When I hear the word “vulnerable,” a stream of thought comes to mind. Initially, associations are pretty concerning and dark, but the longer I think about them, the more positive meanings appear in my head. First, I think about vulnerable populations and the challenges that occur in their lives. Nonetheless, second thought reveals the strength and inseparable bond between people of a particularly vulnerable population.
Three positive words associated with the word “vulnerable” are power, collaboration, and development. Three negative words associated with the word “vulnerable” are weakness, fear, and disadvantage.
Vulnerable populations are a notion describing groups of people who suffer from some sort of disadvantage. The vulnerability may be connected, among other things, to race, ethnicity, income, age, health condition, and environment. Refugees and victims of natural disasters are examples of vulnerable populations. People with chronic health conditions or HIV/AIDS are a vulnerable population. Racial minorities, homeless, uninsured, economically disadvantaged, and drug addicts are also examples of such groups of people.
The strengths-based approach focuses not on limitations and deficits but the individual strengths. This approach functions as a protective mechanism and promotes well-being, fostering resilience by developing coping skills.
When I hear the word “resilient,” a lot of words come to my mind: strong, adaptable, tough, flexible, steady. This word emphasizes human strength, the ability to face a challenge, adapt to any circumstances, cope with hardships and deal with problems. According to McDonald-Harker et al., “resilience emphasizes processes that occur at multiple levels, consisting of individual, relationship, community and cultural factors interacting to produce positive developmental outcomes among individuals experiencing significant adversity” (1900). I associate “resilient” with the words “unstoppable” and “invincible” as well because it reflects over inner power, will, and readiness to stay strong and move on.
McDonald-Harker, Caroline, et al. “A strength-based approach to exploring factors that contribute to resilience among children and youth impacted by disaster.” The British Journal of Social Work, vol. 51, no. 5, 2021, pp. 1897-1916.