A young person’s beliefs, expectations and values can be instrumental in how they approach and experience crises.
Young people found to be resilient consistently report that faith and hope have sustained them through adversity (Masten, 2009). Young people are more likely to hold this view when they believe in their own efficacy and/or the efficacy of others (such as parents or practitioners) in dealing with crisis situations.
Self-efficacy has been demonstrated to be a predictor of better adjustment through periods of crisis. Young people with a strong internal locus of control are likely to believe in their ability to work through crises and be motivated to do so. Many youth AOD clients who are unable to trust the systems and people (often because of past experiences) are likely to experience greater distress and be overwhelmed more easily.
This is well illustrated by Robinson and Miller (2010), who use the work of Dwyer and colleagues (2010) to highlight that some young people “…do not expect to be cared for when most vulnerable because this is what their experience has taught them. Therefore, they may respond with an over-determined threat response, such as aggression or avoidance” (p37). Appropriate nurturance and care can soothe young people’s distress and guide them in ways to express it more constructively. Self-esteem has also been identified as a safeguard against psychological discomfort resulting from disparaging life circumstances. Many young people exposed to abuse and also family conflict and breakdown tend to blame themselves, which contributes to low self-esteem. This tendency can be generalised by clients who might blame themselves for other crises, further reinforcing negative self-appraisals. Conversely, helping a young person to put experiences in context and more accurately attribute responsibility among those involved can help repair self-esteem.
Crisis can trigger a strong emotional response that is reflected in a young person’s affect and influences underlying mood state. In turn, a young person’s affect is likely to influence others and either exacerbate or reduce the crisis; their mood will often determine how and if they choose to respond.
Together with mood, a sense of security and belonging can increase the likelihood that a young person will work towards finding constructive solutions to crises.
Summary of relevant resources and assets
- Sense of security (coherence)
- Sense of belonging & connectedness (feeling connection to something greater than oneself)
- Hope & expectancy
- Mood & affect
- Core cognitive schemas about self & the world that support coping & resilience