SOCW 6060-5



Crisis Theory and Resilience Theory

Social workers often confront crises that are brought to them—a crisis experienced by a client, a family, a community, or an organization. The goal of crisis theory is to intervene to help restore equilibrium and to reduce long-term psychological and social distress. Given the nature of social workers meeting clients at the point of crisis, interventions are short-term with very concrete outcomes.

In times of adversity or crisis, clients, families, communities, or organizations frequently forget that they have strengths, both intrapsychic assets and environmental resources, to assist them through the crisis. Resiliency can be viewed as a trait, a process, or the outcome of intervention, which may help a client adapt to a crisis, trauma, or adverse event. Resiliency theory emphasizes the environmental, psychological, social, and individual factors that minimize the risk that stems from problems that arise.

This week, you examine two theories that can be used to complement each other—crisis theory and resiliency theory.

Learning Objectives

Students will:
  • Apply crisis theory and resiliency theory to social work practice
  • Critique instruments to measure outcomes when evaluating effectiveness of interventions
  • Evaluate the strengths and limitations of crisis theory and resiliency theory as they apply to social work practice
Photo Credit: [Gearstd]/[iStock / Getty Images Plus]/Getty Images

Learning Resources

Note: To access this week’s required library resources, please click on the link to the Course Readings List, found in the Course Materials section of your Syllabus.
Required Readings
Turner, F. J. (Ed.). (2017). Social work treatment: Interlocking theoretical approaches (6th ed.). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Chapter 7: Social Work Theory and Practice for Crisis, Disaster, and Trauma (pp. 117–130)
Chapter 29: Resiliency Theory and Social Work Practice (pp. 441–451)
Smith-Osborne, A. (2007). Life span and resiliency theory: A critical review. Advances in Social Work, 8(1), 152–168. Retrieved from 
Smith-Osborne, A., & Whitehill Bolton K. (2013). Assessing resilience: A review of measures across the life course. Journal of Evidence-Based Social Work, 10(2), 111–126. doi:10.1080/15433714.2011.597305

Note: You will access this article from the Walden Library databases.
Document: Theory Into Practice: Four Social Work Case Studies (PDF)
Optional Resources
Bradshaw, B. G., Richardson, G. E., & Kulkarni, K. (2007). Thriving with diabetes—An introduction to the resiliency approach for diabetes educators. Diabetes Educator, 33(4), 643–649.
Dombo, E. A., & Ahearn, F. L. (2017). The aftermath of humanitarian crises: A model for addressing social work interventions with individuals, groups, and communities. Illness, Crisis, & Loss, 25(2), 107–126.

Discussion: Instruments Measuring Resiliency

Social workers strive to make informed decisions about the interventions they implement. These decisions should be driven by what the research data say. As a result, social workers have been called to systematically evaluate the effectiveness of the interventions they implement. A common way to evaluate interventions is to use a single-subject design. This involves monitoring an outcome for an intervention implemented for one client. After a social worker works with the client to determine the outcome to be measured, the following steps to the evaluation might look like this:

In this Discussion, you use the lens of resiliency theory when reflecting on a case from your fieldwork, and then you consider how to measure the effectiveness of a possible intervention.

To prepare, read this article listed in the Learning Resources:

  • Smith-Osborne, A., & Whitehill Bolton K. (2013). Assessing resilience: A review of measures across the life course. Journal of Evidence-Based Social Work, 10(2), 111–126. doi:10.1080/15433714.2011.597305
By Day 3


  • Reflect on your fieldwork experience, and identify a case where it would have been beneficial to employ resiliency theory. Describe the case in 2 sentences.
  • Describe the presenting problem in one concise sentence.
  • Describe an intervention you would implement to promote resiliency.
  • Identify an instrument from the Smith-Osborne and Whitehill Bolton’s article that would be appropriate when employing a single-subject design to evaluate how effective the intervention is in increasing the client’s level of resiliency.
  • Explain why you selected the instrument.
    • In other words, why would the instrument be appropriate? (Consider the age of the client and for whom the instrument was designed, how feasible it would be to administer the instrument such as cost, time to administer it, etc.).
By Day 5

Respond to two colleagues:

  • Discuss how you would use the data collected by your colleague to guide the next step in the planned change process or to inform future work with clients.


