What Doesn’t Kill You

Correlates of Resilience Among Master of Social Work Students

  • Jacky T. Thomas California State University San Marcos
  • Blake Beecher California State University San Marcos
Keywords: Resilience, Adverse Childhood Experiences, Experiential Avoidance, Perceived Stress, Spirituality, MSW Students, ACEs

Abstract

The purpose of this exploratory study was to examine the relationship between adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and resilience in a sample (n=139) of Masters of Social Work (MSW) students. Perceived stress, religious faith, experiential avoidance, and mindfulness were also examined as correlates of resilience. Resilience scores for the MSW students were comparable to general population and college student norms, but ACEs and perceived stress scores were higher. Despite a broad literature supporting associations of high ACE scores with varied measures of physical and psychological problems, this study paradoxically showed a positive relationship between higher ACE scores and resilience. Regression analysis indicated a model including age, ACE scores, experiential avoidance, religious faith, and perceived stress explained 39.2% of the variance in resilience scores. Prior adverse childhood experiences and stronger religious faith are associated with increased resilience, while experiential avoidance and perceived stress are associated with lower resilience. This study provides further evidence that many students come to social work education with substantial trauma histories and experience considerable stress during their studies. Results suggest that social work educators should acknowledge risks associated with avoidant coping, and provide learning experiences aimed at developing students’ capacities for increased awareness and acceptance of challenging experiences—their own and others.

Author Biographies

Jacky T. Thomas, California State University San Marcos

Assistant Professor of Social Work

Department of Social Work

College of Education, Health & Human Services

California State University San Marcos

San Marcos, CA

Blake Beecher, California State University San Marcos

Associate Professor of Social Work

Department of Social Work

College of Education, Health & Human Services

California State University San Marcos

San Marcos, CA

References

Abdollahi, A., Talib, M. A., Yaacob, S. N., & Ismail, Z. (2014). Hardiness as a mediator between perceived stress and happiness in nurses. Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, 21(9), 789-796. doi: https://doi.org/10.1111/jpm.12142

Abolghasemia, A. & Varaniyaba, S. T. (2010). Resilience and perceived stress: Predictors of life satisfaction in the students of success and failure. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 5, 748-752. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sbspro.2010.07.178

Addonizio, F. P. (2011). Stress, coping, social support, and psychological distress among MSW students. (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from http://scholarcommons.sc.edu/etd/1905

Anda, R. F., Felitti, V. J., Bremner, J. D., Walker, J. D., Whitfield, C., Perry, B. D., . . . Giles, W.H. (2006). The enduring effects of abuse and related adverse experiences in childhood: A convergence of evidence from neurobiology and epidemiology. European Archives of Psychiatry Clinical Neuroscience, 256, 174-186. doi: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00406-005-0624-4

Atkinson, P. A., Martin, C. R., & Rankin, J. (2009). Resilience revisited. Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, 16(2), 137-145. doi: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2850.2008.01341.x

Beddoe, L., Davys, A., & Adamson, C. (2013). Educating resilient practitioners. Social Work Education, 32(1), 100-117. doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/02615479.2011.644532

Black, P. N., Jeffreys, D., & Hartley, E. K. (1993). Personal history of psychosocial trauma in the early life of social work and business students. Journal of Social Work Education, 29(2), 171-180. doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/10437797.1993.10778812

Bond, F. W., Hayes, S. C., Baer, R. A., Carpenter, K. M., Guenole, N., Orcutt, H. K., ... & Zettle, R. D. (2011). Preliminary psychometric properties of the Acceptance and Action Questionnaire-II: A revised measure of psychological inflexibility and experiential avoidance. Behavior Therapy, 42(4), 676-688. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.beth.2011.03.007

Boulanger, J. L., Hayes, S. C., & Pistorello, J. (2009). Experiential avoidance as a functional contextual concept. In A. M. Kring & D. M. Sloan, (Eds.), Emotion regulation and psychopathology: A transdiagnostic approach to etiology and treatment (pp. 107-136). NY: Guilford Press.

Bride, B. E., & Figley, C. (2007). Prevalence of secondary traumatic stress among social workers. Social Work, 52(1), 63-70. doi: https://doi.org/10.1093/sw/52.1.63

Brown, K.W., & Ryan, R.M. (2003). The benefits of being present: Mindfulness and its role in psychological well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84, 822-848. doi: https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.84.4.822

Brown, T. (2012). A psychological examination of the interface between religion, stress and depression. International Review of Social Sciences and Humanities, 4(1), 59-73.

