An exploration of the psychological mechanisms associated with the resilience process of people who are homeless
Homelessness is experienced by considerable numbers of people throughout the UK. Research convincingly demonstrates the multiple and frequent difficulties that people who are homeless face, including: limited support networks, mental and physical health difficulties, problems associated with substance use, and social exclusion. There is a lack of research however, that explores their strengths, resilience, and ability to cope with adversity. Many services arguably parallel this trend and focus on risk management and treatment strategies that target perceived pathology and vulnerability characteristics. The study contributed to strengths-based research and explored the psychological processes associated with a sense of manageability of people who were homeless. This unique line of research enquiry was guided by the study’s systematic review. In-depth interviews were conducted with eight adult males who temporarily resided at a homeless hostel in Wales. Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis was used to identify themes. Processes that both enhanced and detracted from manageability were inferred. In particular, self-efficacy and self-esteem seemed important to sustain and promote the well-being of participants, and influenced actions towards future transition out of homelessness. There was evidence to suggest that these constructs were closely associated with participants’ relationship experiences. The study supports the core components of Rutter’s (1985; 2013) conceptualization of resilience. Intervention strategies were discussed in relation to the findings, but primarily, services were encouraged to promote supportive relationships for homeless people, as these can foster self-efficacy and self-esteem processes that are hypothesised to mediate resilience, and encourage people’s social inclusion. Further culturally sensitive research of resilience processes is recommended.