What is Resilience?

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An integral part of our journey has been to understand what human resilience is, what the most effective ways to grow it are, and how we can best communicate this information to others.

As a complex human experience and process, it is challenging to define human resilience. And yet, this field requires working definitions to encompass and inform our collective work.

As we’ve learned more through robust discussions with researchers and practitioners in diverse areas of human services, our definition of resilience has changed over time. In collaboration with organizations working in preparedness and trauma response, student resilience, military-connected resilience, and public health, we have crafted these working definitions:

Psychological Trauma

A strong response to a severely distressing event or series of events that overwhelms a person’s ability to cope and has adverse effects on functioning and well-being.

Trauma Informed Care

A framework that actively understands and responds to the effects of trauma, free from restraint, coercion, or seclusion, in ways that minimize re-traumatization and emphasize the holistic safety of both participants and practitioners.

Human Resilience

the capacity to prepare for, adapt to, and grow through trauma, disruption, or loss.

We also have collaboratively developed models that seek to provide a more detailed understanding of human resilience as a process of not only surviving a traumatic disruption but even thriving as a result of the experience.

We hope these definitions serve as the foundation to a common language of human resilience that helps us in our collective mission to support people and communities to prepare for and respond to today’s greatest challenges with strength.