Monthly Article Archives: May 2019

In Pursuit of DignityRobert Brooks, Ph.D.

A major strategy of the strength-based approach I advocate involves children as well as adults engaging in what I have labeled “contributory” or “charitable” activities that enrich the lives of others. There is a burgeoning research base indicating that such activities add meaning and purpose to our lives, are an effective way for teaching children to become more empathic and compassionate, and serve as an integral dimension of a resilient lifestyle. In my writings and presentations I have frequently described the roots of my interest in contributory activities and the impact these behaviors can have in a multitude of domains, including the school and workplace environment, psychotherapy, and parenting. These roots can be traced to my roles as (a) the principal of a school in the locked door unit of the child and adolescent program at McLean Hospital (a private psychiatric hospital) and (b) a therapist, especially in my collaboration with teachers in designing school interventions to reinforce motivation and resilience in my child and adolescent patients. In my capacity as school principal, I initially experienced frustration, anger, and a high level of burnout triggered in part by the failure of misguided techniques to achieve disciplinary goals. Reflecting back on

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