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Michael Ungar


“Diagnosing” Resilience Across Cultures and Contexts: Understanding the Impact of Social and Physical Ecologies on Human Development.

About the Presenter:

  • Michael Ungar, Ph.D.
  • Canada Research Chair in Child, Family and Community Resilience
  • Director, Resilience Research Centre
  • Network Director, Children and Youth in Challenging Contexts Network (A Networks of Centres of Excellence)
  • AAMFT Clinical Supervisor
  • Registered Social Worker


“Diagnosing” Resilience Across Cultures and Contexts: Understanding the Impact of Social and Physical Ecologies on Human Development.

Despite a growing interest in resilience among mental health care providers, there remains a need for a theoretically sound way to think about the complex interactions that predict which children will do well when exposed to different levels of adversity. A focus on resilience helps us to understand children’s individual adaptive and maladaptive coping strategies, as well as the social and physical ecologies that facilitate positive development in stressed environments.

Using findings from a series of multi-country studies and case examples of children who have been exposed to high levels of stress such as family violence, mental illness of the child or caregiver, natural disasters, forced migration, poverty, racism and other types of social marginalization, Dr. Ungar will show how we can assess childhood resilience and use that assessment to guide intervention. He will demonstrate that by “diagnosing” resilience, we are in a better position to design treatments that are sensitive to the individual, family, school and community factors that influence a child’s mental health.

Seven factors common to children who cope well under adversity and avoid problems like depression, PTSD, and delinquency will be discussed.
This presentation will also explore ways we can intervene to help children cope by changing their social and physical environments.

Dr. Michael Ungar’s Bio

Dr. Michael Ungar is the founder and Director of the Resilience Research Centre and Canada Research Chair in Child,
Family and Community Resilience at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada.

He received his PhD in Social Work from Wilfrid Laurier University in 1995 and is the former Chair of the Nova Scotia Mental Health and Addictions Strategy, executive board member of the American Family Therapy Academy, and a family therapist who works with mental health services for individuals and families at risk.

His international program of research spanning six continents has changed the way resilience is understood, shifting the focus from individual traits to the interactions between people and their families, schools, workplaces, and communities. He is the author of 14 books that have been translated into five languages, numerous manuals for parents, educators, and employers, as well as more than 150 scientific papers and book chapters.

Dr. Ungar has adapted findings from his research and lessons learned from his clinical practice into best-selling works for professionals and researchers, including books for parents such as Too Safe For Their Own Good: How Risk and Responsibility Help Teens Thrive and I Still Love You: Nine Things Troubled Kids Need from their Parents. His blog Nurturing Resilience appears on Psychology Today’s website.


Resilience Research
Child, Family and Community Resilience
Resilience Across Cultures and Contexts