Topic: Experiential Journeys: Places, Spaces and Quests towards Resilience – Rebecca Graber, University of Sussex

Session summary: We often think about resilience as occurring over time, but what about as a journey through places and spaces?  When we speak of “reaching” or “moving toward” resilience, is this metaphor or something more? Are we lone explorers on this voyage, or bound up with fellow travellers? Are spaces set backdrops, or do they vibrantly shape the contours of experience?  Is resilience a destination (outcome) or a journey (process)? This talk takes a playful and exploratory view of how spaces are experienced as facilitating or inhibiting resilience, drawing upon findings from a thematic analysis of interviews with socioeconomically vulnerable adolescents in Yorkshire.

A phenomenological psychological viewpoint focuses on revealing and describing subjective experiences and meanings. We’ll “map” – conceptually define – the places of resilience identified within these adolescents’ accounts, exploring how challenges and relationships are experienced in physical geographies which roughly correspond to four key physical places: home, a friend’s home, school and community. The talk will suggest that resilience is experienced as developing a meaningful sense, in light of perceived challenge, of space-related essential feelings of dwelling, refuge, playground and path. We’ll explore what these feelings mean to vulnerable adolescents and the implications for a spatial theory of resilience. Perhaps we will engage in some path-finding and map-making of our own.

Biography: Rebecca Graber has a longstanding interest in psychological resilience and strengths-based research. Rebecca is currently researching adolescents’ experiences of moderate alcohol use with Professor Angie Hart and Dr Richard de Visser. Her PhD research at the University of Leeds, under the joint supervision and mentorship of Dr Anna Madill and Professor Rhiannon Turner, has focused on how socio-economically vulnerable adolescents’ close friendships support their developing psychological resilience. A passionate traveller and transplanted North American, she feels she has found a serendipitous “home” in exploring and celebrating people’s shared journeys through experienced adversity.

Most interested: Academics, researchers, parents, practitioners, students, young people.

This session took place on Wednesday 26 June 2013.

The Resilience Forum is for ANYBODY (with a pulse!) involved with or interested in resilience research!

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