Linda Theron

Linda Theron (D.Ed.)
Dep. of Educational Psychology
Faculty of Education
University of Pretoria, South Africa
Psychologist (Educational; PS 0063622)

Tree growing from rocks
South African students explain their resilience processes Video - South African students explain their resilience

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Pathways to Resilience

Introduction to Khazimula

(See Pathways to Resilience Page for the complete list of videos )
Included photos / drawings are copyrighted; photos taken by Prof Tinie Theron or Mr Eswill Theron

Figure 1 Symposium presented at 21st South African Psychology Congress, Johannesburg, South Africa, September 2015 From left: Prof Tumi Khumalo, Ms Carla Bezuidenhout, Ms Carlien Kahl, Dr Angelique van Rensburg, Dr Elzette Fritz, Prof Linda Theron

Drawing on the findings of two multi-country resilience studies (Pathways to Resilience Study; SISU study), this symposium interrogated how psychologists can support resilience processes among South African children who are placed at risk by South African society for negative life outcomes. Ungar’s (2011) Social Ecology of Resilience Theory was the symposium’s departure point. Meaningful psychological support demands that psychologists acquire deep knowledge of the varied nature of resilience resources, and how these are systemically shaped by contextual and cultural factors. Accordingly, resilience is conceptualized as a process in which children and their social ecologies collaborate toward functional outcomes amidst adversity.

The symposium comprised three parts. First, Linda Theron (principal South African investigator in Pathways and SISU) provided a synopsis of the projects and comment critically on the pressing need for culturally- and contextually-sensitive understandings of resilience as a systemic process.  She highlighted the need to change the odds that challenge young people, rather than expect young people to beat the odds. Part Two contained four papers. Paper 1 (Theron & van Rensburg) reported Pathways survey findings to flag how mental health risk is differentially associated with resilience-supporting resources when youth consider their communities safe/unsafe, and that quality caregiving (but not caregiver presence) moderates this relationship. Paper 2 (Bezuidenhout) reported SISU findings that illuminate how important school ecologies are to Gr. 1 children’s resilience processes, and what this implies for educational psychologists. Paper 3 (Kahl) drew on the same study, but compared South African and Finnish findings to highlight how context influences the expression of resilience-supporting processes. Paper 4 (Khumalo et al.) reflected on the meaningfulness of a creative repertoire of qualitative methodologies, and multiple social ecological voices, to elicit deep and trustworthy understandings of children’s resilience processes. Part Three was facilitated by Dr Elzette Fritz (a practising educational psychologist and creative arts therapist) who acted as discussant and stimulated a critical dialogue about the usefulness of resilience research findings to psychological practice and the need to do research in context-/participant-appropriate ways.

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