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About Michael Ungar
Michael Ungar, Ph.D., is both a family therapist and a Killam Professor of Social Work at Dalhousie University. He is currently the Network Director of the Children and Youth in Challenging Contexts Network and founder and Co-Director of the Resilience Research Centre that coordinates more than five million dollars in funded research in a dozen countries. That research is focused on resilience among children, youth and families and how they together survive adversity in culturally diverse ways.
Michael has published over 100 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters on resilience and is the author of 13 books including The Social Worker, his first novel. Among his books for professionals are Working with Children and Youth with Complex Needs: 20 Skills to Build Resilience; The Social Ecology of Resilience: A Handbook for Theory and Practice; and Counseling in Challenging Contexts: Working with Individuals and Families Across Clinical and Community Settings. He also writes for parents and educators. Among his most recent works are I Still Love You: Nine Things Troubled Kids Need From Their Parents; We Generation: Raising Socially Responsible Children and Teens; and Too Safe For Their Own Good: How Risk and Responsibility Help Teens Thrive.
In addition to his research and writing, Michael maintains a small family therapy practice in association with Phoenix Youth Programs, a prevention program for street youth and their families, and was the recipient of the 2012 Canadian Association of Social Workers National Distinguished Service Award. His work has been featured in numerous magazines (Reader's Digest, Body and Soul, Today's Parent) and newspapers (Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, USA Today) around the world, and he regularly appears on radio and television. Among his many contributions to his community has been his role as Co-Chair of the Nova Scotia Mental Health and Addictions Strategy Advisory Committee.
His blog, Nurturing Resilience, can be read on Psychology Today's website at www.psychologytoday.com/blog/nurturing-resilience
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Books By Michael Ungar
How much do grit and positive thinking matter when the world around you is starved of support and opportunity?
Finally, a book that explains why self-help gurus and motivational speakers mostly fail to deliver, and what really produces results.
“Michael Ungar’s Change Your World shows that recovery, functioning and positive change in the face of adversity is not a lonely path trod by individuals; here lies the personal and social transformative power of resilience.”
– Joel Reyes, Sr. Education and Institutional Development Specialist, World Bank
The entire self-improvement industry puts the responsibility for change on us as individuals, producing few if any long-term changes in our health or happiness. In this mind-bending look at what the science of resilience teaches us about success, Dr. Michael Ungar shows that individual growth depends very little on what we think, feel, or behave. Dr. Ungar is one of the world's leading experts on thriving through adversity. Delving into the latest research, he demonstrates that the ethic of rugged individualism and the victim-blaming politics that come with it are red herrings in the science of success.
Dr. Ungar explores reals lives, across age and culture, and discovers that the answers lie in the people and the support systems around us. Supportive spouses, caring families, nurturing employers, and effective governments are very often the difference between individual success and failure. The good news is that it is easier to change your environment than it is to change yourself. Indeed, Dr. Ungar has solid evidence that we can influence the world around us in ways that will make us more resilient both at home and on the job.
Ungar's thought-provoking book is both wise and practical. All of us parents, therapists and educators who work with adolescents will benefit from his ideas on what teenagers require for optimal growth. This is a paradigm-shifting book.' - Mary Pipher, author of Reviving Ophelia
While our kids are safer now than they have ever been, we are constantly fearful for them. We drive them everywhere, organise their time, and cocoon them from every imaginable danger, assuming we're doing the right thing. Even when they are teenagers we continue to manage their lives. Without intending to, we may be holding back their development.
In this ground-breaking new book, internationally renowned family therapist and social worker Michael Ungar shows why our constant need to keep our kids safe often puts them in harm's way. By protecting them from failure and disappointment, challenge and responsibility, many of our children are missing out on the benefits that come with manageable amounts of risk.
Accessible, inspiring and practical, Too Safe For Their Own Good helps concerned parents set appropriate limits and provides concrete suggestions for allowing children the chance to experience the rites of passage that will help them become competent, happy, thriving adults.
Family therapist Michael Ungar, internationally renowned for his work on child and youth resilience, takes us into his world each Wednesday, when he meets with three families with very troubled children. Here, Michael shares a side of himself that is not the all-knowing therapist: he too was a troubled teen, growing up in an emotionally and physically abusive home.
