"How do you reconcile what my wife feels with my own personal feelings toward it?" Garay asked during a "Road to Resilience" community forum held in San Jose, Calif., April 15. "It seems [my family] needs more from me, but I am not able to give it." During the forum, he received a number of tips for building his resilience, including taking news breaks and keeping his worries in perspective.
"I understand you have a different way than your wife of handling and building your own resilience," said Russ Newman, PhD, JD, APA's executive director for professional practice and a member of the forum panel. "It is important to realize there is no one way to do this. It's a matter of finding what works best for you. And to the extent that it might be at odds with the way your wife handles stress, the two of you need to communicate to each other about that."
What's most important, Newman added, is that "resilience can be learned," whether one is coping with the realities of war, a serious illness, job loss or many of the other hardships that occur in so many people's lives. These were just a few of the issues covered during the forum attended by psychologists and more than 175 members of the San Jose community. The attendees included military families and others who were either invited by local organizations or heard about the event through media outreach.
The forum was held during the California Psychological Association's annual meeting as part of the national "Road to Resilience" public education initiative launched by APA in August 2002. The resilience project has engaged hundreds of psychologists across the country in similar types of forums and public outreach.
California Psychological Association President Jana Martin, PhD, decided to host the forum in part to engage other psychologists in her state in the resilience project so they will conduct similar forums in their own communities.
"As psychologists, I think it is one of our responsibilities to make connections with social agencies in our area and for them to know about us," said Martin, who was a member of the forum panel. She also noted that it's just as important for communities to be resilient and make connections as it is for individuals.
Faith Fancher, a San Francisco Bay area television news reporter who is well-known for publicly sharing her battle with breast cancer, moderated the forum. In addition to Newman and Martin, the panel included Francine Toder, PhD, a Bay area psychologist who responded to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York and also does local business consulting.
Sonya Wilson, the wife of a reservist on active duty since January 2002, also joined the panel and shared her personal story of resilience. "I try to look forward to things and recognize my husband is trained to do his job well and there are others looking after his back," Wilson said.
Those who attended the session were the first to receive printed materials that were developed by APA's Practice Directorate about resilience in wartime. The brochures have been available for review and download from the APA Help Center since the start of the war in Iraq and are geared for consumers. They include developmentally appropriate materials for parents and teachers of very young children, elementary school children, middle school children and high school students, as well as a brochure targeted toward teens. APA members can receive their own "Road to Resilience" tool kit to plan similar types of forums and outreach in their own communities by calling the Campaign Services Bureau at (877) 274-8787, ext. 135, or (310) 274-8787, ext. 135, outside the United States.
--REPORTED BY APA PRACTICE DIRECTORATE STAFF