Chapter 8: Understanding Coping in Context

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Stress and adaptation framework

influential theoretical framework in psychology that examines the role of life experience in adaptational outcomes; comprehensive ecological model that is consistent with a community psychology paradigm; stress is an ecological concept because it involves understanding people in their contexts

Basic conceptual framework with stress

distal personal and contextual factors >>> proximal stressors and stress reactions >>> internal and external resources (i.e. coping and social support) >>> adaptational outcomes (physical, psychological, functional)

The role of context in the stress process

social context, cultural context, environmental context

Social context

sociopolitical environment; social networks

Cultural context

ethnocultural traditions, beliefs, practices; larger societal culture

Environmental context

specific settings (work, home, neighborhood)

Context and the stress process

these contexts influence stressor intensity, stressor frequency, stressor exposure, meaning of the stressor, coping options, coping effectiveness, availability and use of supports

Individual factors

genetic vulnerability, temperament, cognitive abilities, physiological factors, gender, race/ethnicity, personality traits, prior life experiences, ongoing inidividual conditions

Contextual factors

country, geographic location, sociopolitical factors, climate, population density, cultural contexts, ongoing conditions of living, social climate, relational dynamics

Risk processes (or factors)

are correlated with problematic individual outcomes such as personal distress, mental disorders, or behavior problems

Protective processes (or factors)

are strenghts or resources associated with positive individual outcomes

Distal factors

are predisposing processes, which directly and indirectly shape stressors, resources, coping processes, and outcomes; they are distal in relation to stress reactions and coping

Proximal processes

are more immediately related to stress and coping; include precipitating stressors such as bereavement or a natural disaster and resources activated for coping

Stressors

stimuli that influence various outcome states; life experiences and conditions of life; person-environment transactions reflecting external demands or circumstances; tax or exceed existing personal and social resources; vary in duration, severity, quantity, personal meaning, and point of impact; threaten or result in harm or loss

Types of stressors

ambient/chronic stressors (distal), life events, life transitions, daily hassles, disasters

Ambiant/chronic stressors

relatively stable conditions of the physical and social environment, the circumstances of one's life; considered distal factors and create risk for exposure to proximal stressors; dont go easily or quickly

Examples of ambient/chronic stressors

living in a high-crime neighborhood; being a single mother; toxic pollution; physical condition of home, school, workplace; homelessness

Types of chronic stressors

role-related stressors; multiple role demands; role conflict; status-based stressors

Role-related stressors

stressors that emerge from the roles we occupy in life (eg parent, student, CEO)

Multiple role demands

simultaneous stressors emerging from having multiple roles; cumulative in nature

Role conflict

stressors emerging from conflicts in time, commitments, expectations in different roles

Status-based stressors

stressors that emerge from the status groups we belong to (SES, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity); can be related to isms

Life events

discrete, generally time-limited incidents with a beginning and an end

Examples of life events

death of a family member, break-up of a relationship, failing a test, being fired from a job, being assaulted, being evicted, being arrested

Life transitions

events associated with developmentally related phases of life; typically require learning new skills and roles

Examples of life transitions

starting a new level of school, graduation, getting married, having a baby, retirement

Daily hassles

short-term, small scale incidents that require adjustment; often emerge from life events, life transitions, or chronic stressors

Examples of daily hassles

losing keys, traffic jam, baby spitting up on work clothes in the morning, forgetting to bring homework to class

Disasters

large-scale events that effect entire communities, regions, or nations; can have effect on physical and mental health, family functioning, social dynamics, shelter and safety, etc..examples: 9/11, hurricane katrina, war in iraq

Example of interrelationship of stressors

certain life events are more likely when particular chronic stressors are presenty

Vicious spirals

an interlocking and cascading pattern of multiple stressors where each subsequent stressor emerges from a previous stressor

Dimensions of stressors

predictable - unpredictable; controllable - uncontrollable; desirable - undesirable; chosen - imposed

Resources/mediators

resources/protective factors (material, social, and personal factors that promote health and can buffer the impact of stress exposure on well-being; associated with positive adaptational outcomes); resources are interrelated; resources are often determined by contextual, cultural, and sociopolitical factors; resources can simultaneously be a source of stress

Material resources

aspects of teh physical environment or tangible factors that can be purchased or provided by others

Examples of material resources

money, food, transportation

Personal/social-economic resources

individual skills, competencies, characteristics and belief that promote adaptive coping

Examples of personal/social-emotional resources

social skills, empathy, time-management skills, problem-solving skills, optimism, self-esteem

Social, cultural, and spiritual resources

persons, processes, and settings that provide emotional support, role modelling, guidance, community connections, status, power, or systems of meaning for interpreting stressors

Examples of social, cultural, and spiritual resources

friends and family; counselor or religious advisor; cultural traditions, beliefs, rituals, narratives; group/microsystems; specific programs; recreation center

Social support

availability and utilization of interpersonal connections to manage stress; lots of research indicates that social support is strongly related to decreased physical and psychological illness and positive well-being

Two major forms of social support

generalized support, specific support

Generalized support

(perceived support) ongoing sense of being cared for, belongingness, and acceptence; perceived support; group context and personal context

Group context of generalized support

social integration, sense of community, breadth of support networks

Personal context of generalized support

emotional support within the context of close relationships; depth of support networks

