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Survivors of Family Violence Should Build on Resiliency

A new approach by a University of Missouri researcher helps victims of family violence by encouraging survivors to tell their story of how they overcame adversity.

“Therapists and mental health practitioners can expand the lens of how survivors see themselves and help them recognize their strengths and the resilience they’ve learned from their situations,” said Kim Anderson, associate professor in the MU School of Social Work.

“Utilizing a strengths-based approach can greatly improve recovery for victims of family violence. As with any situation, helping people focus on their abilities instead of their problems increases their motivation and will to succeed.”

Compared to current approaches that emphasize diagnosing symptoms and mental health issues, the strengths-based approach helps identify survivors’ abilities, such as perseverance and overcoming, and how those skills can be used in their present-day lives.

“What are normally regarded as negative traits in survivors of family violence might actually be their survival strengths,” Anderson said.

“Traits that practitioners often try to change may be extremely important to maintain and can help survivors thrive in environments where there isn’t violence.”

The strengths-based approach trains social workers, mental health practitioners, educators and students to uncover the positive in survivors’ life stories—the skills gained by enduring and coping with immense adversity.

This facilitates a more collaborative process, where the professional and the survivor each utilize their individual expertise to develop solutions.

“Victims of family violence find it difficult to see their own strengths and self-worth because it’s often colored by shame and blame,” Anderson said.

“Similarly, practitioners find it difficult because they tend to focus only on victims’ problems. Instead, they need to cast a light on survivors’ abilities to cope and overcome the adversity brought on by family violence.

“This reveals hope that they won’t always be victims of violence and they can achieve what they want in their lives, whatever their dreams are.”

Source: University of Missouri

Survivors of Family Violence Should Build on Resiliency

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Survivors of Family Violence Should Build on Resiliency. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 15, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2010/02/19/survivors-of-family-violence-should-build-on-resiliency/11595.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.