Chicago was recently home to the Third Annual International Resilience Summit, hosted by the National Resilience Institute at the Chicago Cultural Center. This was a two day conference from November 2-3, 2016 where people came to learn from resilience pioneers who are actively working to help students, families, institutions, and communities become stronger, healthier, and happier. #HumanResilienceMovement

Dr. John Lyons was invited to speak at the conference. Here are some highlights from his presentation:

The system (of behavioral health) has been traditionally designed to focus on the negative. Although people do not practice this way, the behavioral health system becomes a cyclical method of service where individuals in care have a statistically low percentage of leaving the system.

Even prevention is framed in the negative. Prevention is about stopping something BAD from happening. This has been a disservice to the work because it is extremely difficult to prove that nothing happened because YOU did something.

Traditionally, resilience has been defined as overcoming an adverse experience. But over time it has become clear that it is more about building and using strengths, and so a resilience movement with this new focus has been growing.  The ACES work is a classic example of that problem.What we are finding is that prevention and resilience are about building strengths.  Personal change does happen that can lead to reduce likelihood of bad outcomes, but that change has little to do with that bad outcome.  Focusing and building on one’s strengths (the positive) allows them to be able to better manage the obstacles they may face.

We think of resilience the same way. It needs to be about identifying and building strengths. This is why the item “Resiliency” from the CANS CORE is in the strengths domain.

RESILIENCY: This rating should be based on the youth’s ability to identify and use internal strengths in managing his/her life and in times of need or to support his/her own development. This rating assesses a youth’s ability to “bounce back” from or overcome adversity in his/her life.

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