Michael Ungar

Expert on Raising Resilient Kids, Adult Resilience and Improving Resilience Personally and Professionally

Michael Ungar

Dr. Michael Ungar is the Canada Research Chair in Child, Family and Community Resilience at Dalhousie University, and among the best-known writers and researchers on the topic of resilience in the world. His work has changed the way resilience is understood, shifting the focus from individual traits to the interactions between people and their families, workplaces, and communities. As both a family therapist and professor of Social Work, he has helped to identify the most important factors that influence the resilience of adults and children during periods of transition and stress. He is the author of 14 books that have been translated into five languages, numerous manuals for parents, educators, and employers, as well as more than 150 scientific papers. Dr. Ungar’s work has been the subject of articles in magazines like Maclean’s, Reader’s Digest, Body and Soul and Canadian Living, as well as features in national newspapers in Canada, the United States and Australia. He also appears regularly on radio and television. His blog Nurturing Resilience can be found on Psychology Today’s  website.

Dr. Ungar is also the founder and Director of the Resilience Research Centre where he has coordinated more than $10,000,000 in research in more than a dozen countries. Dr. Ungar regularly provides consultation and training to organizations like the World Bank, UNESCO, and the Red Cross. He is the former Chair of the Nova Scotia Mental Health and Addictions Strategy, executive board member of the American Family Therapy Academy, and a family therapist who works with mental health services for individuals and families at risk. In 2012 Dr. Ungar was the recipient of the Canadian Association of Social Workers National Distinguished Service Award for his outstanding contribution to clinical work with families and communities.

In May 2019 he released his latest book ” Change your World:The Science of Resilience and the True Path to Success”

  1. RESILIENCE AT WORK AND AT HOME: Maintaining Our Capacity to Cope During Times of Change and Challenge

    Despite the myth of the rugged individual, studies of resilience are showing that our ability to cope with change is not just about having the right personal qualities. Our resilience is as, and sometimes more, dependent upon the types of support we receive from our employers, families and communities when workplace stress is high. In this inspiring, story-filled presentation, Dr. Ungar will use his research from around the world and examples from his clinical practice to explain 12 factors that are critical to the resilience of employees on the job.  In the second part of Dr. Ungar’s presentation, he will show that while all 12 factors help people maintain their wellbeing during periods of transition in their workplaces, these factors can also offer employers ways to motivate their employees to contribute more to the growth and innovation taking place around them.

  2. The Risk-Taker’s Advantage: How to Make Our Kids More Resilient

    If we adults think back to when we were young, didn’t the risks we take and the responsibilities we had help prepare us for the challenges we would face later in our lives and make us more resilient? Over his years of practice, Dr. Ungar has seen a disturbing trend: a connection between all the security we offer children and troubling behaviors like anxiety, a lack of responsibility for one’s self and others, drug abuse, early sexual activity, and a lack of respect for adults. Dr. Ungar will discuss ways to offer our children and teenagers the right amount of risk and responsibility and share what he has learned from families who have found ways to help kids grow up to be competent, caring contributors.

  3. Helping those Who Help Nurture and Maintain Resilience

    Sustaining our resilience as professional helpers can be a challenge during times of change. Based on Dr. Ungar’s research around the world, and his clinical practice, this presentation will explore how those who help others can avoid burnout and maintain their own career and life resilience when stressors pile up at home and on the job. Twelve factors that make us more resilient as adults will be discussed, along with practical tips for coping successfully in culturally and contextually relevant ways. Using the concepts of navigation and negotiation that are key to understanding resilience in complex, changing environments, participants will have an opportunity to reflect on their own resilience in life, as well as times at work and at home where they have had the resources they needed to succeed. Finally, Dr. Ungar will talk about vicarious resilience, the positive impact we experience as helpers when we nurture resilience in others.

  4. The Successful Millennial: Strategies for Building the Resilience of Young Adults at Work and at Home

    Millennials are changing the way we think about employment, home ownership, the meaning of family and our relationship with the environment.

    Those changes, and many more, have been disruptive, but they have also led to better ways to pursue careers, live sustainably, and make workplaces and communities more participatory. Building on his research on resilience and clinical work with young adults around the world, Dr. Michael Ungar will explore the innovative strategies millennials use to find the psychological and social resources they need to realize their talents and make a genuine and meaningful contribution in their workplaces and communities. Among the most common strategies Dr. Ungar has identified are navigation, exploration and drifting, each an effective way young people maximize their access to a dozen personal and social resources required for success. These resources range from the need for a reasonable amount of structure to opportunities to form new and enduring relationships, powerful identities, fair treatment, a sense of belonging, and financial self-sufficiency.

    Though millennials have been stereotyped as frustrating to work with, they are in fact keen to make a contribution when workplaces offer the right amount of challenge and responsibility. In this presentation, Dr. Ungar offers a candid look at both the good and bad things that make millennials unique, while offering an optimistic approach to helping them become more resilient on and off the job.

  5. Change your World: The Science of Resilience and the True Path to Success

    Dr. Ungar explores reals lives, across age and culture, and discovers that the answers lie in the people and the support systems around us. Supportive spouses, caring families, nurturing employers, and effective governments are very often the difference between individual success and failure. The good news is that it is easier to change your environment than it is to change yourself. Indeed, Dr. Ungar has solid evidence that we can influence the world around us in ways that will make us more resilient both at home and on the job.

I have come to appreciate even more your ability to share your work with a diversity of audiences. I admired how you were able to take the solid science on resiliency and present it in different ways to the two audiences. Your Monday evening presentation was engaging, often very funny, and so accessible. Then, on Tuesday, you took similar content (although there was no repetition for those of us who heard you twice!) and again present it in a way that acknowledged the science in an accessible way.
Dawne Clark
Professor, Child and Youth Studies & Director, Centre for Child Well-Being, Mount Royal University
Michael Ungar's presentation was fantastic and very informative - I will most definitely be looking into his research - it was so fascinating and relevant!
Student Services Conference
University of British Columbia
Michael Ungar is an engaging speaker! I enjoyed his use of humor and personal stories while weaving in the resilience research.
Student Services Conference
University of British Columbia
Dr. Ungar is an engaging presenter, concise and presents material in an accessible format. His style is very engaging and the material he presented was incredibly relevant to me as an advisor, and as a parent.
Student Services Conference
University of British Columbia

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