Roberta R. Greene, PhD, LCSW, professor and chair in Gerontology and Social Welfare at the School of Social Work, University of Texas at Austin, and Nicole Dubus, PhD, LCSW, assistant professor in social work at San Jose State University, California, have developed a practical guide to direct service providers through the complex roles of helping survivors affected by long-term adverse conditions reclaim their lives in Resilience in Action: An Information and Practice Guide. This case study–driven guide addresses natural disasters; chronic disease; family readjustment, including refugee resettlement; and political violence. In line with the ethical responsibilities of social work practice, this book highlights work with vulnerable and marginalized populations in addressing ongoing conditions of adversity. The book indicates that critical events addressed in the text are often a chain in an ongoing series of events for the referenced group. Attention is given to the issue of prevention as it relates to the need for specialized skills when working with children and older adults. With nine chapters and a preface that sets the tone for service providers to master the knowledge, skills, and abilities to assist adverse critical event survivors, igniting their level of resilience, this is a realistic and functional practice guide. Readers are urged to reflect on life-changing occurrences, like Hurricane Katrina and the Oklahoma City bombing, that not only have taken lives, but also have shaped and strengthened lives. The authors inform the reader that even at the time of the writing of the manuscript, there was a mass murder in Orlando, Florida, which resulted in the death of 49 people and the injury of 53. I concur with the authors’ stance that the irony of the writing of this guide, and a mass murder in the United States, speaks volumes to the need for resilience-enhancing work. Unfortunately, the need for resilience-enhancing work and having a skill set to address critical events has been amplified by the Las Vegas shooting on October 1, 2017, which shocked and saddened America. In this shooting, there were 59 deaths and over 500 injuries. The central educational focus highlighted in every chapter of this book is the Resilience Ecological Stress Model (RESM), an ecological system–based metatheory, which can be used in helping individuals, families, and communities return to effective functioning after an adverse event. Basic terms of RESM are introduced in the introductory chapter, but what brings the metatheory to life is the real-life scenarios of people of diverse cultural backgrounds who have walked through adversity with resilience. For instance, the lives of Jerry and Katherine, who lived through the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, are provided in the opening and closing chapters of this applicative guide. The cases of Jerry and Katherine serve as a reminder of recognizing naturally occurring signs of resilience and capitalizing on those attributes through appropriate use of engagement, assessment, intervention, and evaluation of practice. An effective attribute that is available for review throughout the guide is the Theory Toolbox, which offers the human services provider directives on key components that social workers and other service providers should listen for, observe, and act on when building resilience. Furthermore, the tool box reinforces the chapter content and provides a practical approach to linking theory and practice. Chapters 3, 4, and 5 address chronic disease, military families, and earthquake devastation, more specifically the Loma Prieta Earthquake of 1989. These chapters inform and remind practitioners of the impact adverse conditions have not only on individuals, but also on families, groups, and the very infrastructure of a community. The text sheds light on the long-term tenacity that is needed to build resilience and promote recovery from a critical event. For instance, in the chapter addressing chronic disease as a long-term critical event, practitioners are reminded of the importance of being culturally competent and capitalizing on spiritual assets. In regard to military families, chapter 4 offers the Family Resilience Template, which is applicable to varied family compositions, as a viable tool for intervention. Moreover, the social problem of suicide among returning veterans and the importance of referral are specified all while capitalizing on RESM. In essence, the chapters revisit the human services foundation of addressing individuals, families, and even larger systems holistically. Chapters 6, 7, and 8 draw the reader’s attention to political violence, the importance of prevention, and refugee resettlement. Particularly, chapter 6 takes a reflective practice look at the Oklahoma City bombing and the power of a collective spirit in saving and rebuilding lives. Information highlighted in the chapter emphasizes the premise that political violence necessitates individual and system-level resilience. Chapter 7 highlights building resilient schools. Readers are encouraged to review studies conducted by Communities In Schools (CIS). CIS is a federation of 501 independent organizations, 27 states, and the District of Columbia working to build and support systems within schools and within a community to empower students to stay in school. Assumptions presented direct the human services provider to conduct a self-evaluation that addresses shaping and manipulating the environment to promote resilience and, ultimately, to develop an atmosphere that supports productivity. Chapter 8 addresses refugee resettlement and the importance of community in addressing the needs of the targeted population. Readers are connected to the issue of resettlement through a case study that highlights the fears and aspirations of those dealing with this life-changing event. It is evident that this guide accurately addresses micro, mezzo, and macro levels of practice. The book concludes with a look at special populations, often the most vulnerable to adverse critical events. Chapter 9 challenges human services professionals to confirm the importance of relationships, to uphold a survivors’ determination, and to support hope for the future. The guide is practice and research informed, and this final chapter maintains that premise through highlighting the literature’s stance regarding resilience of children and Birren’s Theory of Functional Age. An overarching focus of the book points to the importance of building resilience in the face of adversity. Resilience is referenced from cover to cover as a goal-directed action that is used to help client systems stabilize after a critical event. I would recommend this book to a novice, a seasoned social worker, or any other human services practitioner for inclusion in their professional library. The topic of resilience is a must-read today as the adverse critical events referenced in this information and practice guide are becoming more frequent in their occurrences. Indeed, this work can serve as a supplemental text in the educational arena. I would recommend it to a first-year practice course, especially those that select a generalist perspective. The case scenarios serve as a welcomed learning strategy for educators. In future editions, I would recommend a chapter that addresses the inclusion of the collaborative power of higher education, faith-based communities, stakeholders, and community members in building resilience. In fact, in my local community, which has been faced with the task of recovery post a fatal flood, collaboration is vital and community leaders are seeking a roadmap to stimulate positive change. I fully propose that future editions of this book should include a greater focus on the impact that collaborative power has on promoting resilience. I truly believe that this guide can be a vital aspect of the go-to road map that communities turn to in stimulating recovery. Assuredly, those involved in restoring the lives of individuals, families, groups, and infrastructures to their pre–critical event level of functioning will find a rich resource of tools that express the hope, determination, and transformation in Resilience in Action: An Information and Practice Guide. © 2018 National Association of Social Workers This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (https://academic.oup.com/journals/pages/about_us/legal/notices)
Social Work – Oxford University Press
Published: May 2, 2018
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