In the book, Michael shares nine things that all troubled kids need from their parents that will help them turn their lives around and flourish:
- Parent-child connections
- Lots of peer and adult relationships
- A powerful identity
- A sense of control
- A sense of belonging, spirituality, and life purpose
- Fair and just treatment by others
- Safety and support
Hopeful in tone, and using knowledge gathered from Michael’s work around the world, I Still Love You shows that it is never too late to help our children change and reconnect with those who will always love them.
Working with Children and Youth with Complex Needs provides a detailed description of techniques and rich stories of how social workers, psychologists, counselors, and child and youth care workers can help young people become more resilient. With ample case studies and fascinating explanations of research, Dr. Ungar shows why we need to work just as hard changing the environments that surround children as we do changing children themselves. Building on lessons learned from clinical, community and residential settings, Dr. Ungar discusses 20 skills that can enhance the effectiveness of frontline mental health services. Along with descriptions of the skills necessary to talk with clients about the factors that put their mental health at risk, Working with Children and Youth with Complex Needs also presents systemic practices clinicians can use in their everyday work. Engaging with children’s extended family, addressing issues of community violence, racism and homophobia, and helping parents and teachers understand children’s maladaptive coping strategies as sometimes necessary are among the many practical strategies that are discussed which clinicians can use to enhance and sustain the therapeutic value of their work.
This new edition of Working with Children and Youth with Complex Needs provides detailed descriptions of techniques, ample case studies, fascinating and easy to understand explanations of research, and rich stories of how social workers, psychologists, counselors, child and youth care workers, and other mental health professionals can help young people become more resilient.
Fully updated and including new discussions of trauma, adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), resilience, genetic susceptibility to stress, the impact of migration and natural disasters on families, and much more, Dr. Ungar shows why we need to work just as hard changing the environments that surround children as we do changing children themselves. Building on lessons learned from clinical, community and residential settings, Dr. Ungar discusses a shortlist of 20 essential skills that can enhance the effectiveness of frontline mental health services without relying on expensive, resource heavy programs. Along with descriptions of the skills necessary to talk with clients about the factors that put their mental health at risk, Working with Children and Youth with Complex Needs presents systemic practices clinicians can use in their everyday work to help their clients transform their worlds and improve their access to the resources they need to succeed.
Chapters present a variety of practical strategies that clinicians can use to enhance and sustain the therapeutic value of their work, including engaging with children's extended family; addressing issues of community violence, racism and homophobia; and helping parents and teachers understand (and change) children's maladaptive coping strategies. A series of videos accompanies the text to help readers see the skills that are discussed being applied to real-life situations mental health professionals and their community allies encounter.
As youth culture seems to grow more self-centred and obsessed with "Me,"Michael Ungar shows us that, in fact, children today are as willing as ever to think "We." Given the right signals, and some important changes to the homes we live in, our schools and communities, kids will seek out close connections with the adults in their lives. Like generations before them, they want to be noticed for the contributions they can make. What they need, though, is compassion and encouragement from parents, and some careful attention to their most important connections, those made at home. Combining inspiring stories taken from his clinical work with families and children with expert research gathered from around the world, Ungar reveals how the close connections kids crave, and the support adults provide, can help kids realize their full potential - and how it can also protect them from the dangers of delinquency, whether it be drug abuse, violence, or early sexual activity.
At a time when global issues and activism have come to the forefront, We Generation offers a fresh, optimistic way of thinking about our children’s true nature and potential.
"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.
Unlike many other books about difficult kids that reflect the wisdom of adults, this one explores the truth of adolescence. It builds on recent explorations of youth such as Mary Pipher’s Reviving Ophelia, Judith Rich Harris’ The Nurture Assumption, and William Pollack’s Real Boys. It examines emerging trends in psychology, as well as recent innovations in work with our most unhealthy young people. Playing at Being Bad offers particular insight for parents, teachers, and caregivers of troubled youth just beginning, or already stuck in, patterns of delinquency, drug or alcohol addiction, sexual promiscuity, violence, suicide, depression, and truancy. This book tells the story of the teens Ungar worked with for more than fifteen years, taking a close look at the crises kids face, while exploring the important role that adults can play in keeping dangerous and delinquent youth from drifting further into trouble.