Today I started rereading The Power of Resilience: Achieving Balance, Confidence, and Personal Strength in Your Life by Robert Brooks and Sam Goldstein. I am reading this to remind myself of the qualities resilient people possess. I want to develop ways to help my adolescent patients face a changed classroom when they return to school this fall.

I want to help youth learn to be resilient. Concentrating on helping people to develop what Brooks and Goldstein call a resilient mindset provides the best foundation for learning the skills necessary to be strong individuals.

Empathy and having effective interpersonal communication skills are two of the main features of a resilient mindset and these are two skills that I have usually had teens practice in a group.

Think about yourself as a teenager – or if that’s too hard, think about a teenager you know. Are they not keenly aware of their own feelings? However, as aware of teens are their own feelings, they can be tone deaf to the feelings of others. Realizing that others can have different reactions to a situation than you do is the main underpinning of empathy.

Realizing that others might feel differently about a situation than you and asking each other how they do feel are essential skills in communication. These skills can be very effectively learned in a group.

What will I do if I can’t have groups in the fall?

I have been thinking about this and exercises that might replace dialogue include:

  • “Prescribing” poems and stories to read where the most difficult situations are faced.
  • Writing stories that include dialogue about a problem.
  • “Prescribing” or playing music that inspires empathy.
  • Singing and writing ballads that tell difficult stories.

I write out these exercises and I know that they will help teens, but they won’t be as much fun as a group and, as we are all finding out, Zoom groups just aren’t the same.

What will I do if I can’t have groups in the fall?

(The image of a plant thriving in a crevice illustrates resilience perfectly. What is your favourite image of resilience?)

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