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Engaging, story-filled style containing real examples


Dr. Michael Ungar

travels from Canada

Expert on resilience, parenting, and risk speaking about his experiences and research results working with families

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Keynote speaker Michael Ungar is an acknowledged expert on resilience in the world. As a professional keynote speaker he talks about his experiences and research results from working with youth, families and the professionals that support them in clinical, community and workplace settings. Through his engaging story-filled style Michael Ungar is able to help his audiences explore the many ways we find resilience at home and at work.

The keynote speaker Michael Ungar is among the best known writers and researchers on the topic of resilience. He has contributed immensely to the perception of resilience problems. Michael Ungar has made it possible to emphasize the importance of the environmental factors on resilience like families, schools, workplaces and communities. He regularly provides consultation and training to organizations like the World Bank, UNESCO, and the Red Cross.

As the Canada Research Chair in Child, Family and Community Resilience and Professor of Social Work at Dalhousie University, as well as a family therapist, he has helped to identify the most important factors that influence the resilience of children and adults 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 135 scientific papers. He is the founder and Director of the Resilience Research Centre where he coordinates over five million dollars in research in more than a dozen countries. Furthermore, he has proven himself as a successful author with the best-selling works like Too Safe For Their Own Good: How Risk and Responsibility Help Teens Thrive and I Still Love You: Nine Things Troubled Kids Need from Their Parents.

In his keynotes, our speaker Michael Ungar shows the ability to adapt complex ideas and to put them into clear contexts and examples. Michael’s audiences enjoy his use of storytelling and humour. His experienced lecturing style makes it easy for the attendees to follow.

See keynotes with Dr. Michael Ungar

    Keynote by Speaker Michael Ungar 

    For the Workplace:

    Resilience on the Job: 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 nine factors that are critical to the resilience of employees on the job. Dr. Ungar will discuss:

    1. The need for structure and opportunities for advancement.
    2. The benefits of predictable consequences related to performance.
    3. The value of the many different relationships people need to cope well and the sense of belonging that results.
    4. Strategies to maintain a powerful identity during employment disruptions.
    5. Ways to experience personal control when job stress increases.
    6. The need for employees to advocate for fair treatment.
    7. The importance of ensuring basic needs get met.
    8. The need for one’s work to be meaningful.
    9. The necessity of making workplaces physical and psychologically safe.


    In the second part of Dr. Ungar’s presentation, he will show that while all nine 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.


    Keynote by Speaker Michael Ungar 

    For parents:

    I Still Love You: Nine Things Troubled Kids Need from their Parents, Caregivers, and Schools


    In this story-filled presentation, Dr. Michael Ungar provides nine practical strategies parents, caregivers and educators need to help young people of all ages heal, no matter a child’s emotional, psychological or behavioral problems. Based on material from his new book, I Still Love You, his clinical practice and his research around the world. Michael’s words will help you understand the importance of the everyday heroics that change children’s lives, even when children’s parents, caregivers and educators are frustrated and unsure what to do next.


    Keynote by Speaker Michael Ungar 

    For Professionals:

    The Social Ecology of Resilience: Families, Schools, and Communities


    Dr. Michael Ungar will use examples from his clinical practice and research collaborations on six continents to explore the nature of resilience among children and adults. His work suggests the need for an ecological, culturally sensitive interpretation of what resilience means to people who are confronting great adversity. Michael will show how seven factors associated with resilience make it more likely people will do well.


    Keynote by Speaker Michael Ungar 

    For Researchers:

    Researching Resilience Across Cultures and Contexts: An Example of Mixed Methods, Transformative Research


    In this presentation, Dr. Michael Ungar will explore how we can study resilience and wellbeing using mixed methods designs. The focus will be on how to use these methods in participatory ways to develop knowledge that informs policy and practice. A brief introduction to the theory of resilience and wellbeing will be followed by an overview of mixed methods and examples of their use in studies conducted by the Resilience Research Centre. Discussion will include topics such as contextualization, measure development, sample selection, data collection, analysis, seeking convergence between the qualitative and quantitative data, and knowledge mobilization. Participants are encouraged to bring questions relating to their own research topics.


Interview with Dr. Michael Ungar

What are the most important things to consider when you are confronted with troubled kids?

Both my research and clinical work has taught me that pathways to resilience can look very different in different situations. I always assume a child is coping as best he or she can with the resources they have available. So, when I’m meeting a troubled kid for the first time I’m always trying to see the world from their point of view. The good news is that if I change the circumstances around a child, all the evidence shows that children will respond and change their behaviors too. Maybe not instantly, but over time.

Of course relationships are a big part of this change, but there is far more we can do to help kids get away from troubling patterns of behaviour. That’s what my book, I Still Love You is all about. Showing parents how children respond to structure and consequences, lots of positive relationships (with them and other people), help finding a powerful identity, experiences of control and decision making, even a sense of belonging and one’s culture. All of these things together give children an expectable environment, a social world rich in opportunities. The more stressed a child, the bigger the impact these external things have on a child’s development.

In your keynote about resilience on the job one of the factors you mention is “The necessity of making workplaces physical and psychologically safe”. What can an employer do to support that?

Resilience is something we plan for. Much like an immunization prepares us for future exposure to disease. Workplaces that are already providing employees with a predictable environment, one which rewards effort but also supports employees as they take risks, that is the type of space one thrives in.

Add to that opportunities to use one’s talents, to have some say over some aspect of one’s work, fair compensation, and a workplace that is free of harassment, and suddenly you have a place where people are going to be much better able to withstand change. They’ll feel like they belong. They’ll share the mission of the business. They may even feel like their success at work tells others they are valuable.

It’s not one thing that makes us safe. It’s the cumulative effect of many things that employers do and the way the work environment is structured that makes the difference during tough times. That’s what resilience is: the capacity of individuals and their workplaces to cope when bad things happen.

Can you give three tips to individuals struggling with resilience in their private life?

  • Before you blame yourself for your problems, look around and see if you can find the supports you need to change the things that are causing your life to be miserable. Being bullied? Find a friend to hang out with. Feeling unmotivated at work? Ask for help to make your work more interesting, or look outside the workplace for opportunities to use your talents.
  • Insist on being treated fairly. Accommodating ourselves to an unjust world is a formula for disaster. We are more resilient when we are treated well and we have the allies to help us gain the respect we need from others.
  • Embrace positive uncertainty. Look for opportunities to make your life more fulfilling.

What kinds of clients have you worked with in the past?

In my private practice I specialized in working with children and families where there has been serious problems like domestic violence, family breakdown, child abuse, and addictions. With organizations, my work has been much more about how to develop systems around people to meet their needs, especially during a crisis.

Whether it was looking at developing mental health services for children in schools, or studying the career pathways of young adults during their 20s, this work has always focused on helping people find environments where they can thrive. Where those environments don’t exist, I’ve worked with health care systems, school boards, and governments to develop coordinated approaches to services that help workers and clients reach their potential.

What types of unique experiences have you had as a result of your profession?

By far, the most interesting part of my work is the travel I do. I get to immerse myself in many different communities from the Arctic of Canada to rural Botswana. I get to see the many varied patterns of resilience in people’s lives and to ask them about the people and services that have made their success possible.

There is something humbling about seeing so many different ways of being resilient. I’m constantly challenging myself to bring what I learn into my own life and to share it with others. Many times I feel like a travelling troubadour, carrying stories of resilience from one community to another, hopefully inspiring new solutions to old problems.

See keynotes with Dr. Michael Ungar
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Keynote topics with Dr. Michael Ungar