We all face adversity off and on throughout our lifetime. One’s resilience or ability to bounce back from these challenges is, in large part, dependent on what protective factors are in place. Protective factors are that which contribute to positive mental health, allowing us to face and overcome challenges. Though some protective factors cannot be changed or controlled such as our genetics or childhood experiences, there are many protective factors that are within our control. So regardless of our past, we all have the opportunity to become more resilient. The following is a list of some protective factors that can be developed to positively impact your level of resilience. As you read, explore and discern which are areas of strength and which may represent opportunities for growth.
- Interconnectedness: We all need to feel like someone has our back–that we are loved, supported, and accepted. Take some time to reflect on your connections with your family, friends, and community. Expanding and nurturing connections with others will enrich your life and provide you with a sense of strength, comfort, and belonging.
- Sense of Purpose: We all need to feel that we matter. That we can contribute to the world and impact the world in a positive way. Do you wake up everyday knowing your life has purpose and meaning? What do you value most? If you are struggling with identifying your purpose or what it is you most value, don’t despair! Begin by spending some quiet time reflecting on the various domains (family, marriage, parenting, friendships, career, education, recreation/leisure, spirituality, and physical well-being) and roles in your life, identifying which may require more attention and focus. It is important to note that your sense of purpose may shift, especially during life transitions. Allow yourself to embrace the feeling of being lost and confused as an invitation to begin your next chapter!
- Sense of Self-Worth: Believing in your inherent worth, irrespective of accomplishments or failures, is the first step to accepting yourself. And real self-acceptance flows from a perspective and practice of self-forgiveness and self-compassion. It is difficult to develop a positive sense of self-worth if you have a harsh and critical voice in your head that berates you for each and every flaw or mistake you make. Be kind and encouraging to yourself.
- Positive Coping Skills: It is important to develop a large repertoire of skills to help you manage negative emotions. Make a varied list of go-to skills that you can use when you are struggling including those that are physical (walk in the park, running, biking, or yoga), calming (meditation, guided imagery, or deep breathing), self-soothing (massages, taking a long shower or bath, or listening to music), and those that are fun and distracting (hobbies and interests). These skills will lift your mood allowing you to move forward toward problem solving or acceptance of that which you cannot change.
- Physical Well-Being: Exercising regularly, eating a well-balanced and healthy diet, and getting plenty of sleep daily are critical to maintaining a positive mental health baseline. Our capacity to cope is greatly reduced when we are short on sleep or lacking in the appropriate nutrients, which contribute to a sense of vitality.
- Healthy thinking patterns: Pay attention to your thoughts. Catch yourself when ruminating on negative thoughts and try shifting your perspective in a more positive and hopeful direction. If you feel caught in a trap of negativity and feel you are struggling with gaining perspective, it may be helpful to reach out to a mental health provider and seek some support.
Her therapy clients describe Ruth as empowering, open-minded, genuine, empathetic, respectful, and committed.
Ruth’s therapy style is honest, calm, informative, motivational, evidence-based, diverse, and playful with children.
Ruth earned her Master’s degree in Clinical Social Work from Boston University. Her previous clinical experiences involved providing therapy to individuals, couples, and families dealing with a broad range of mental health issues and addictions. She enjoys working with all ages, addressing challenges such as anxiety, depression, grief, trauma and abuse, childhood behavioral issues, intellectual disabilities, family conflict, divorce, and relationship issues. She also has co-facilitated therapy groups including those for domestic violence, grief and loss for individuals with intellectual disabilities, DBT skills, and groups for children (ages 5-18) struggling with the divorce of their parents.
Ruth’s clinical approach is grounded in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. However, she also incorporates Psychodynamic, Person-Centered, Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), and Family Systems Therapy in her counseling work. Ruth strives to honor the strengths of each person, and find ways to use those strengths to help clients achieve maximum growth in therapy.