Two Days with Michael Ungar

Professional Learning Major Events - 2012 Archive

Page archived at: Mon, 10 December 2012 09:12:16 +1000

Playing at being bad: nurturing the hidden resilience of troubled children and youth across cultures and contexts

Thursday 1 & Friday 2 November 2012 | 9am–4pm | The Epping Club | Register online

Troubled Tween

When working with children and adolescents from poor, violent, and emotionally difficult backgrounds, we often focus on the individual's complex needs and problems – for example, delinquency, truancy or conflict with caregivers – and miss the broader sources of healing and resilience in their lives. This two-day workshop will present a strengths-focused, resistance-proof model that draws on the child’s educators, friends, extended family, parents, and community and cultural mentors as potential sources of resilience and positive development. Participants will be taught how to identify and encourage children’s sense of personal self-control, agency and power, social justice and fairness, belonging and purpose, spirituality, and cultural rootedness, and to use this 'social ecological map' to engage them. We will discuss how to contract to achieve useful therapeutic goals that are culturally meaningful, so that participants will learn how to help in real-world settings.

A social ecological approach (SEA) to intervention will be demonstrated using interactive exercises, clinical transcripts and video recordings. SEA builds on best-practice knowledge borrowed from both clinical work and studies of resilience among populations that face significant adversity. This model of intervention is ideally suited to the needs of professionals working in schools, community mental-health clinics, addictions-treatment centres, correctional settings, and home-based family support programs. This workshop explores practical techniques for intervention and case planning while providing participants an opportunity to discuss the most challenging situations in which they work.

Workshop goals

  • Understand how individuals and families with complex needs use problem behaviours to enhance their resilience and wellbeing when more socially acceptable solutions are not available

  • Become familiar with the principles of a social ecological approach to intervention

  • Discuss the Child and Youth Resilience Measure, an assessment tool that can help professionals explore the hidden resilience of children and youth

  • Learn about seven aspects of resilience necessary for positive development

  • Develop strategies for working without resistance with hard-to-reach, culturally diverse children and adolescents

  • Discuss ways services can be structured that make resilience more likely to occur.


Dr Michael Ungar is both a family therapist and a Killam Professor of Social Work at Dalhousie University where he directs the Resilience Research Centre that coordinates more than $5 million in funded research in a dozen countries. That research is focused on resilience among children, youth and families and how they together survive adversity in culturally diverse ways. He has published more than 100 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters on this topic and is the author of 11 books including The Social Worker, his first novel.

Among his books for professionals are The Social Ecology of Resilience: A Handbook for Theory and Practice; and Counseling in Challenging Contexts: Working with Individuals and Families Across Clinical and Community Settings. Dr Ungar also writes for parents and educators. Among his most recent works are We Generation: Raising Socially Responsible Children and Teens; and Too Safe For Their Own Good: How Risk and Responsibility Help Teens Thrive.

In addition to his research and writing, Dr Ungar maintains a family-therapy practice in association with Phoenix Youth Programs, a prevention program for street youth, and was the recipient of the Canadian Association of Social Workers Distinguished Service Award for Nova Scotia in 2010.

Dr Ungar's work has been featured in magazines and newspapers around the world, and he regularly appears on radio and television. Currently, he is Co-Chair of the Nova Scotia Mental Health Strategy Advisory Committee. His blog, "Nurturing Resilience", can be read on Psychology Today's website.

NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) Registered Professional Development
NSWIT Course Code: 2012OPL-UNGAR. This course is endorsed as Institute Registered professional development for maintenance of accreditation at Professional Competence. Scope of endorsement: five years for all elements of the Professional Teaching Standards. Conference (2 days): 11 hours. Please provide your 6-digit Institute Number on your registration form if relevant.