Building Resilience

”Resilience is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress – such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems or workplace and financial stressors. It means ’bouncing back’ from difficult experiences.” (As defined by American Psychological Association:

In short, resilience is about coping with the difficult sides of life and being able to “bounce back”.  With focus on strengthening your inner self, PULSE believes that doing a music activity or joining a music community such as Field Band Foundation can help building your resilience. You can feel mastering and support and regain your self-esteem by learning an instrument or dance and build new and positive relationships within a safe space. Read more about how the PULSE giraffe GIRA built her resilience when she joined the Field Band Foundation here.

1 June 2018, PULSE in South Africa attended a workshop on resilience with an external facilitator, Laverne Antrobus from the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, hosted by JPCCC – JHB Parent & Child Counselling Centre. The focus in this workshop was mainly on how to be aware of factors that are beneficial for your mental health or factors that will have a negative impact on people’s well-being. Individuals will be more able to endure and cope with unpredicted difficulties that occur if they are resilient.

Building resilience is important for everyone at all stages of life. Yet, children and young adults will be dependent on others to start the process towards a strong inner self. Being around supportive and loving adults is crucial for a child’s development. At the workshop, two sets of visual tools were handed out in work with children.


The “thinking brain” is when your brain is in the relaxed mode, where it usually is. When you experience something alarming, such as anxiety, fear or a risk-element, your brain jumps over to the “alarm brain”. Here, it will feel unsettled and in an alarm state. All people usually have their own steps on how to get back to the “thinking brain” (acceptance, calm down, deep breaths, etc.).


Helpful and damaging thoughts

The other example was on how to acknowledge sad emotions and how you can work on getting resilient by oscillating between confronting damaging thoughts and getting helped by focusing on helpful and positive thoughts. Meaning not to supress damaging thoughts, but to accept them, understand why they are there and find ways of moving over to helpful thoughts.

If one actively engages in this process of being aware, and start recognising the required and personal steps, one can strengthen the ability of being resilient. Using the visual tools, children can also learn how to cope and make what happens in the brain more comprehensible and visual. In work with children, it is all about facilitating the process and make them understand how to cope.

The workshop was really inspiring for the PULSE team. It provided the team with additional, important knowledge to add to the focus of building resilience through music participation. Building resilience is a personal journey, but music and dance can improve the progress and supportive adults can facilitate the whole process.


Written by: Sofie Hjertvik

Photos by Sofie Hjertvik and Hanna Bakke Negård

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