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How do registered psychologists understand resilience?

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

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People face adversity and challenges during their lives. Undoubtedly, some encounter challenging situations which place them at risk for serious negative psychological, physical and social consequences. However, not all individuals respond similarly to these types of challenging situations. Some go on to engage in antisocial and risky behaviours while others go on to lead healthy and productive lives. What distinguishes this latter group is the presence of a set of skills which are generally described as resilience. A reason for studying resilience is that it is clear that certain issues (e.g., mental illness) severely limit human potential. Psychologists are one group of professionals who are involved with improving the mental health status of individuals and families as well as working with clients to reduce the risk for antisocial and criminal behaviour. However we know very little about how psychologists understand the precise nature of resilience and whether their interpretation has resulted in varied and often inconsistent approaches when engaging with clients. This study recruited registered psychologists (n= 271) with varying levels of training and expertise. Participants completed an open-ended questionnaire which asked them to define resilience, list at least 2 core components of resilience, and at least 5 constructs that comprise those core components. This paper will present the results of the research and discuss how these results impact on training for clinical staff as well as educate community members about the importance and benefits of resilience.

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