1st European Congress on Resiliency

Tim Guénard, stronger than hate

The Risk Management Research Center, which depends of the University of Barcelona organized on October 20 – 22, at the Bellaterra University Campus, the first European congress on Resiliency, the theme of which was: “Growing Despite Adversity”

Does Dianova’s Therapeutic and Educational Model Promote Resiliency?

“Like father, like son” they used to say… I spent many years trying to justify myself to have the will to change… Tim Guénard roams through conference centers and schools to tell about his own story and explain that, yes it is possible to overcome the harshest life events.
Tim was abandoned by his mother at an early age, then he was abused by his father before going through dozens of institutions and reformatory centers. He lived on the streets, he robbed and was raped, to end up in jail.

But he could eventually change his life.

Dianova has a vision of its services that is itself a declaration of intentions: with appropriate support, each person will be able to find within him/herself the resources necessary to achieve success in her/his personal development and social integration.

Our writings advocate a positive view of adolescence (1). Our public presentations show how much respect and mutual trust between the professional staff and the beneficiaries can promote a positive change and personal growth.

Is this viewpoint shared by all staff members?

I was listening Tim’s remarks: “Some words may be harder than blows. Those who abused me the most were the educators who told me: “In your case, it’s all genetics. Parents who abuse children will produce abusive parents. Another runaway? This one will never, ever change.” Those hurt me much more than my parents ever did”…

I was then remembering our internal debates about the necessity to be “tolerant” with our teens.

When confronted to the most demanding profiles among the youth we care for, it appears that our professional teams lack of reference tools. This is the reason why we should remember that our intervention model’s basic principles come from a therapeutic or bioethical intervention culture (do no harm, self-reliance, justice).

Our educational and therapeutic model’s greatest value relies on our staff’s good judgment and on our conviction that it represents a key-element to promote change.

Our basic responsibility consists of providing emotional education, an approach which goes much farther than the sole “social education”. It consists of showing the adolescents how to forgive, to help them build themselves in order to accept and be accepted, to help them believe in themselves and in their capabilities so they can start building their own future.

In other words, it consists of designing a process to provide meaning

“I had never realized that I was a good person until someone told me. A Judge did. And then I started to make efforts, for her” says Tim Guénard.

At Dianova, we work with youth that are in emotional and social breakdown. This is why we cannot accept , amongst our professional teams, any stigmatization whatsoever of individuals or behaviors.

On the contrary, we must question all the elements that may reduce our model to mere meaningless, educational routines.

“This is not the quantity of relationships that gives meaning to life, but the quality of relationships and the human kindness that we should all share” (Francesc Torralba)

Lucía Muñiz
Supervisor of Dianova Monitoring Center

(1) Apellániz, A.; Gómez, M.; Moreno, M.C.; Muñiz, L.  “La intervención educativo- Terapéutica para  menores con problemas de consumo en los centros residenciales” in “Autores Varios” (2010), A Workbook in Residencial Facilities: the Methodology of Therapeutic Communities, Madrid, Fundación Atenea/UNED, 2010 (to be printed in Spanish).