and listen, what should people be remembering from our previous conversation, Sandie?

Sandie: [00:01:15] Well, Dr. Jackie Parke is amazing and her experiences, you can go back and listen to her bio, but she is also, a colleague and valued friend at Vanguard University. And her work with adolescents and with refugees, she just brings a wealth of experience and I love the definition she introduced us to on the last podcast. So, welcome back Dr. Jackie Parke, and why don’t you remind us of the definition of resilience that we’re working with.

Jackie: [00:01:48] Sure, So, we were talking about a definition of resilience that I saw in a literature by Grotburg in 1995. So, the definition is that “resilience is the human capacity to face, overcome, and be strengthened by, or even transformed by the adversities of life.”

Sandie: [00:02:13] Wow. Just like last time, I’m just So, inspired by the idea of transformation because of adversities. And you introduced us to two ends of the spectrum of risk factors and the protective factors. And one of the things that really inspired me about protective factors is that you identified those also, as preventative. And when you are working with adolescents how does that prevention mentality inform how you do that?

Jackie: [00:02:49] Yeah there’s a paradigm that some people look to when they’re working with youth and it’s called positive youth development. But it’s basically this idea that we want to as much as possible identify and highlight the protective factors that are present in a person’s life. We also, want to shore up their psychological resources by if possible increasing the number of protective factors in their life. So, we want to highlight the protective factors that are there. We want to build in more protective factors as possible, with an understanding that this may even prevent them from suffering future difficulties if we can shore up their resources for being resilient.

Sandie: [00:03:37] I love that. And So, for me sometimes it’s the idea that it’s like brushing your teeth with toothpaste that has fluoride in it. I don’t have to have a cavity and take you and get it filled. I just have to teach you how to protect your teeth. And we don’t have to wait for the risk factors to overwhelm a young person or someone who has survived some kind of trauma, but we can actually build those protective factors. So, we talked about two things the last podcast and we’re going to add three. But let’s go back and review social support, Dr. Parke.

Jackie: [00:04:18] Social support is the idea that someone has a team, they have a group of people whether his family, or friends, or professionals who are caring for them. There are people who are trustworthy, and who love them, who care for them unconditionally, and who are there for them. They have a tribe in a sense.

Sandie: [00:04:41] I like the term tribe. I had a conversation recently with someone who was running an aftercare program for adult women with substance abuse issues. And she said, “oh no we’ve got three empty beds because we had three people who broke the rules. And So, now they’re no longer there and So, we can take blah blah blah.” and it’s like well I don’t want to put them there because it feels like that unconditional part. And So, building that support. How would you respond? I had nothing to say, I just got really quiet. How can you have some social support in really difficult circumstances?

Jackie: [00:05:23] Yeah, maybe I have nothing to say too. No, I’m just kidding. It’s a difficult question but I think what my mind goes to is that the love, and support, and the care are unconditional. But unconditional love and care and support do include boundaries. It does include limit setting it does include safety but that may have to work differently from setting to setting. I certainly don’t want to say what any setting or program should do. But what if it’s the case that you can still convey support and care and love by maybe having that person stay in a different you know if it’s a facility with multiple houses perhaps there’s one house that’s a different level of care for people who are really struggling or who have maybe broken some boundaries and limits. They’re still there and they’re still experiencing their care and support and love of the program. But perhaps the immediate environment has shifted. Does that make sense? So, they may move from one house to another house.

Sandie: [00:06:22] That was a fabulous answer and I am So, glad I asked that question. Thank you. Let’s recap coping and self-regulation from the last podcast.

Jackie: [00:06:33] For coping and self-regulation is the idea that people have a menu of choices at their disposal, at their fingertips. So, that when they are experiencing strong emotions, they can make choices about how to self-regulate how to calm down. So, for example after experiencing a really high level of anger or stress or fear they have options in terms of what they can choose to cope with those emotions.

Sandie: [00:07:03] So, then that means I can’t use an excuse like, “Oh you just made me So, mad. So, now I just blame you.” I actually have to take some responsibility for self-regulation.

Jackie: [00:07:17] Right, it’s the idea that we always have the power in our sphere of control to choose how we respond to emotions or choose how we respond to a situation or to other people.

