All families encounter problems from time to time. When families go through a crisis, some fall apart, while others manage to “ride the storm out” and come through the other side relatively intact. Research has shown that families who manage to handle a crisis effectively all have certain characteristics in common. These characteristics are called resiliency factors.

Dr. James Coyle, in a 2009 study called An Exploratory Study of the Nature of Family Resilience, identified several of these resiliency factors. The factors Dr. Coyle identified are listed below:

  • Adaptability: The ability to adapt to circumstances and “go with the flow”
  • Cohesion: The ability to stick together, come what may; a sense of identity as a family
  • Communication: The ability to communicate effectively, especially on emotional topics
  • Problem-solving: The ability to solve problems in a way that minimizes conflict
  • Beliefs: The ability to “believe in each other”
  • Involvement: The ability to show active care and concern for each other
  • Positive Parenting: The ability to focus on the person rather than the problem
  • Monitoring: The ability to compassionately correct difficulties
  • Discipline: The ability to correct in a loving, rather than a punitive, fashion
  • Child Self-Esteem: The ability to instill confidence in the children

According to Coyle’s study, these resiliency factors exist on a continuum; that is to say that the more of these factors a family possesses, the more likely they are to have positive outcomes and consistent positive consequences.

Mindfulness-Based Ecotherapy combines some of these factors into seven characteristics of the resilient family. Each one of these factors has been named with a word beginning with the letter ‘C’ to make them easier to remember. The names for these resiliency factors as used in Mindfulness-Based Ecotherapy are listed below, along with the original factor names from Coyle’s study:

  1. Compassion = adaptability (by being compassionate with others, we are able to adapt to any given situation by focusing on the relationship rather than the problem),
  2. Communication = communication
  3. Control = involvement (by being involved and expressing compassionate concern for others, we are better able to control our tendencies to act out in emotionally aggressive ways)
  4. Choices = problem-solving (making choices that lead to solutions), beliefs (by consciously choosing to ‘believe in’ others, we build better relationships)
  5. Consequences = positive parenting (by taking a relationship-based approach to consequences instead of a punishment-based approach, we are better able to achieve positive consequences with our loved ones), discipline (by modeling positive behaviors instead of emotionally aggressive behaviors, we are able to link positive consequences with positive choices)
  6. Consistency = cohesion (by consistently choosing to put relationships with our loved ones first, we build family cohesion and a sense of family identity), monitoring (by consistently monitoring the status of our relationships with others, we are better able to achieve consistent positive outcomes)
  7. Confidence = child (and adult) self-esteem (by consistently implementing all of the 7Cs of family resilience in our lives, we instill confidence in ourselves and our family members)

These 7Cs of Family Resilience are a ‘one size fits all’ approach in that the more of each of these factors a family possesses, the more likely that family is to achieve positive consequences. The more of these resiliency factors a family can learn and implement, the better able that family will be to achieve productive and adaptable resolutions to family conflict.

This is true for individuals as well. The more of these 7Cs you can apply in your life, the more likely you are to be able to interact with others without having to resort to emotional aggression. When you can implement all of these factors, you will have successfully learned the art of mindful mood management.

The reason this ‘one size fits all’ approach works is that while you may already have strengths in some areas of resilience, there may be other areas in which you could use a little help. By identifying those areas that might not be personal strengths, you are able to take advantage of the tools and techniques of Mindfulness-Based Ecotherapy to further develop these weaker areas.

The next seven posts will focus on one of the 7Cs of Family Resilience. In the coming posts you can evaluate your strengths and weaknesses with each of these resiliency factors.

If there are some resiliency factors that are more of a challenge for you, the coming posts will offer tools, tips, and suggestions for strengthening your abilities in those areas. In future posts, you will be asked to identify your strengths and weaknesses in each of the 7Cs of family resilience, and we’ll discuss how to strengthen those areas that may be challenging for you.