Exploring Adversity, Resilience and Hope

Social work and behavioral science academics and professionals gained valuable insights at the Groves Conference on Marriage and Family in June.

Dr. Debra Berke
Dr. Debra Berke

The in-depth, three-day event was planned by Dr. Debra Berke, director of Psychology programs at Wilmington University’s College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Dr. Barbara Settles of the University of Delaware, and Dr. Karen Doneker of Towson University.

“Surviving or Thriving: Exploring Adversity, Resilience, and Hope across the Lifespan” focused on the theme of trauma and adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), which can include physical, emotional, or sexual abuse; physical or emotional neglect; household dysfunction, including substance abuse, untreated mental illness, or incarceration of a household member; domestic violence; and the separation or divorce of household members.

WilmU is a leader in the field, having offered a Trauma-Informed Approaches certificate for four years.

“We offer the only undergrad certificate in the country and are now working on a graduate certificate for people who already are in the workforce,” Dr. Berke says.

She gave several presentations at the event, examining resiliency, prevention science, and forming critical partnerships, such as WilmU’s relationship with Delaware’s Division of Health and Human Services, through which WilmU has provided training in trauma-informed approaches to state workers. In October, Gov. John Carney directed state agencies that provide services for children and adults to integrate trauma-informed best practices with the goal of minimizing trauma and supporting resiliency.

Established in 1934, the Groves Conference is an annual event that explores topics of interest to couples and families. The 2019 conference was held in Kennett Square.

“It was an inspiring conference,” Dr. Berke says. “We hope everyone went home feeling energized and enlightened.”