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A model of resilience – Dr Anja Botha probes into the ability to recover from trauma
2014-12-02

She may have been awarded her doctorate degree only in July 2014, but Psychology lecturer at the University of the Free State (UFS), Dr Anja Botha, is already making a name for herself with her latest research.

Her study aims to develop a model of resilience for South African adolescents exposed to trauma. “The broad field, within which I work, is that of Developmental Psychology, with a specific focus on child and adolescent development and therapy,” says Dr Botha. 

Resilience studies are situated within Developmental Psychology since normal developmental tasks – such as achieving self-confidence and building supportive relationships – contribute greatly to children’s resilience. Resilience broadly refers to the individual’s ability to ‘bounce back’ after being exposed to adversity.

“The model of resilience which I compiled was a good fit for my participant group, indicating that the model explains the development of resilience in these adolescents well. The factors that I found to promote resilience in the South African context include various coping skills, intra- and interpersonal strengths, family involvement, and school engagement.

“Thus, aside from my passion for resilience studies, I am also very much interested in coping, strength-based interventions, parental guidance and school-based programmes.”

Dr Botha was awarded a Donald J Cohen fellowship in August 2014 during the 21st World Congress of the International Association for Child and Adolescent Psychiatrists and Allied Professions. The fellowship is in recognition of her work as an emerging international scholar in the field of child and adolescent mental health. This award was based on both her research as well as her involvement in the training of postgraduate students in child psychology.

She is currently supervising a number of master’s students’ research on various constructs related to resilience.

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