Resilience Based Practice: an overview
Resilience Based Practice is geared toward young people developing the capacity to face, overcome and even be strengthened by life’s adversities. This represents a major departure from deficit-focused models that dominated earlier practices and policies for young people (Masten, 2009).

Resilience based services and practitioners frame positive goals for their work with young people. This does not mean that risks, symptoms, vulnerabilities, and disorders are ignored but rather that assets and strengths are assessed and strategies are aimed at reducing risk, increasing resources, and/or mobilising adaptive systems.

Resilience Based Practice emphasises young people’s social and emotional well-being and synthesises lines of evidence from both resilience and developmental health research. The aims of Resilience Based Intervention, and the central assumptions on which it is based, are aligned philosophically with the harm reduction and health promotion movements. Resilience based Youth AOD services and practitioners concentrate on enabling young people to increase control over their own health and well-being and therefore be in position to make changes in their substance-using behaviour.

Substance use problems are often associated with heightened vulnerability and exposure to risk. Responsibility for finding solutions should not reside solely with the young person. For this reason effective youth AOD services and practitioners create the conditions that nurture and support the development of resilience and to the capacity of young people to exert more control over their substance using behaviour. This takes account of the evidence that young people tend to invest strongly in the notion that for them, using is an active choice.

A young person’s capacity to be resilient can be protected by altering exposure to risk, influencing the experience of risk, averting chain reactions of negative experience and fostering healthy adaptation and growth. This reflects a “…a concern with the young person in the present as well as the young person as a future adult” (Hamilton & Redmond, 2010; p5) From a youth AOD perspective this means both an emphasis on reducing or removing the both the immediate harms associated with substance and its long term impact on young people’s development and future prospects.

AOD services can maximise the possibility that young people will make healthy and developmentally constructive choices by working closely with them to establish viable alternatives to substance use as a way of meeting needs and responding to unresolved underlying issues that cause distress. The intention is to decrease their reliance on substance use so that rather than being a necessity it becomes one option for coping among a range of others. This can require services to offer access to structured environments and supportive working relationships that provide clients with the resources and experiences required to stabilise and begin working through their substance related issues.