Academic journal article European Journal of Psychotraumatology

Bouncing Forward of Young Refugees: A Perspective on Resilience Research Directions

Academic journal article European Journal of Psychotraumatology

Bouncing Forward of Young Refugees: A Perspective on Resilience Research Directions

Article excerpt


Bouncing forward of young refugees: a perspective on resilience research directions

Marieke Sleijpen1,2*, F. Jackie June ter Heide1,3, Trudy Mooren1,3, Hennie R. Boeije4 and Rolf J. Kleber1,3

1Foundation ARQ, Diemen, the Netherlands; 2Department of Clinical & Health Psychology, Utrecht University, Utrecht, the Netherlands; 3Foundation Centrum'45, Diemen, the Netherlands; 4Department of Methodology and Statistics, Utrecht University, Utrecht, the Netherlands


While studies on the consequences of trauma and forced migration on young refugees have focused mainly on their pathology, a focus on resilience in young refugees is needed to adequately represent their response to adversity and to help understand their needs. The aim of this article is to present a proposed study of resilience in young refugees which has been informed by an overview of achievements and challenges in the field of resilience.

In order to advance the field of resilience, several topics need clarification: definition and assessment of resilience, the relation of resilience to other constructs and the underlying biological and external factors influencing resilience. With respect to young refugees, the cross-cultural applicability of resilience has to be examined. Qualitative research, mixed method designs, comparative studies, and longitudinal studies seem especially promising in furthering this goal.

The proposed study compares refugee adolescents with Dutch adolescents. Data from qualitative evidence synthesis, interviews, questionnaires, experiments, and DNA analysis will be combined to provide a multifaceted picture of factors contributing to resilience, resulting in a better understanding and efficient use of "resilience" to meet the needs of traumatised youth.

Keywords: refugees; youth; trauma; resilience; mixed methods research

*Correspondence to: Marieke Sleijpen, Foundation Arq & Utrecht University, Nienoord, 10, 1112 XE Diemen, The Netherlands, Tel: +31 (0)20 627 49 74, Fax: +31 (0)20 625 35 89, Email:

For the abstract or full text in other languages, please see Supplementary files under Article Tools online

This paper is part of the thematic cluster Psychotrauma research in the Netherlands - more papers from this cluster can be found at

Received: 16 November 2012; Revised: 28 March 2013; Accepted: 1 April 2013; Published: 2 May 2013

European Journal of Psychotraumatology 2013. © 2013 Marieke Sleijpen et al. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License (, permitting all non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Citation: European Journal of Psychotraumatology 2013, 4 : 20124 -

War and persecution around the world force children and adolescents to leave their own country. In 2011, more than 876,000 people worldwide appealed for refugee status, 34% of whom were younger than 18 years (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 2012). Many of these young refugees will grow up to be a part of Western society, shaping its future. Young refugees need to rapidly adapt to changing societal conditions. After their flight, besides having to deal with an often traumatic history, they encounter complex legal immigration processes as well as social, cultural, and linguistic differences between their region of origin and their new setting (e.g., Fazel, Reed, Panter-Brick, & Stein, 2012). It is important to not only understand the consequences of the ordeals that young refugees are faced with but also to examine the factors that are related to resilience and growth in the face of adversity. …

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