Calhoun, L. G., & Tedeschi, R. G. (2013). Posttraumatic growth in clinical practice. NY: Routledge.

Campbell-Sills, L., Cohan, S. L., & Stein, M. B. (2006). Relationship of resilience to personality, coping, and psychiatric symptoms in young adults. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 44(4), 585-599. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.brat.2005.05.001

Canda, E., Nakashima, M., & Furman, L. D. (2004). Ethical considerations about spirituality in social work: Insights from a national qualitative survey. Families in Society: The Journal of Contemporary Social Services, 85(1), 27-35. doi: https://doi.org/10.1606/1044-3894.256

Carello, J., & Butler, L. D. (2015). Practicing what we teach: Trauma-informed educational practice. Journal of Teaching in Social Work, 35(3), 262-278. doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/08841233.2015.1030059

Center for Youth Wellness. (2013). A hidden crisis: Findings on adverse childhood experiences in California. Retrieved from https://app.box.com/s/nf7lw36bjjr5kdfx4ct9

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2010). Adverse childhood experiences reported by adults—Five states, 2009. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5949a1.htm

Cohen, S., Kamarck, T., & Mermelstein, R. (1983). A global measure of perceived stress. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 24(4), 385-396. doi: https://doi.org/10.2307/2136404

Collins, S., Coffey, M., & Morris, L. (2010). Social work students: Stress, support and well-being. British Journal of Social Work, 40(3), 963-982. doi: https://doi.org/10.1093/bjsw/bcn148

Connor, K. M., & Davidson, J. R. (2003). Development of a new resilience scale: The Connor‐Davidson Resilience Scale (CD‐RISC). Depression and Anxiety, 18(2), 76-82. doi: https://doi.org/10.1002/da.10113

Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale. (n.d.). CDRISC User Guide. Retrieved January 14, 2017, from http://www.cd-risc.com/user-guide.php

Crowder, R., & Sears, A. (2017). Building resilience in social workers: An exploratory study on the impacts of a mindfulness-based intervention. Australian Social Work, 70(1), 17-29. doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/0312407X.2016.1203965

Dube, S. R., Williamson, D. F., Thompson, T., Felitti, V. J., & Anda, R. F. (2004). Assessing the reliability of retrospective reports of adverse childhood experiences among adult HMO members attending a primary care clinic. Child Abuse & Neglect, 28(7), 729-737. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chiabu.2003.08.009

DuMont, K. A., Widom, C. S., & Czaja, S. J. (2007). Predictors of resilience in abused and neglected children grown-up: The role of individual and neighborhood characteristics. Child Abuse & Neglect, 31(3), 255-274. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chiabu.2005.11.015

Dykes, G. (2011). The implications of adverse childhood experiences for the professional requirements of social work. Social Work/Maatskaplike Werk, 47(4), 521-533.

Eriksson, C. B., & Yeh, D. (2012). Grounded transcendence: Resilience to trauma through spirituality and religion. In K. Gow & M. J. Celinski (Eds.), Individual trauma: Recovering from deep wounds and exploring the potential for renewal (pp. 53-71). Hauppauge, NY, US: Nova Science Publishers.

Esaki, N., & Larkin, H. (2013). Prevalence of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) among child service providers. Families in Society: The Journal of Contemporary Social Services, 94 (1), 31-37. doi: https://doi.org/10.1606/1044-3894.4257

Felitti, V. J., Anda, R. F., Nordenberg, D., Williamson, D. F., Spitz, A. M., Edwards, V., …Marks, J. S. (1998). Relationship of childhood abuse and household dysfunction to many of the leading causes of death in adults. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 14(4), 245-258. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/S0749-3797(98)00017-8

Friedlander, L. J., Reid, G. J., Shupak, N., & Cribbie, R. (2007). Social support, self-esteem, and stress as predictors of adjustment to university among first-year undergraduates. Journal of College Student Development, 48(3), 259-274. doi: https://doi.org/10.1353/csd.2007.0024

Galantino, M. L., Vaime, M., Maguire, M., Szapary, P., & Farrar, J. (2005). Short communication: Association of psychological and physiological measures of stress in health-care professionals during an 8-week mindfulness meditation program: Mindfulness in practice. Stress and Health, 21, 255-261. doi: https://doi.org/10.1002/smi.1062

Grant, L. (2014). Hearts and minds: Aspects of empathy and wellbeing in social work students. Social Work Education, 33(3), 338-352. doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/02615479.2013.805191

Grant, L., & Kinman, G. (2012). Enhancing wellbeing in social work students: Building resilience in the next generation. Social Work Education, 31(5), 605-621. doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/02615479.2011.590931

Grant, L., & Kinman, G. (Eds.). (2014). Developing resilience for social work practice. Palgrave: Macmillan.