Sandie: [00:07:29] And when I listened to that, and if you haven’t go back and listened to the last podcast, but when I listened to that kind of skill development in personal control of my own emotions that took me back to the part of the definition that we’re basing this on and made it more meaningful to me. Because when I have control of my emotions that transforms So, much of who I am and how I respond to other people. So, it begins to actually support and explain part of the definition of resilience So, that was great. Thank you. So, let’s move on. We have five factors: social support, coping and regulation, and then number three, Dr. Parke.

Jackie: [00:08:22] Number three is problem-solving. So, problem-solving is a skill that we sometimes work on with people in therapy, but it means being able to clearly identify a practical life problem, being able to generate multiple potential solutions for that problem, and then being able to experiment by trying one of those solutions. And then another extra step is that if that solution didn’t work if it wasn’t effective, what else could you try?

Sandie: [00:08:57] Yeah, it’s like the idea that we only are given a multiple-choice test and there are four options and when it’s none of the above, I have no other way to go. That’s really limiting, So, you want us to do E, F, G, H until we find a solution?

Jackie: [00:09:18] Yeah, I mean the sky is the limit. So, we talked in a previous episode as well that social support in a sense kind of activates all these other resilient skills that we’re talking about. But an example of that is that if you’re trying to solve a problem and if your view is that you have exhausted every possible solution you can think of; do you have the social support to talk to someone about your problem and see what solutions they can think of. There is another person that might have some other suggestions that you can try. So, really the sky’s the limit in terms of how creatively we can approach problems that we face in life.

Sandie: [00:09:55] Okay So, that’s kind of a new idea for me because I’ve sort of been trained that when someone comes to me with a problem solving I’m just supposed to reflect back to them what they say to me not generate anything new. But you’re actually saying that as a mentor, as part of being someone’s social support, I can be more creative?

Jackie: [00:10:18] I would say So, I think there’s a developmental piece here in terms of if I’m talking to someone and I’m getting a sense that they’re facing a specific life problem and they maybe have tried one or two ways of approaching that problem I want to get a sense of where is this person at in their problem-solving skill set. So, they’ve tried a few solutions. And I might have a conversation and say wow okay So, I’m hearing that you’ve tried X and that you’ve tried Y, what other ideas do you have about what you might try? So, I definitely do want to put the responsibility on them to see what they can think of first. And I want to honor the fact that they can solve their own problem and So, that is empowering to them. So, I agree with that. But I also, think we talk with people who get really stuck and have a hard time imagining other solutions and So, after us during the problems to them ,and put the responsibility on them I might also, come alongside them and say, “well I really like what you’ve tried, I would have tried that too, I’m surprised it wasn’t as effective as you thought it would be. I wonder if you might try solution Z.” And just sort of offer it as a suggestion, it’s up to them whether they try that but just sort of coming alongside and still giving that person the responsibility for solving this particular practical life problem. But you might tack on a suggestion as well. We talk about a zone of proximal development. Now I’m getting very clinical and jargon with you, Sandie.

Sandie: [00:11:56] No, I love it. Proximal development.

Jackie: [00:11:59] A zone of proximal development is like this window of how this person is developing, and So, there are things that they can do on their own and there are things where I can nudge their growth. I can nudge them to the next level of growth by participating in it for example by offering a suggestion that just opens that window of problem-solving a little bit more.

Sandie: [00:12:22] I like that. Okay, it’s like the first time I went to track and field in P.E. when I was in seventh grade. They didn’t make me try to run a four-minute mile, they just made me try to run two hundred meters. And then the next day you know we went a little further. So, if we keep things on that, say the word again.

Jackie: [00:12:48] The zone of proximal development.

Sandie: [00:12:52] Proximal development. Oh, I’m going to write that down and learn it. Because I do feel like sometimes I hold back of giving some maybe pointing a direction because I don’t want to add too much to this person’s own ability to problem solve but if they’d never experienced it that may have never even occurred to them as a possibility So, that that is helpful. Zone of proximal development, I’m going to study that we may have to have a whole conversation about it, Sounds exciting. And it builds resilience and then we get into number four, hope and a sense of purpose.

Jackie: [00:13:40] So, this one you can probably tell from the name what we’re talking about here but creating a sense of hope and a sense of purpose for people is like an anchor that is going to draw them into the future. It’s So, often the case that when people are coming out of traumatic experiences or even if they’re struggling, especially with PTSD or depression, they are really anchored in the past. They’re tied down to what has happened. They may be experiencing So, many memories or overwhelming experiences coming out of those adverse to traumatic past experiences. But hope is what will drive them forward in a positive way into the future. So, this involves having goals for the future, having aspirations, being able to dream about the type of life that they want to have or the type of person that they want to be. Getting clear on their values and how those values might express themselves in the life that they’re creating of the future. And having a sense of purpose, that their life is not in vain and without meaning or that everything’s without consequence, that they’re here for a reason, that they can make a difference, that they can make a meaningful contribution to the lives of people around them and the world.

