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Strengths-Based Counseling With At-Risk Youth

Identify and promote the overlooked strengths of at-risk youth to cultivate their hidden resilience.

This lively and engaging book offers a positive approach to preventing individual and schoolwide tragedy through respectful and realistic counseling interventions. Innovative, compassionate methods can be found in:

  • Six strategies for youth engagement, covering common problem behaviors such as drug use, violence, delinquency, and promiscuity
  • An entire chapter on bullying
  • An abundance of real-life examples and counseling narratives
  • A Resilient Youth Strengths Inventory to assess and identify areas that need strengthening

Full description

Product Details
  • Grade Level: PreK-12
  • ISBN: 9781412928205
  • Published By: Corwin
  • Year: 2006
  • Page Count: 144
  • Publication date: March 06, 2006

Price: $32.95



"An eye-opening and heart-opening book."
-Bonnie Benard, Senior Program Associate, WestEd

Identify and promote overlooked strengths to cultivate resilience.

Now more than ever, counselors, teachers, community youth workers, and parents are striving to prevent individual and school-wide tragedy before it happens. Critical to the success of their efforts is a deep respect for the adolescent experience. In this book, author and social worker Michael Ungar takes a fresh, hopeful approach to challenging youth by looking beyond the surface of "bad" behaviors to understand them as ways of coping with life's adversities.

Strengths-Based Counseling With At-Risk Youth provides the tools both to understand and access strengths buried beneath problem behaviors. It offers specific, effective strategies in working with adolescents to construct positive identities and realistic action plans. Features include

  • Six strategies for youth engagement, covering common problem behaviors such as drug use, violence, delinquency, and promiscuity
  • An entire chapter on bullying
  • An abundance of real-life examples and counseling narratives
  • A Resilient Youth Strengths Inventory to assess resilience and identify areas that need strengthening

Sincere application of Ungar's compassionate and open-minded strategies is sure to transform the lives of countless adolescents in need, and the institutions that serve them.

Key features

  • Focuses on recognizing and developing strengths, rather than correcting bad behaviors
  • Offers realistic alternatives that encourage at-risk youth to take advantage of new, healthy opportunities
  • Loads of real-life examples and counseling narratives
  • Provides tools to assess individual resilience and areas that need strengthening
  • Applies author's 6 strategies to common problem behaviors, such as bullying, drug use, and promiscuity



Michael Ungar photo

Michael Ungar

Michael Ungar received a Ph.D. in Social Work from Wilfred Laurier University in 1995. He is currently an Associate Professor in the Maritime School of Social Work at Dalhousie University, Canada. He has published articles in such journals as Adolescence, Youth & Society, Qualitative Social Work, Social Service Review, the Journal of Systemic Therapies, and Child & Youth Care Forum. Dr. Ungar has been researching, writing, and teaching about resilience among youth for ten years in Canada, the U.S., Hong Kong, and Columbia. He oversees a federally funded international research project involving collaboration among researchers in eleven sites on five continents exploring similarities and differences in how resilience is understood, studied, and nurtured. As part of this, he will soon embark on a tour of Israel, England, Russia, and Tanzania. He recently presented two papers detailing his work at an international qualitative methods conference hosted by Sage and the International Institute for Qualitative Methods. He has a well-established international network of colleagues in this field across many disciplines, and many will be contributors to this volume.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents



About the Author

Chapter 1. Surviving and Thriving

The Many Ways Youth Survive

Three Survival Strategies, Three Identities

Power and Self-Definition

Substitution as Intervention

Narrative Interventions

Powerful Alternatives

Chapter 2. Three Identities: Pandas, Chameleons, and Leopards

The Stuck Panda

The Uncertain Chameleon

The Demanding Leopard

Pegs and Holes

Chapter 3. Six Strategies for Nurturing Resilience

Overview of the Six Strategies

Paths to Resilience: Conventional and Unconventional

Strategy 1: Hear Their Truth

Chapter 4. From Truth to Action: Implementing Strategies Two Through Five

Strategy 2: Help Youth Look Critically at Their Behavior

Strategy 3: Create Opportunities That Fit With What Youth Say They Need

Strategy 4: Speak In Ways Youth Will Hear and Respect

Strategy 5: Find the Difference That Counts the Most

Chapter 5. The Many Expressions of Youth Resilience

Strategy 6: Substitute Rather Than Suppress

Substitutions for Drug Use

Substitutions for Other At-Risk Behaviors

The Many Expressions of Resilience

Chapter 6. A New Way to Look at Bullying

Bullying as Coping: Jake

Bullying and the Three Identities

Providing Opportunities for Adaptation

Substitutions for Bullies

Substitutions for Victims

Chapter 7. Assessing Resilience

The Resilient Youth Strengths Inventory

Evaluating Fairly

Chapter 8. Translating the Results of the Resilient Youth Strengths Inventory

Pandas Shoot

Chameleons Score

Leopards Win

Using Results to Inform Our Efforts

Conclusion: The Need for Change





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