Application of Crisis Theory and Resiliency Theory to a Case Study

It is common for social workers to be presented with a crisis situation brought forth by clients, families, communities, and/or organizations. The ultimate goal is to restore the client to equilibrium. The five stages of the crisis are (1) the hazardous event, (2) the vulnerable stage, (3) the precipitating factor, (4) the state of active crisis, and (5) the reintegration or crisis resolution phase.

There are times when a social worker will use more than one theory to assist in conceptualizing the problem and intervention, particularly if the theories complement each other. For example, resiliency theory can be used alongside crisis theory.

To prepare: Review and focus on the same case study that you chose in Week 2.

By Day 7

Submit a 1- to 2-page case write-up that addresses the following:

  • Map the client’s crisis using the five stages of the crisis.
  • Describe the client’s assets and resources (in order to understand the client’s resilience).
  • Describe how you, the social worker, will intervene to assist the client to reach the reintegration stage of the crisis. Be sure that the intervention promotes resiliency.
  • Evaluate how using crisis theory and resiliency theory together help in working with a client.

Be sure to:

  • Identify and correctly reference the case study you have chosen.
  • Use literature to support your claims.
  • Use APA formatting and style.
    • Remember to double-space your paper.
    •  Tiffani Bradley Identifying Data:

    •  Tiffani Bradley is a 16-year-old Caucasian female. She was raised in a Christian family in Philadelphia, PA. She is of German descent. Tiffani’s family consists of her father, Robert, 38 years old; her mother, Shondra, 33 years old, and her sister, Diana, 13 years old. Tiffani currently resides in a group home, Teens First, a brand new, court-mandated teen counseling program for adolescent victims of sexual exploitation and human trafficking. Tiffani has been provided room and board in the residential treatment facility for the past 3 months. Tiffani describes herself as heterosexual. Presenting Problem: Tiffani has a history of running away. She has been arrested on three occasions for prostitution in the last 2 years. Tiffani has recently been court ordered to reside in a group home with counseling. She has a continued desire to be reunited with her pimp, Donald. After 3 months at Teens First, Tiffani said that she had a strong desire to see her sister and her mother. She had not seen either of them in over 2 years and missed them very much. Tiffani is confused about the path to follow. She is not sure if she wants to return to her family and sibling or go back to Donald. Family Dynamics: Tiffani indicates that her family worked well together until 8 years ago. She reports that around the age of 8, she remembered being awakened by music and laughter in the early hours of the morning. When she went downstairs to investigate, she saw her parents and her Uncle Nate passing a pipe back and forth between them. She remembered asking them what they were doing and her mother saying, “adult things” and putting her back in bed. Tiffani remembers this happening on several occasions. Tiffani also recalls significant changes in the home's appearance. The home, which was never fancy, was always neat and tidy. During this time, however, dust would gather around the house, dishes would pile up in the sink, dirt would remain on the floor, and clothes would go for long periods of time without being washed. Tiffani began cleaning her own clothes and making meals for herself and her sister. Often there was not enough food to feed everyone, and Tiffani and her sister would go to bed hungry. Tiffani believed she was responsible for helping her mom so that her mom did not get so overwhelmed. She thought that if she took care of the home and her sister, maybe that would help mom return to the person she was before.  Sometimes Tiffani and her sister would come downstairs in the morning to find empty beer cans and liquor bottles on the kitchen table along with a crack pipe. Her parents would be in the bedroom, and Tiffani and her sister would leave the house and go to school by themselves. The music and noise downstairs continued for the next 6 years, which escalated to screams and shouting and sounds of people fighting. Tiffani remembers her mom one morning yelling at her dad to “get up and go to work.” Tiffani and Diana saw their dad come out of the bedroom and slap their mom so hard she was knocked down. Dad then went back into the bedroom. Tiffani   remembers thinking that her mom was not doing what she was supposed to do in the house, which is what probably angered her dad. Shondra and Robert have been separated for a little over a year and have started dating other people. Diana currently resides with her mother and Anthony, 31 years old, who is her mother’s new boyfriend. Educational History: Tiffani attends school at the group home, taking general education classes for her general education development (GED) credential. Diana attends Town Middle School and is in the 8th grade. Employment History: Tiffani reports that her father was employed as a welding apprentice and was waiting for the opportunity to join the union. Eight years ago, he was laid off due to financial constraints at the company. He would pick up odd jobs for the next 8 years but never had steady work after that. Her mother works as a home health aide. Her work is part-time, and she has been unable to secure full-time work. Social History: Over the past 2 years, Tiffani has had limited contact with her family members and has not been attending school. Tiffani