Sandie: [00:15:03] So, you mentioned PTSD and I spent time in groups with people who are delivering services in the care and are the counselors and So, on. And sometimes I feel like they might be anchored in that PTSD and that you know all of our victims have PTSD and this is going to be a limiting factor. So, how do I help them move anchor to a better future?

Jackie: [00:15:35] It’s tough because as someone who you know is involved in the treatment of PTSD I see the value of focusing on it and treating it in a really in-depth way when the person is safe, and they have a sense of stability in their life. Because what you’re doing is you’re severing their ties that are anchoring them to the past into their past traumatic experiences, right? So, if you think of it as a metaphor, I guess this is getting a lot of imagery, but if someone’s tied down to these anchors of the past, we have to cut those ropes first before we can anchor them into a hopeful future. Arguably we could do both at the same time, but you still have to cut those ropes to the past. There is value in that. But a concept that’s really helpful in reorienting them to a hopeful future it is post-traumatic growth. And this is a related idea to resilience but it’s the idea that people can come out of traumatic experiences, they can walk through PTSD, and they can experience growth post-traumatically in a way that perhaps wasn’t possible if they hadn’t experienced this traumatic experience. So, post-trauma growth is a really helpful paradigm to think about in a conversation like that.

Sandie: [00:16:47] And that goes all the way back to being strengthened or even transformed by the adversities that you’ve experienced. Oh, I love that. Explain just another minute or So, about values. How does that build at whatever it is that we’re going to use to anchor in the future?

Sandie: [00:17:08] I think in general in society we tend to talk about goals and we tend to talk about the kind of life that we want. Sometimes when I talk with people I’m working in therapy, they have a clear sense of their goals. And to me, that’s the “what”. The goal might be I want to graduate from high school, I want to graduate from college. But there are deeper underlying values that answer the question of why. Well, what is it about graduating high school and graduating college that speaks to their deeper values of who you are as a person and the type of person that you are, and the type of person you want to be. And So, values to me are a deeper level of clarifying our compass in life and how we move forward into the future. Values help us to make decisions about what we will prioritize and how we will set goals and how we will conduct ourselves in relationships. Because they answer the question of why.

Sandie: [00:18:11] Wow that’s fantastic. OK, but we’ve got to stay on track. We’re going to dive into number five, meaning making.

Jackie: [00:18:23] So, meaning-making is being able to look at our life and what’s happened in the past, what is happening now, what might happen in the future, and being able to assign meaning in a way that is accurate but is also, life-giving and is hopeful. So, an example that I would use is that is very different for someone to come out of traumatic experiences and say because all of these things happened, I am now damaged goods. Versus being able to say because all these things have happened to me my trauma is part of what gives me my superpowers as a person. There’s actually someone at my church a week or two ago, Keri Garcia who was teaching and she said you know I really think that some of these difficult experiences that I’ve been through giving me my superpowers as a person. And I really liked how she said that.

Sandie: [00:19:25] Oh wow I’ve got to meet her. I just spent a weekend with my sister, who is a cancer survivor, and she has gone through as you can imagine a lot of horrible treatment, metastases, surgeries, and her resilience is it was like doing a little bit of a case study as I prepared for this podcast. And she actually used the word superpower because the docs at the clinic that she’s part of in their support groups they are astounded at her resilience and all love talking to her because it helps them with their newer patients. And I think this idea of meaning-making, I’ve tended to oversimplify it and I kind of would like a few tips on how I can help people that are kind of moving that anchor from being anchored in their past to their future. How can I help them really tie it down in the future through meaning-making?

Jackie: [00:20:40] I think a lot of the time it starts with really listening in-depth and being present in someone’s story, but then asking some questions. From people who are seemingly stuck in negative meaning-making or negative way of explaining their story to themselves. Once I’ve listened once I’ve really empathized with the difficulty of what they’ve been through, I might say something like, “Wow I just can’t imagine how difficult these experiences have been for you. And yet there’s this part of me that wonders if you have emerged in a new way with strength, with capacities that are pretty amazing. How did you make sense of all this in a way that will create a hopeful future for yourself? What does it mean to you that you have experienced all of this? What are the most wonderful aspects of who you are by way of what you’ve through.” So, I might think of questions like that when people are ready to talk in that way. It’s always a fine line of I don’t want to invalidate you know this person’s pain. I’m not going to deny the difficulty of what they’ve been through. But once I’ve honored that and once I’ve empathized with that and they’ve experienced me as compassionate, I might shift the conversation into questions like that.

