Using the Possible Me Tree Model to Identify Resilience Enabling Relationships for Young People Exiting Residential Care




care leavers, possible me tree model, possible selves, phenomenological design, relationships, resilience


The importance of relationships for young people exiting residential care is noted extensively in the care-leaving literature. Helpful and supportive relationships cushion care leavers as they exit the statutory system and provide a network of supports that may develop resilience, facilitate their journeys into independence, and contribute towards better outcomes for young people who have experienced care. However, the available literature suggests that social workers are not skilled at identifying relationships that young people in care consider to be important. This article draws on a qualitative study conducted in four Child and Youth Care Centres in Eastern Cape, South Africa. This was a qualitative study using a phenomenological design. Twelve participants were interviewed using the possible me tree model, which requires participants to draw a tree with three aspects of their future selves. The participants were interviewed using a semi-structured interview schedule which included relationship specific questions. The young people identified relationships with their care workers, relatives, sports coach/es, and partner and partner’s family as significant. From this it may be suggested that the possible me tree may be used to identify relationships that young people regard as important, and which may serve as resilience enablers. It is recommended that more studies using this approach, which include a longitudinal component, would add to this initial study.


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How to Cite

Bond, Sue. 2023. “Using the Possible Me Tree Model to Identify Resilience Enabling Relationships for Young People Exiting Residential Care”. Southern African Journal of Social Work and Social Development 35 (3):18 pages.



Received 2022-02-25
Accepted 2023-05-09
Published 2023-09-21