did contact her sister Diana a few times over the 2-year period and stated that she missed her very much. Tiffani views Donald as her “husband” (although they were never married) and her only friend. Previously, Donald sold Tiffani to a pimp, “John T.” Tiffani reports that she was very upset Donald did this and that she wants to be reunited with him, missing him very much. Tiffani indicates that she knows she can be a better “wife” to him. She has tried to make contact with him by sending messages through other people, as John T. did not allow her access to a phone. It appears that over the last 2 years, Tiffani has had neither outside support nor interactions with anyone beyond Donald, John T., and some other young women who were prostituting. Mental Health History: On many occasions Tiffani recalls that when her mother was not around, Uncle Nate would ask her to sit on his lap. Her father would sometimes ask her to show them the dance that she had learned at school. When she danced, her father and Nate would laugh and offer her pocket change. Sometimes, their friend Jimmy joined them. One night, Tiffani was awakened by her uncle Nate and his friend Jimmy. Her parents were apparently out, and they were the only adults in the home. They asked her if she wanted to come downstairs and show them the new dances she learned at school. Once downstairs Nate and Jimmy put some music on and started to dance. They asked Tiffani to start dancing with them, which she did. While they were dancing, Jimmy spilled some beer on her. Nate said she had to go to the bathroom to clean up. Nate, Jimmy, and Tiffani all went to the bathroom. Nate asked Tiffani to take her clothes off and get in the bath. Tiffani hesitated to do this, but Nate insisted it was OK since he and Jimmy were family. Tiffani eventually relented and began to wash up. Nate would tell her that she missed a spot and would scrub the area with his hands. Incidents like this continued to occur with increasing  levels of molestation each time.  The last time it happened, when Tiffani was 14, she pretended to be willing to dance for them, but when she got downstairs, she ran out the front door of the house. Tiffani vividly remembers the fear she felt the nights Nate and Jimmy touched her, and she was convinced they would have raped her if she stayed in the house.  About halfway down the block, a car stopped. The man introduced himself as Donald, and he indicated that he would take care of her and keep her safe when these things happened. He then offered to be her boyfriend and took Tiffani to his apartment. Donald insisted Tiffani drink beer. When Tiffani was drunk, Donald began kissing her, and they had sex. Tiffani was also afraid that if she did not have sex, Donald would not let her stay— she had nowhere else to go. For the next 3 days, Donald brought her food and beer and had sex with her several more times. Donald told Tiffani that she was not allowed to do anything without his permission. This included watching TV, going to the bathroom, taking a shower, and eating and drinking. A few weeks later, Donald bought Tiffani a dress, explaining to her that she was going to “find a date” and get men to pay her to have sex. When Tiffani said she did not want to do that, Donald hit her several times. Donald explained that if she didn’t do it, he would get her sister Diana and make her do it instead. Out of fear for her sister, Tiffani relented and did what Donald told her to do. She thought at this point her only purpose in life was to be a sex object, listen, and obey—and then she would be able to keep the relationships and love she so desired. Legal History: Tiffani has been arrested three times for prostitution. Right before the most recent charge, a new state policy was enacted to protect youth 16 years and younger from prosecution and jail time for prostitution. The Safe Harbor for Exploited Children Act allows the state to define Tiffani as a sexually exploited youth, and therefore the state will not imprison her for prostitution. She was mandated to services at the Teens First agency, unlike her prior arrests when she had been sent to detention. Alcohol and Drug Use History: Tiffani’s parents were social drinkers until about 8 years ago. At that time Uncle Nate introduced them to crack cocaine. Tiffani reports using alcohol when Donald wanted her to since she wanted to please him, and she thought this was the way she would be a good “wife.” She denies any other drug use.  Medical History: During intake, it was noted that Tiffani had multiple bruises and burn marks on her legs and arms. She reported that Donald had slapped her when he felt she did not behave and that John T. burned her with cigarettes. She had realized that she did some things that would make them mad, and she tried her hardest to keep them pleased even though she did not want to be with John T. Tiffani has been treated for several sexually transmitted infections (STIs) at local clinics and is currently on an antibiotic for a kidney infection. Although she was given condoms by Donald and John T. for her “dates,” there were several “Johns” who refused to use  them.
    • Strenghts: Tiffani is resilient in learning how to survive the negative relationships she has been involved with. She has as sense of protection for her sister and will sacrifice herself to keep her sister safe. Robert Bradley: father, 38 years old Shondra Bradley: mother, 33 years old Nate Bradley: uncle, 36 years old Tiffani Bradley: daughter, 16 years old Diana Bradley: daughter, 13 years old Donald: Tiffani’s self-described husband and her former pimp Anthony: Shondra’s live-in partner, 31 years old John T.: Tiffani’s most recent pimp 
  • Responses

