Academic journal article European Journal of Psychotraumatology

Resilience after Trauma: From Surviving to Thriving

Academic journal article European Journal of Psychotraumatology

Resilience after Trauma: From Surviving to Thriving

Article excerpt


Resilience after trauma: from surviving to thriving

This paper is part of the Special Issue: Resilience and Trauma . More papers from this issue can be found at

Published: 1 October 2014

European Journal of Psychotraumatology 2014. © 2014 Nicole R. Nugent et al. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Unported (CC BY 4.0) License (, allowing third parties to copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format, and to remix, transform, and build upon the material, for any purpose, even commercially, under the condition that appropriate credit is given, that a link to the license is provided, and that you indicate if changes were made. You may do so in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests the licensor endorses you or your use.

Citation: European Journal of Psychotraumatology 2014, 5 : 25339 -

Resilience after trauma is one of the most compelling phenomena in contemporary traumatic stress research. To increase the understanding of resilience and its applications to policy, research, assessment, prevention, and intervention in the field of traumatic stress, professionals from across the globe gathered for the 29th annual meeting of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies (ISTSS) themed "Resilience after Trauma: From Surviving to Thriving." In this thematic cluster, we highlight contributions from the plenaries from the 2013 meeting. We hope to find answers to: What is resilience? Who is resilient and what makes them so? How can resilience be fostered in the wake of trauma? What can we learn from highly resilient individuals that will help inform our work with survivors?

The first paper is based on a panel discussion chaired by Dr. Steven Southwick (Southwick et al., 2014). The esteemed panelists, Drs. George Bonanno, Catherine Panter-Brick, Ann Masten, and Rachel Yehuda, had a lively and spirited discussion about how best to approach the definition and scientific study of this important concept. Here, the panelists expand on the discussion points posed by Dr. Southwick. The second paper, written by Dr. Dennis Charney and his colleague Dr. Brian Iacoviello (Iacoviello & Charney, 2014), was inspired by Dr. Charney's moving plenary session that integrated his research on the neurobiology of resilience with real-world examples from his personal interviews with resilient individuals. The third paper is a dialog between Amanda Lindhout, a humanitarian and social activist, and Dr. Katherine Porterfield, a psychologist who has been an important part of Ms. Lindhout's treatment experiences (Lindhout & Porterfield, 2014). At the conference, Ms. Lindhout delivered a poignant personal account of her resilience in the aftermath of her kidnapping, and the related submission is inspired by questions from attendees of her talk. Amanda was a journalist in Somalia when she was kidnapped and held hostage for 460 days. After her release, she enacted the promise she'd made to herself during her captivity by founding the non-profit Global Enrichment Foundation, which provides educational and community-based empowerment programs, as well as humanitarian interventions during crisis. These plenary presentations, and the manuscripts yielded from them, will aid the field's understanding of the many potential trajectories of health following traumatic exposure, ranging from the development of persistent stress-related disorders to posttraumatic growth.

In the perceptive piece contributed by Southwick et al. (2014), Southwick and his co-authors--experts in resilience from different disciplines--tackle the challenging task of answering key questions regarding the nature of resilience. These questions do not have simple answers, and this article offers a thought-provoking discussion about the current state of the field and presents ideas about next steps to further our knowledge about fostering resilience in individuals, families, and communities affected by traumatic stressors. …

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