Greene, R. R. (2008). Risk and resilience theory: A social work perspective. In R. R. Greene (Ed.), Human behavior theory and social work practice (3rd ed., pp. 315-342). New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction.

Hayes, S. C., Wilson, K. G., Gifford, E. V., Follette, V. M., & Strosahl, K. (1996). Experiential avoidance and behavioral disorders: A functional dimensional approach to diagnosis and treatment. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 64(6), 1152-1168. doi: https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-006X.64.6.1152

Howard, A. R. H., Parris, S., Hall, J. S., Call, C. D., Razuri, E. B., Purvis, K. B., & Cross, D. R. (2015). An examination of the relationships between professional quality of life, adverse childhood experiences, resilience, and work environment in a sample of human service providers. Children and Youth Services Review, 57, 141-148. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.childyouth.2015.08.003

Javanmard, G. H. (2013). Religious beliefs and resilience in academic students. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 84, 744-748. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sbspro.2013.06.638

Kabat-Zinn, J. (1994). Wherever you go, there you are: Mindfulness meditation in everyday life. New York: Hyperion.

Kamya, H. A. (2000). Hardiness and spiritual well-being among social work students: Implications for social work education. Journal of Social Work Education, 36(2), 231-240. doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/10437797.2000.10779004

Kapoulitsas, M., & Corcoran, T. (2014). Compassion fatigue and resilience: A qualitative analysis of social work practice. Qualitative Social Work, 19(4), 255-269. doi: https://doi.org/10.1177/1473325014528526

Kemper, K. J., Mo, X., & Khayat, R. (2015). Are mindfulness and self-compassion associated with sleep and resilience in health professionals? Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 21(8), 496-503. doi: https://doi.org/10.1089/acm.2014.0281

Kinman, G., & Grant, L. (2011). Exploring stress resilience in trainee social workers: The role of emotional and social competencies. British Journal of Social Work, 41(2), 261-275. doi: https://doi.org/10.1093/bjsw/bcq088

Koenig, H. G., George, L. K., & Peterson, B. L. (1998). Religiosity and remission of depression in medically ill older patients. American Journal of Psychiatry, 155, 536-542. doi: https://doi.org/10.1176/ajp.155.4.536

Krasner, M. S., Epstein, R. M., Beckman, H., Suchman, A. L., Chapman, B., …& Quill, T. E. (2009). Association of an educational program in mindful communication with burnout, empathy, and attitudes among primary care physicians. Journal of the American Medical Association, 302(12), 1284-1293. doi: https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.2009.1384

Larkin, H., Shields, J. J., & Anda, R. F. (2012). The health and social consequences of adverse childhood experiences (ACE) across the lifespan: An introduction to prevention and intervention in the community. Journal of Prevention & Intervention in the Community, 40(4), 263-270. doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/10852352.2012.707439

Lazarus, R., & Folkman, S. (1984). Stress, appraisal and coping. New York: Springer.

Lee, B. J. (2007). Moderating effects of religious/spiritual coping in the relation between perceived stress and psychological well-being. Pastoral Psychology, 55(6), 751-759. doi: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11089-007-0080-3

Luthar, S. S., Cicchetti, D., & Becker, B. (2000). The construct of resilience: A critical evaluation and guidelines for future work. Child Development, 71(3), 543-562. doi: https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-8624.00164

Marcus, S., & Dubi, M. (2006). The relationship between resilience and compassion fatigue in counselors. In G.R. Walz, J.C. Breuer, & R.K. Yep, (Eds), Vistas: Compelling perspectives on counseling (pp 223- 225). Alexandria, VA: American Counseling Association.

McCann, I. L., & Pearlman, L. A. (1992). Constructivist self-development theory: A theoretical framework for assessing and treating traumatized college students. Journal of American College Health, 40(4), 189-196. doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/07448481.1992.9936281

McGavock, L., & Spratt, T. (2014). Prevalence of adverse childhood experiences in a university population: Associations with use of social services. British Journal of Social Work, 44(3), 657-674. doi: https://doi.org/10.1093/bjsw/bcs127

Moore, R. C., Eyler, L. T., Mausbach, B. T., Zlatar, Z. Z., Thompson, W. K., Peavy, G., & ... Jeste, D. V. (2015). Complex interplay between health and successful aging: Role of perceived stress, resilience, and social support. American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 23(6), 622-632. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jagp.2014.08.004

Mróz, J. (2015). Predictive roles of coping and resilience for the perceived stress in nurses. Progress In Health Sciences, 5(2), 77-84.

