Learning to be Resilient

Does surviving traumatic situations make people stronger?  A recent research study investigating suicide rates following the L’Aquila earthquake that struck central Italy in 2009 actually showed a lower number of suicides in the years that followed.   Though most people are going to encounter a major traumatic experience at least once in their lives and we are all bombarded by daily “hassles” on a regular basis, how we respond to stress can vary widely.   Even in extremely negative situations involving poverty, physical and verbal abuse, and parental mental illness, there are still going to be children who somehow manage to cope and even thrive successfully.   Early research looking at protective factors that allow some people to cope better than others have identified a key quality in these cases that has been labeled psychological resilience.

While researchers have agreed on a common label, the various definitions of resilience have been very different.  A review of resilience research published recently in European Psychologist lists as many as nine different definitions given by researchers looking at resilience including:  “The process of, capacity for, or outcome of successful adaptation despite challenging or threatening circumstances’’, “The personal qualities that enables one to thrive in the face of adversity’’, and “The capacity of individuals to cope successfully with significant change, adversity or risk’’.

To read more, check out my new Psychology Today blog post. 


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