Better for it: how people benefit from adversity


Better for it: how people benefit from adversity


McMillen JC



Social Work




Humans; Life Change Events; Social Work; Internal-External Control; P.H.S.; Research Support; U.S. Gov't; Adaptation; Psychological; Survivors/psychology; Psychiatric


Recently, researchers in several different fields have discovered that people who have experienced seriously adverse events frequently report that they were positively changed by the experience. Respondents in these studies typically have reported a variety of different benefits and have reported that they also were harmed by the same experiences. The research suggests several processes that may account for these reports of benefit: purposeful changes in life structure, changes in views of others and the world that result from the experience of vulnerability, the receipt of needed support, and the search for meaning in adversity. Thinking about benefits may help survivors of traumatic events process painful information. This article offers guidance on how to introduce and manage benefit content within a therapeutic relationship and encourages social workers to cautiously reflect clients' unstated benefits, encourage self-assessments in areas where benefits may accrue, explore any benefits discovered, and help clients plan for positive changes. This process converges well with the strengths perspective and constructivist approaches to social work practice.


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Journal Article

Citation List Month



McMillen JC, “Better for it: how people benefit from adversity,” Pediatric Palliative Care Library, accessed December 2, 2023,