What It Means To Leverage Adversity


Today there is no shortage of adversity. In fact, recent data from the National Institute of Mental Health reports that six out of ten women and five out of ten men will face one or more major crises in their lifetime. And when they do, there will be plenty of resources – from self-help books to websites, podcasts, and “coaches” – to help them quickly move past it. Yet, the question remains, is moving past adversity quickly really the best approach?

Self-help gurus, sports coaches, and the media tell us that we should minimize our setbacks, overcome adversity, and quickly bounce back from failure. That should we miss our mark, make a mistake, say the wrong thing, wear the wrong clothes, or show up to the wrong meeting – all things quite possible – we should not waste any time getting right back on track. These mishaps should be reframed, filed away, overcome, or – whatever self-help lingo we may want to insert here – moved past. Even catastrophic events – the kind that shatter our very fundamental beliefs and assumptions about ourselves, the world, and everything we know – should be quickly overcome. Our resilience depends on it, or so we are told.

Yet for all of this talk about bouncing back from our setbacks, are we shortchanging ourselves? Is there something we can learn from adversity, struggle, or strife? Is it possible that struggling with what ails, confuses, derails, and even shatters us offers us something? In searching for new meaning in the aftermath of trauma, can we also find a way to cope that goes much further than providing us protection – known as resilience – against further setbacks? Maybe in the struggle, and not necessarily the victory, there is something to be learned, strength to be gained, skills to be perfected, and confidence to be reinforced. Should the victory come too quickly, perhaps we also become too focused on simply getting past the struggle and miss the opportunity that the good fight offers us. We may also place value on the very thing that causes us to lose focus. Perhaps in concentrating too intently on the victory, we are forgetting the journey.

Because the journey is not the victory and, in fact, may be nothing like victory. Instead, the journey may be rife with misses, failures, setbacks, disappointments, and defeats. It may also include tremendous joy, exultation, and reverie. The journey, like anything else, will include both highs and lows, and sometimes one will come right after the other. The hope is that for all of life’s challenges and moments of glory, there will also be growth.

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Course excerpt from Leveraging Adversity: Turning Setbacks into Springboards, a 6-hour online continuing education (CE) course that gives clinicians the tools they need to help their clients face adversity from a growth perspective and learn how to use setbacks to spring forward, and ignite growth.

While clients can seek the help of a psychotherapist for numerous reasons, one thing that all clients face is adversity. Whether in their own lives, or within the training program itself, adversity and setbacks are inevitable. And how clients handle adversity often colors not just their ability to move past it, but also their success in therapy. Packed with the most recent data on post-traumatic growth, behavioral economics, and evolutionary psychology, this course begins with a look at just what setbacks are and how they affect us. Clinicians are then introduced to the concept of “leveraging adversity,” that is, using it to make critical reconsiderations, align values with behavior, and face challenges with a growth mindset. The course then addresses the five core strengths of leveraging adversity – gratitude, openness, personal strength (growth mindset), connection, and belief – and provides numerous exercises and skills for clinicians to use with clients. Included are 25 separate handouts clinicians can give to clients to cement core concepts from the course. Course #61-03 | 2018 | 92 pages | 35 posttest questions

Professional Development Resources is a nonprofit educational corporation 501(c)(3) organized in 1992. We are approved to sponsor continuing education by the American Psychological Association (APA); the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA); the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR); the Alabama State Board of Occupational Therapy; the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy, Psychology & School Psychology, Dietetics & Nutrition, Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, and Occupational Therapy Practice; the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board and Board of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology; the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs; the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists and State Board of Social Worker Examiners; and are CE Broker compliant (all courses are reported within a few days of completion).

Target Audience: PsychologistsCounselorsSocial WorkersMarriage & Family Therapist (MFTs)Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs)Occupational Therapists (OTs)Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs)School Psychologists, and Teachers

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