 Angelica Wiggins RE: Discussion - Week 5COLLAPSE

Reflect on your fieldwork experience and identify a case where it would have been beneficial to employ resiliency theory. Describe the case in 2 sentences. 

Unfortunately, I have not completed my field experience yet but plan to do so during the Fall 2019 quarter. For this discussion, I chose the case of Tiffani Bradley to reflect on. This is the case that I identified at the top of Week 2 and have become very familiar with the client.

In the case of Tiffani Bradley, the resilience theory would be very beneficial. Tiffani is a 16-year-old female who has been a victim of prettification from the age of eight.  Tiffani is a prime example of the resilience theory because she consistently copes with stress and adversity to achieve functional outcomes and beat the odds in her environment.

Describe the presenting problem in one concise sentence.  

Tiffani is 16-year-old female who has overcome trauma/high stress levels in her family dynamic and environment due to her ability to adapt to negative external factors surrounding her.

Describe an intervention you would implement to promote the resiliency.

The strength-based approach would be an intervention I would implement to promote resiliency in Tiffani’s life. I would also use solution-focused therapy as it would help Tiffani to focus on what she wants to personally achieve and minimize the emphasis on past failings and problems. Tiffani and I would focus on her strengths and prior accomplishments.

Identify an instrument from the Smith-Osborne and Whitehill Bolton’s article that would be appropriate when employing a single-subject design to evaluate how effective the intervention is in increasing the client’s level of resiliency.

An instrument from the Smith-Osborne and Whitehill Bolton’s article that would be appropriate when employing a single-subject design to evaluate how effective the intervention is in increasing the client’s level of resiliency would be the “RSCA” method by (Prince-Embury, 2008). The RSCA instrument consists of 3 scales: Emotional reactivity, sense of mastery, and sense of relatedness. The sense of relatedness monitors the individual’s ability to trust others and the capacity to accept others. Emotional reactivity monitors the individual’s sensitivity level and their behavior when upset. Sense of mastery measures the individual’s adaptability, and how they perceive uncontrollable factors in life. 

Explain why you selected the instrument. In other words, why would the instrument be appropriate? (Consider the age of the client and for whom the instrument was designed, how feasible it would be to administer the instrument such as cost, time to administer it, etc.).  