Nurius, P. S., Green, S., Logan-Greene, P., & Borjaa, S. (2015). Life course pathways of adverse childhood experiences toward adult psychological well-being: A stress process analysis. Child Abuse & Neglect, 45, 143-153. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chiabu.2015.03.008

Pardini, D. A., Plante, T. G., Sherman, A., & Stump, J. E. (2000). Religious faith and spirituality in substance abuse recovery: Determining the mental health benefits. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 19(4), 347-354. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/S0740-5472(00)00125-2

Plante, T. G., Vallaeys, C. L., Sherman, A. C., & Wallston, K. A. (2002). The development of a brief version of the Santa Clara Strength of Religious Faith Questionnaire. Pastoral Psychology, 50(5), 359-368. doi: https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1014413720710

Richardson, G. E. (2002). The metatheory of resilience and resiliency. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 58(3), 307-321. doi: https://doi.org/10.1002/jclp.10020

Robotham, D., & Julian, C. (2006). Stress and the higher education student: A critical review of the literature. Journal of Further and Higher Education, 30(02), 107-117. doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/03098770600617513

Rompf, E. L., & Royse, D. (1994). Choice of social work as a career: Possible influences. Journal of Social Work Education, 30(2), 163-171. doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/10437797.1994.10672227

Roulston, A., Montgomery, L., Campbell, A., & Davidson, G. (2017). Exploring the impact of mindfulnesss on mental wellbeing, stress and resilience of undergraduate social work students. Social Work Education, 37, 1-16. doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/02615479.2017.1388776

Rutter, M. (2006). Implications of resilience concepts for scientific understanding. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1094(1), 1-12. doi: https://doi.org/10.1196/annals.1376.002

Rutter, M. (2007). Resilience, competence, and coping. Child Abuse & Neglect, 31(3), 205-209. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chiabu.2007.02.001

Rutter, M. (2013). Annual research review: Resilience-clinical implications. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 54(4), 474-487. doi: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-7610.2012.02615.x

Seyedfatemia, N., Pourafzalb, F., Inanlooc, M., & Haghani, H. (2015). Perceived-stress and resilience in nursing students. European Psychiatry, 30(S1), 28-31. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/S0924-9338(15)30787-2

Shapiro, S. L., Brown, K. W., & Astin, J. A. (2008). Toward the integration of meditation into higher education: A review of research. Center for Contemplative Mind in Society. Retrieved from http://www.contemplativemind.org/admin/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/MedandHigherEd.pdf

Thomas, J. (2013). Association of personal distress with burnout and compassion fatigue among clinical social workers. Journal of Social Service Research, 39(3), 365-379. doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/01488376.2013.771596

Thomas, J. (2016). Adverse childhood experiences among MSW students. Journal of Teaching in Social Work, 36(3), 235-255. doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/08841233.2016.1182609

Thompson, R. W., Arnkoff, D. B., & Glass, C. R. (2011). Conceptualizing mindfulness and acceptance as components of psychological resilience to trauma. Trauma, Violence, & Abuse, 12(4), 220-235. doi: https://doi.org/10.1177/1524838011416375

Wells, A., & Sembi, S. (2004). Metacognitive therapy for PTSD: A preliminary investigation of a new brief treatment. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 35(4), 307-318. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbtep.2004.07.001

Wilks, S. E. (2008). Resilience amid academic stress: The moderating impact of social support among social work students. Advances in Social Work, 9(2), 106-125.

Willis, K. D., & Burnett, H. J. (2016). The power of stress: Perceived stress and its relationship with rumination, self-concept clarity, and resilience. North American Journal of Psychology, 18(3), 483-498.

Yehuda, R., & Flory, J. D. (2007). Differentiating biological correlates of risk, PTSD, and resilience following trauma exposure. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 20(4), 435-437. doi: https://doi.org/10.1002/jts.20260

Zosky, D. L. (2013). Wounded healers: Graduate students with histories of trauma in a family violence course. Journal of Teaching in Social Work, 33(3), 239-250. doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/08841233.2013.795923

Published
2019-01-02
Section
Articles