Date of Award

2009

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (MSW)

Department

Social Work

Supervisor

Sheila Sammon

Language

English

Abstract

Resilience research forms the basis of this study examining first person accounts of youth in and alumni youth from care. Resilience opportunities are strengthened when the various systems supporting children and youth work in interconnected and cross-buttressed ways to promote positive coping and healthy development post adversity. It can be challenging to cull meaningful child welfare interventions from the literature's complexity that are not overly simplified or reductionist. This study is predicated on the idea that making adjustments to an existing practice of compiling life books for children and youth in care could be a forum for translating the complexities of resilience research into a therapeutic storytelling intervention. A narrative approach is taken to examine, explore, listen to and learn from a collection of resilience themed stories produced by Youth in Care Canada. Analysis includes an examination of the personal and political implications of identity formation; the empowerment and emotional healing potential in storytelling; and the power of the stories to alter social discourses. The study finds that a storytelling process has the potential to palliate healing in identities that transform from victims of adversity to persons of agency in recovery. Resilience research's main message that sustained supports strengthen opportunities for resilience is upheld. Resilient youth reconfigure the neo liberal ethos of individuality and self reliance into a stance of self determination dependent on the ongoing support of others. The stories are persuasive in widening discourses with the ideas that youth in and from care can meet the criteria for mainstream membership; and, further, youth do not have to overcome their harm to function well - halm and healing can co-exist. The study ultimately supports the recommendation that a storytelling process be implemented in the child welfare system to foster increased opportunities for resilience.

McMaster University Library

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