By Claire Dorotik-Nana, LMFT @pdresources.org
Before Angela Duckworth began her research on grit, she was a teacher. Among the many things that Duckworth noticed with her children was that, when facing challenges, some fare much better than others. Naturally Duckworth became curious about what separated the children who met challenges with perseverance and determination from those who seemed to back down.
Of all of the factors that Duckworth studied – from economic backgrounds, to race, culture, and gender – the one factor that defined a child’s success most significantly was grit. Grit, in Duckworth’s words, is defined as, “a perseverance and passion for long term goals, as well as zeal and persistence of motive and effort.” For Duckworth, grit is conceptualized as a stable trait that does not require immediate positive feedback.
Often the difference between children with and without grit can be seen immediately in their response to setbacks. While children without grit give up easily, children with grit persevere, and try harder after a setback. Ultimately, it is their long term persistence that leads to success, as evidenced by Duckworth’s study of West Point graduates. Among all factors from grade point average, standardized test scores, and even a family history of success, grit emerged as the one strongest predictive factor of success among West Point graduates.
Grit matters. But for many clinicians working with young clients, the question is: How do you build grit and resilience? Are there exercises that can be done or skills that can learned?
The answer is yes. Thanks to the work of Penn State Psychology Professor and former APA President, Martin Seligman, there are several cognitive, social, and problem solving skills that build and promote lifelong resilience.
Through learning to think more flexibly, avoiding cognitive traps, and acting in proactive and self-efficacious ways, clients can become not just more resilient and gritty, but ultimately more successful.
Related Online Continuing Education (CE) Courses:
Building Resilience in your Young Client is a 3-hour online continuing education (CE/CEU) course that offers a wide variety of resilience interventions that can be used in therapy, school, and home settings. It has long been observed that there are certain children who experience better outcomes than others who are subjected to similar adversities, and a significant amount of literature has been devoted to the question of why this disparity exists. Research has largely focused on what has been termed “resilience.” Health professionals are treating an increasing number of children who have difficulty coping with 21st century everyday life. Issues that are hard to deal with include excessive pressure to succeed in school, bullying, divorce, or even abuse at home. This course provides a working definition of resilience and descriptions of the characteristics that may be associated with better outcomes for children who confront adversity in their lives. It also identifies particular groups of children – most notably those with developmental challenges and learning disabilities – who are most likely to benefit from resilience training. Course #30-98 | 2017 | 53 pages | 20 posttest questions
Active Listening: Techniques that Work for Children and Parents is a 3-hour online continuing education (CE/CEU) course that offers a valuable compilation of practical and ready-to-use strategies and techniques for achieving more effective communication through active listening. One of the fundamental tools of clinicians who work effectively with children and adolescents is the art of listening. Without this set of skills, clinicians are likely to miss essential pieces of information their clients are trying to communicate to them, whether with words or with behavior. When the word “active” is added to “listening” it alters and amplifies the communication process to include a dynamic feedback loop in which the speaker and the listener validate that each party has been accurately heard. Appropriate use of listening skills by a clinician can increase self-esteem in young clients and motivate them to learn. Using active listening skills, clinicians become more confident and manage their therapy and counseling sessions with a broader and mutually respectful dialogue. This course will teach clinicians how to employ innovative and practical communication and conversational skills in their individual and group therapy sessions with clients and their families, as well as in their working relationships with other professionals. These techniques can be applied to a wide variety of clinical, classroom and home situations, and case examples are included. Also included are sections on positive thinking and resilience, problem-solving skills, and the communication of emotion. Course #30-90 | 2017 | 70 pages | 20 posttest questions
Suicide Prevention: Evidence-Based Strategies is a 3-hour online continuing education (CE) course that reviews evidence-based research and offers strategies for screening, assessment, treatment, and prevention of suicide in both adolescents and adults. Suicide is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. In 2015, 44,193 people killed themselves. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes, “Suicide is a serious but preventable public health problem that can have lasting harmful effects on individuals, families, and communities.” People who attempt suicide but do not die face potentially serious injury or disability, depending on the method used in the attempt. Depression and other mental health issues follow the suicide attempt. Family, friends, and coworkers are negatively affected by suicide. Shock, anger, guilt, and depression arise in the wake of this violent event. Even the community as a whole is affected by the loss of a productive member of society, lost wages not spent at local businesses, and medical costs. The CDC estimates that suicides result in over 44 billion dollars in work loss and medical costs. Prevention is key: reducing risk factors and promoting resilience. This course will provide a review of evidence-based studies so that healthcare professionals are informed on this complex subject. Information from the suicide prevention technical package from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will be provided. Included also are strategies for screening and assessment, prevention considerations, methods of treatment, and resources for choosing evidence-based suicide prevention programs. Course #30-97 | 2017 | 60 pages | 20 posttest questions
These online courses provide instant access to the course materials (PDF download) and CE test. After enrolling, click on My Account and scroll down to My Active Courses. From here you’ll see links to download/print the course materials and take the CE test (you can print the test to mark your answers on it while reading the course document). Successful completion of the online CE test (80% required to pass, 3 chances to take) and course evaluation are required to earn a certificate of completion.
Professional Development Resources is approved to sponsor continuing education by the American Psychological Association (APA); the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC ACEP #5590); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB Provider #1046, ACE Program); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA Provider #3159); the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA Provider #AAUM); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR Provider #PR001); the Alabama State Board of Occupational Therapy; the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy (#BAP346), Psychology & School Psychology (#50-1635), Dietetics & Nutrition (#50-1635), Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, and Occupational Therapy Practice (#34); the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board (#RCST100501) and the Board of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology; the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs (#193); and the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists (#114) and State Board of Social Worker Examiners (#5678).