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Prof Adrian van Breda

Prof Adrian van Breda
Department of Social Work

Contact Details
C-Ring 619B
+27 (0)11 559 2804

 Professor Adrian van Breda trained as a clinical social worker at UCT, and did his doctorate at RAU in multicultural scale development. His research focus is resilience theory – how people, particularly individuals, families and organisations, bounce back from adversity, or even thrive in the face of adversity. Initially he studied the resilience of families having to deal with the repeated disruptions of family members travelling for work. He is currently doing much of his research with Girls and Boys Town, looking at the processes that youth follow as they transition out of the care of the child welfare system and journey towards independent living. He has four dozen accredited publications to his name, as well as two books.

Adrian teaches introduction to social work and casework at undergraduate levels, and clinical practice and mental health at postgraduate levels. He is the coordinator of the Masters in Clinical Social Work. He also supervises postgraduate students within his primary research areas, viz. resilience, youth transitions and care-leaving.

He is the editor of the Southern African Journal of Social Work and Social Development and serves on the Board of the Centre for Social Development in Africa. He is President of ASASWEI (the Association of South African Social Work Higher Education Institutions), Vice President of Resilio (The International Association for the Promotion and Dissemination of the Research on Resilience), a member of the Professional Board for Social Work, and a member of the Ecometrics Panel of the SA Council for Social Service Professions. He was the recipient of a three-year NRF grant (2015-2017) towards his research on Youth Transitions out of Care towards Independent Living. He is a C2 NRF rated researcher (2017-2022).

Research Interests

Primary: Resilience; youth transitions; care-leaving

Secondary: Occupational social work; scale development; clinical social work


MA (Clinical Social Work) UCT
D Lit et Phil RAU

Recent Publications

Van Breda, A. D. (2018). An exploration of complex longitudinal relationships between care factors and post-care outcomes in South Africa. Children Australia, 43(2), 152-161.

Van Breda, A. D. (2018). Resilience of vulnerable students transitioning into a South African university. Higher Education, 75(6), 1109-1124.

Van Breda, A. D. (2018). The first two years out of residential care in South Africa: A critical period for care-leaving services. Child Welfare, 95(6), 63-82.

Van Breda, A. D. (2018). A critical review of resilience theory and its relevance for social work. Social Work / Maatskaplikewerk, 54(1), 1-18.

Van Breda, A. D. (2018). Developmental social case work: A process model. International Social Work, 61(1), 66-78.

Van Breda, A. D. (2018, online). Research review: Aging out of residential care in South Africa. Child and Family Social Work, doi: 10.1111/cfs.12431

Van Breda, A. D. (2018, online). Reclaiming resilience for social work: A reply to Garrett. British Journal of Social Work. doi:10.1093/bjsw/bcy010

Nurcombe-Thorne, A., Nadesan, V. S., & Van Breda, A. D. (2018, online). Experiences of 'I' and 'we' among former looked-after children in South Africa. Child  and Family Social  Work. doi:10.1111/cfs.12456

Van der Spuy, C., & Van Breda, A. D. (2018, online). An exploratory study on the use of Eye Movement Integration therapy for treating trauma in early childhood in South Africa. Child Care in Practice. doi:10.1080/13575279.2018.1441126

Van Breda, A. D., & Dickens, L. F. (2017). The contribution of resilience to one-year independent living outcomes of care-leavers in South Africa. Children and Youth Services Review, 83, 264-273.

Van Breda, A. D. (2017). The Youth Ecological-Resilience Scale: A partial validation. Research on Social Work Practice, 27(2), 248-257.

Van Breda, A. D. (2017). A comparison of youth resilience across seven South African sites. Child & Family Social Work, 22(1), 226–235.

Van Breda, A. D. (2017). Students are humans too: Psychosocial vulnerability of first-year students at the University of Johannesburg. South African Journal of Higher Education, 31(5), 14-30.

Mmusi, F. & Van Breda, A. D. (2017). Male care-Leavers' transfer of social skills from care into independent living in South Africa. Children and Youth Services Review, 81, 350-357.

Pinkerton, J., & Van Breda, A. D. (forthcoming). Leaving care policy as scaffolding for resilience. In V. R. Mann-Feder & M. Goyette (Eds.), Leaving care and the transition to adulthood: Oxford University Press.

Social Work areas that are of interest 

Clinical social work practice, social work education

Message to students

I am committed to providing social work education that is of the highest quality and that is relevant and useful. I was a practitioner long before I was an academic, and my feet remain rooted in the field. I am demanding and not easily satisfied, but I am also supportive and invested in your development. If you are interested in growing as a social worker, whether at undergraduate or postgraduate levels, we'll get along well! I hope that you leave any encounter with me feeling that you have been attended to and stretched.

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