Sandie: [00:22:14] Wow. So, if someone wants to take a deeper dive on these five factors of social support, coping and self-regulation, problem-solving, hope and a sense of purpose, and meaning-making, what would be their next steps? My first response is I’m just going to send them to your Website Jakieparke.com. What will they find there that could help them?

Jackie: [00:22:47] I have a section on my Website with mental health resources that I’ve been building this summer. So, I should say it’s under construction, but I’m starting to compile resources there for kids, for teens, for parents, and for teachers. But certainly, there is a whole host of information out there on the Internet regarding resilience as well.

Sandie: [00:23:11] Okay So, I just pulled up on your Website and it is easy, you click on mental health resources, and then you find for parents, for teens, for children, and for teachers. So, I’ll be looking in that teacher segment and seeing how I can grow some of my understanding there as well. That’s So, valuable. When I think about moving from just seeing a trauma-informed care approach that I’m going to implement in my everyday conversations with at-risk populations, this idea of resilience moves me to a different place. And when we started the first podcast you talked about creative vision and my goal for these two podcasts is really to introduce people to thinking about resilience in a way that is applicable in everyday life and with our kids, with our students, and in our own tribes if you will. I like that term, Jackie. Are you part of my tribe?

Jackie: [00:24:26] I hope so, I would be honored to have you on my side. I like to think so.

Sandie: [00:24:32] That makes me feel more resilient knowing that you’re part of my tribe and I think if you’re listening to this and you’re thinking about how you build more intentionality to implementing resilience in your professional outcomes. I really think we can use these five factors and you want to just summarize them in two minutes as we close out this episode, Jackie?

Jackie: [00:25:06] Sure, So, the five factors are social support, coping and self-regulation, problem-solving, hope and a sense of purpose, and meaning-making. And it’s important to keep in mind that social support seems to activate all of the other ones, So, that’s a really important foundation for people to have.

Sandie: [00:25:24] Activators, ok I like that. Jackie, you are inspiring, and you probably don’t realize how much your impact is having on how we create our program at the Global Center for Women and Justice. You actually came and trained briefly with our team that went to work with refugees in Greece and the training that you provided. We just went and replicated it globally and now it’s been instituted at two of the refugee centers there. And I believe that your values are really driving goals that are a better future for those who have suffered extreme trauma. And I’m just really grateful for having you in my life and a big shout out to the work that you continue to do on behalf of refugees. So, thank you So, much, Dr. Jackie Parke. Dave, do you have any comments?

Dave: [00:26:32] Well, thank you, Jacki. In addition to us all just connecting with you and following such great professional work you’re doing Jackie. Sandie and I are both grateful to call you a friend as well. And Sandie we’ve hit on a lot in these last two episodes. And so, a couple call to actions that I’ll have for you listening. The first call to action is if you wanted a deeper dive on what you’ve heard today, we’ve just of course you know scratched the surface. I’d certainly encourage you to go over to Jackie’s Website jackieparke.com. And as you’re there online going into details, I also, hope that you may consider taking a moment to go over to endinghumantrafficking.org. Especially if you’ve been listening to the show recently or perhaps this is the first episode you’re listening to, we’d invite you to take that first step to download a copy of Sandie’s e-book, The Five Things You Must Know, a quick start guide to ending human trafficking. It is really going to provide the foundation for many of the conversations that you’ll hear on the show and the conversation you heard today with Jackie. It will teach you the five critical things Sandie’s identified in her work here through the Global Center for Women and Justice that you should know before joining the fight against human trafficking. So, get access to that by going to endinghumantrafficking.org. Of course, we’ll have the show notes there as well for today’s episode and everything we’ve mentioned. Hey if you’ve been listening for a bit and you have not yet left a rating or review for the show, please do that on whatever platform that you use to listen to the podcast. Thanks in advance, if you do. And Sandie I’ll see you again in two weeks.

Sandie: [00:28:13] That’s right.

Dave: [00:28:14] Take care, everyone.

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