European Journal of Psychotraumatology (Oct 2014)
Psychosocial facets of resilience: implications for preventing posttrauma psychopathology, treating trauma survivors, and enhancing community resilience
Background: There is a range of potential responses to stress and trauma. Whereas, on one extreme, some respond to stress and trauma by developing psychiatric disorders (e.g., posttraumatic stress disorder, PTSD), on the other extreme are the ones who exhibit resilience. Resilience is broadly defined as adaptive characteristics of an individual to cope with and recover from adversity. Objective: Understanding of the factors that promote resilience is warranted and can be obtained by interviewing and learning from particularly resilient individuals as well as empirical research. In this paper, we discuss a constellation of factors comprising cognitive, behavioral, and existential elements that have been identified as contributing to resilience in response to stress or trauma. Results: The psychosocial factors associated with resilience include optimism, cognitive flexibility, active coping skills, maintaining a supportive social network, attending to one's physical well-being, and embracing a personal moral compass. Conclusions: These factors can be cultivated even before exposure to traumatic events, or they can be targeted in interventions for individuals recovering from trauma exposure. Currently available interventions for PTSD could be expanded to further address these psychosocial factors in an effort to promote resilience. The cognitive, behavioral, and existential components of psychosocial factors that promote individual resilience can also inform efforts to promote resilience to disaster at the community level.