I believe that the RSCA instrument would be appropriate being that Tiffani is 16 years old and falls into the age range for RCSA sampling. The RCSA validation sampled adolescent’s ages 9 to 18 years old. The sample measures the resilience in children and adolescents. It is also free of cost and would not cause any financial burdens on Tiffani or her support system.

Second response

 Jennifer Ford RE: Discussion - Week 5 AttachmentCOLLAPSE

In my tenure as a librarian, I had the pleasure of meeting a young boy who had parents who did drugs in the home (CYS was already alerted and actively working on his case).  I was kind to this kid, because I knew of his plight outside of the library.  One day I offered him a Klondike, because my kids were there, and I had bought Klondikes for them.  He smiled, and came up to me and then his face got dark, and he asked “are you serious?” I didn’t even think about his previous experiences., and I said “of course, what do you take me for?” 

An intervention that might be effective would be working on family strengthening and developing a plan to have the family use talk therapy to sort out differences and to strengthen the family unit.  I worked with an art therapist when my own marriage was failing, and it was wonderful to work on our individual parts of a painting, and put them all together.  I think this may be a starting point for this boy’s family. 

I also agree with the previous post, the RSCA method from Smith and Osborne, would have done me well in this articular case.  It would have allowed me to see how he applied a sense of relatedness, emotional reactivity and sense of relatedness.  

 Jamiah Cruz RE: Discussion - Week 6COLLAPSE

   The reference I used for my search was Foster, J. M. (2017). The Fears and Futures of Boy Victims of Sexual Abuse: An Analysis of Narratives. Journal of Child Sexual Abuse, 26(6), 710-730. doi:10.1080/10538712.2017.1339223.  According to the text Foster, J. M. (2017). The centers for disease control and prevention in 2005 asserts that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys are sexually abused before the age of 18.  Mostly 50 percent of women and 28 percent men who sees counselors have history of sexual abuse. Most individual turn down help because they aren't ready to talk about the trauma. They would always need to seek help to cope with others because of their fear. Sexual abuse clients will always have a issue coping with others and they will always see the world is unsafe. Tiffani recieved helped at the home she resigned in and she decided to try and cope with her parents and the world.  I say I would use cognitive Behavior therapy because it's a process they go by step by step to see if you can improve off the steps they are going by. She couldn't cope with the individuals that hurt her but she ended up coping with her sister. 

 Angelica Wiggins RE: Discussion - Week 6COLLAPSE

Provide the reference for the study you found using APA guidelines.

Boone, M. S., Mundy, B., Morrissey Stahl, K., & Genrich, B. E. (2015). Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Functional Contextualism, and Clinical Social Work. Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment, 25(6), 643–656.

Briefly paraphrase, in 2 to 3 sentences, the methodological context (i.e., research method, how data was collected, and the instruments used) of the study and the findings.

This article discusses the fit between social work and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), a mindfulness-based cognitive behavioral therapy that meets all of these criteria. As of 2011, approximately two thirds of ACT studies had included mediation analyses, statistical tests that determine whether changes in measured outcomes (e.g., degree of depression, quality of life) are driven, at least in part, by the processes theorized by the treatment model (Hayes et al., 2011). This kind of analysis is important because when a treatment works, it is often difficult to determine the primary mediating.

Evaluate the findings in terms of its applicability or appropriateness for the client in your case study.

ACT ultimately offer social workers useful tools for supporting growth and change in their clients. ACT uses metaphors, mindfulness, and experiential exercises to help clients contact experientially what it is like to simply notice their internal experiences (e.g., thoughts, feelings, memories) rather than trying to change them.

Determine whether you would use or not use the therapy you selected for the client in your selected case study (consider how culturally relevant it is, how aligned it is with social work ethics, etc.) and explain why.

I would indeed use ACT in Tiffani’s case as ACT undermines the power of socially and verbally constructed ways of relating by helping clients become more present to their moment-to-moment experience (Boone et al., 2015). Through this form of therapy Tiffani’s feelings and experiences are still there, but her relationship to them are different. Her thoughts and feelings will become more like what she experienced, rather than representations of how the world is.

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