VISTAS Counseling Families and Adults

VISTAS Online is an innovative publication produced for ACA by Dr. Garry R. Walz and Dr. Jeanne C. Bleuer of Counseling Outfitters, LLC. Its purpose is to provide a means of capturing the ideas, information and experiences generated by the annual ACA Conference and selected ACA Division Conferences. Papers on a program or practice that has been validated through research or experience may also be submitted. This digital collection of peer-reviewed articles is authored by counselors, for counselors. VISTAS Online contains the full text of over 900 proprietary counseling articles published from 2004 to 2017.

Reaching Resilience: Protective Factors and Adult Children of Divorce

Denis’ A. Thomas


The U.S. Census Bureau (Fields, 2003) reported that the rate of divorce among couples with children grew from 1970 to 2003, resulting in traditional family households declining from 81% to 68% of all households. Thus, today most Americans have been impacted in some way by parental divorce, their own divorce, or both. Many clients and supervisees have experienced parental divorce, and supervisors need to know how best to help them cope. In 2004, 1.1 million children lived with a parent who had experienced a divorce in the last year (Kreider, 2007). Children of divorce – even as adults – are documented to have poorer outcomes than their counterparts from intact families including more distress (McIntyre, Heron, McIntyre, Burton & Engler, 2003), more conflict with parents (Ruschena, Prior, Sanson, & Smart, 2005), lower expectations for a successful marriage (Kirk, 2002), and poorer academic performance (Mulholland, Watt, Philpott, & Sarlin, 1991). Hetherington, Bridges, and Insabella (1998) reported that children from intact families have a 10% risk rate, while children from divorced families have a 25% risk rate, a two and a half fold increase. Yet, the authors asserted that while the increased risk is very real and present, 75% of children of divorce do not demonstrate poorer levels of functioning. Indeed, some have even been enhanced by parental divorce and develop improved coping skills (Hetherington & Stanley-Hagan, 1999; McIntyre, et al., 2003; Abbey & Dallos, 2004)

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