Resilience to reoffending: mechanisms supporting young men to overcome adversity


Stubbs, C. 2014. Resilience to reoffending: mechanisms supporting young men to overcome adversity. Thesis Middlesex University and Metanoia Institute School of Health and Education
TitleResilience to reoffending: mechanisms supporting young men to overcome adversity
AuthorsStubbs, C.

This study investigated the mechanisms supporting young men’s resilience to reoffending. Resilience was defined as “the outcome from negotiations between individuals and their environments for the resources to define themselves as healthy amidst conditions collectively viewed as adverse” (Ungar, 2004a, p.32). The philosophical approach was critical realist (Bhaskar, 1978) and the methodology used was narrative enquiry, employing content analysis (Lieblich et al., 1998) to elicit mechanisms from the data. Eight young men with previous involvement in the criminal justice system were recruited from organisations in Hastings, East Sussex. They participated in a narrative interview which explored their life stories and the mechanisms utilised to change their offending trajectory. The study used Hart and Blincow’s Resilient Therapy (RT) Framework (2007), to categorise the data. Mechanisms within the framework, located within categories such as Basics, Belonging, Learning, Core Self and Coping, were applied to the young men’s experience, to understand the application of RT in promoting resilience to reoffending. All categories of RT were pertinent in nurturing their pathways to resilience. Further analysis of the data elicited additional resilient mechanisms absent within RT. Proposed additions included Clothes within the Basics compartment, and Humour, an important mechanism facilitating coping and affiliation, included within the Belonging and Coping compartments. Social capital was instrumental to the young men’s resilience, providing them with essential coping resources; a further recommendation was to rename the Belonging compartment “social capital”. This research challenges common discourses of risk. The young men demonstrated how the experiences and environments where they encountered risk were important in cultivating their resilience to reoffending. Within counselling psychology, this reinforces the notion of focusing on the subjective experience of the individual, embracing uncertainty, bracketing assumptions and extending traditional boundaries when promoting resilience with vulnerable young men. This study corroborated existing research demonstrating resilience as the outcome of both individual and social processes (Luthar and Cicchetti, 2000; Prilleltensky, 2005; Hart and Blincow, 2007). With respect to counselling psychology practice it presents a challenge to individualised therapeutic interventions, encouraging counselling psychologists to become active participants in changing the social systems that impact on an individual’s resilience, reconciling their roles as healers with their role as change agents. RT (Hart and Blincow, 2007) provides a systemic application of mechanisms targeting both micro- and macro-level processes, offering an extension to counselling psychology practice necessary to promote resilience to reoffending.

Department nameSchool of Health and Education
Institution nameMiddlesex University and Metanoia Institute
Publication dates
Print16 Sep 2014
Publication process dates
Deposited16 Sep 2014
Output statusPublished
Accepted author manuscript
Additional information

DCPSYCH Counselling Psychology and Psychotherapy.

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