What is Resilience?

What is Resilience?

Many people have encountered an adverse experience at some point in their lives. Yet, some bounce back quickly while others endure the negativity for a longer duration. The distinguishing factor is the level of resilience. Resilience has been widely defined as the ability to adapt to the changing environment and bounce back from adversity and personal setbacks. In clinical and psychiatric contexts, resilience has also been recognised as a measure of stress coping ability. 

Resilience has also been expressed as competence as it embodies the personal qualities of an individual that enable them to thrive in the difficult circumstances. It is a different construct to personality, but our research suggests that resilient people adapt more successfully in response to major life events and traumatic experiences. Research also shows that Resilience is not necessarily related to cognition, or intelligence.

Resilience can be seen as an everyday process. Each stage can occur at a different time. Individuals perceive the situation, adjust to it in a variety of ways, assess options – objectively (norms, people, cognitive search, more options is better), choose an action depending on the assessment and apply coping mechanisms. The process of recovery can then take place. A malfunction at any stage can impair or prevent later resilience processes.

The Adult Resilience Test was based on extensive research from military and civilian operational occupations and utilised a large international database. There was significant item analysis and review, resulting in a 75 item scale measuring five dimensions. The Adult Resilience Test pays particular attention to ‘Threat Perception’ which provides a context for the behaviour and emotions. This is because people can be resilient in some situations but not in others. 

Resilient man climbing building
Resilient woman standing proudly on water


The five Dimensions of Resilience measured by the Adults Resilience Test are:

  • Threat Perception – perceptive ability or situational awareness, awareness of potential or actual problem or threat and formulating a plan to continue (being aware of the situation and noticing problems when they arise)
  • Adjustment – able to adjust when unexpected events cause disruption, assessment of recovery options, flexibility and openness to new circumstances (being flexible and open to new circumstances, recognising when a new approach to a problem is needed)
  • Decision Making – decision making of recovery action, able to make clear decisions when in stressful situations (making good decisions under pressure, assessing the available options and choosing one that is most conducive to recovering from the problem)
  • Coping – capacity to deal with difficult issues as they arise, put stressful events into perspective, operation of one’s recovery coping mechanisms and accepting that a change in approach or strategy is required, so that stressful events are less likely to have a negative impact (enacting the option chosen, applying the chosen actions to the problem at hand)
  • Recovery – planning effectively and returning to normal activity quickly after hardship or negative situations(regaining strength and resilience after the problem is dealt with)

which all contribute to Overall Resilience (the ability to continue to succeed in difficult situations)

What can I do about it?

After taking the test online you will receive the results of your overall resilience level and your assessment of resilience in all of the five dimensions. You then have the option of further feedback by taking a workshop. You may also wish to attend a resilience retreat where you can further explore your resilience and develop a strategy for building individual resilience.

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