Specific support

or enacted support; encouragement, tangible support, informational support, companionship support

Encouragement and support

motivation, task-focused reassurance

Tangible support

concrete assistance, material resources

Information support

advice, guidance

Companionship support

participation in joint activities, spending time together

Sources of support

family, friends, fictive kin, natural helpers/mentors, role-based relationships, professional helpers, neighbors, members of communities or identity groups

Issues in social support

relationships can be supportive and stressful; multidimensional vs unidimensional; reciprocity; density

Mutual help groups

voluntary associations of persons who share some type of status, experience, difficulties

Forms of mutual help groups

self-help groups, mutual support groups, online mutual help groups

Key features of mutual help groups

focal concern, peer relationships, reciprocity of helping, helper therapy principle, experential knowledge, generate community naratives

Coping responses

strategies to deal with the impact of the stressor in one's life

Primary dimensions of coping

problem-focused/emotion-focused; individual/collective; prosocial/antisocial

Problem-focused coping

strategies that address the stressor directly; active, goal-oriented strategies; most effective when the stressor is controllable

Behavior forms of problem-focused coping

seeking information, increased effort, conflict resolution, utilizing resources

Cognitive forms of problem-focused copoing

planning, analying, decision-making

Emotion-focused coping

strategies that address the emotions that accompany the stressor, not the stressor itself

Examples of emotion-focused coping

expression emotions, venting; exercise; escae and distraction; meditation and prayer; food, drugs, alcohol; denial

Meaning-focused coping

strategies that attempt to find meaning in teh stressor through reappraisal; often leads to growh or learning important lessons; can be based on spiritual beliefs or on a person's philosophy of living

Exapmles of meaning-focused coping

connecting suffering to one's faith being tested, seeing failure as feedback

Spirituality and coping

kenneth pargament; spiritual coping can help make sense of the "incomprehensible, unfathomable, uncontrollable"; religious and spiritual beliefs can also lead to negative outcomes

Specific spiritual coping methods

feeling a strong relationship with a loving and trustworthy God; specific activities such as prayer, reading spiritual texts, listening to spiritual music; seeking and receiving support from members of one's spiritual community; religious reappraisal

Religious reappraisal

suffering brings a person closer to god or builds strenghts

Research on spiritual-religious coping

utilized more intensely in uncontrollable situations; often related to positive health and psychological outcomes; women, low income, elderly, widowed, adn african americans feel it is mroe useful than other groups (may be related to less access to secular sources of power and resources); negative effects include self-blame and being shunned from one's religious community

Virtuous spirals

adaptive coping may initiate this, in which resources are increased, successes build on each other, adn the stressor is transformed into a catalyst from growth

Interpersonal dimension of coping

prosocial and antisocial coping

Prosocial coping

strategies that reflect positive interpersonal behavior; caring for others, building relationships, seeking support, considering others in decision-making

Antisocial coping

strategies that reflect negative interpersonal behavior; impulsive behaviors, aggressive acts, disregard the consequences for others

Individual coping strategies

strategies that focus on the effect of the stressor on oneself and one's life; aimed at reducing personal harm and distress

Collective coping strategies

strategies that focus on the larger and future implications of the stressor; actions to eliminate the stressor or the conditions that caused it so that others don't experience it

Interventions that promote coping

social and policy advocacy, organizational consultation, alternative settings, community coalitions, crisis intervention, collaboration with community resources, case management

Positive coping outcomes

wellness, resilience, thriving, social embeddedness, empowerement

Wellness

life satisfaction, self-esteem, happiness, achievement

Resilience

maintaining or returning to prior level of health and functioning

Thriving

a growth process that takes peaple beyond prior level of functioning and wellness

Social embeddedness

closer ties to family, friends, groups, communities

Empowerment

increased access to and utilization of values resources

Social and policy advocacy

improvemtn in teh well-being of large numbers of persons involves advocacy for community or social change, or for changes in specific policies of macrosystems, localities, and organizations

Organizational consultation

community and organization psychologiests consult with these settings, seeking to: change organizational polices; alter organizational roles, decision making, or communication; or deal with issues such as work-family relationships, human diversity and intergroup conflict

Alternative settings

at times, the limitations of an agency, clinic, or other setting may be so great that citizens or professionals form an alternative setting to serve clients in a different way

Community coalitions

this approach involves bringing together representatives from a local community to address issues

Prevention and promotion programs

these seek to reduce the incidence of personal problems in living, mental disorders, adn illness, or to promote health, personal development or academic achievement

Crisis intervention

immediately after the traumatic events focus on providing emotional support, practical assistance, information about coping, and encouraging later use of one's own sources of support and treatment if needed

Collaboration with community resources

community resources are outside treatment systems; these inclusde mutual help groups, consumer advocates, women's services, spiritual and religious settings, indigenous healers and elders, and holistic health practitioners

Multidimensionality

relationships in which the two persons involved do a number of things togehter and share a number of role relationships

Density

the extent of relationships between the persons in your network other than you

Reciprocity

the extent to which the individual both receives support from others and provides it to others

Helper therapy principle

providing aid to others promotes one's own well-being

Experential knowledge

is based on teh personal experiences of group members who have coped with the focal concern

Community narratives

expressing in story form a description and explanaiton of the focal problem, and an explicit guide to recovery or to coping

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