This book offers an accessible and evidence-based approach for professional staff to improve their interactions with vulnerable people. Drawing upon contemporary research from a broad array of disciplines, including psychology, sociology, economics, biology and the neurosciences, it demonstrates how vulnerability and resilience are not fixed personality traits, as is commonly assumed, but rather fluid and dynamic states that result from inhibitory and developmental factors that reside within individuals and their external environments.

Each chapter focuses on factors that create vulnerability and those that promote resilience with reference to important subjects, such as child development, epigenetics, trauma, shame, addiction, poverty, emotional intelligence, personality, empathy, compassion and behaviour-change. Attention is given to the role of positive, early life experiences in creating an internal working model of the world that is based on trust, intimacy and hope and how the root causes of vulnerability often lie in the cyclical relationship that exists between child maltreatment, trauma and socially deprived environments that cumulatively act to keep people locked in states of inter-generational poverty. The author explores pressing and important workplace issues, such as occupational stress and burnout, and highlights the urgent need for compassionate systems of management that are functionally equipped to address human error, stress and trauma in complex professional arenas where staff are continually exposed to other peoples’ suffering. The book also demonstrates how strategies and processes which coerce individuals and groups into changing their behaviour are generally counterproductive and it explains how resilient change is invariably supported by strategies that enhance trust, cooperation, personal control and self-efficacy.

This book will benefit professional staff, including health, emergency and social services, humanitarian workers, counsellors and therapists, as well as students who want to learn more about the conceptual frameworks that explain vulnerability and resilience.

part One|68 pages


chapter Chapter 1|15 pages

Defining vulnerability

chapter Chapter 2|22 pages

How vulnerability is created and maintained

chapter Chapter 3|11 pages

Vulnerability and childhood

chapter Chapter 4|18 pages

The psychological impact of vulnerability

part Two|109 pages


chapter Chapter 5|10 pages

Defining resilience

chapter Chapter 6|22 pages

The family environment and resilience

chapter Chapter 7|23 pages

Intelligence, emotion and compassion

chapter Chapter 8|16 pages

When compassion fails

chapter Chapter 9|26 pages

Resilience and poverty

chapter Chapter 10|10 pages

Behaviour change and resilience

chapter |2 pages