Resilience and trauma: Expanding definitions, uses, and contexts

Jennifer McCleary, Charles Figley

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorial

3 Scopus citations


Resilience concepts have gained widespread use in scholarship and practice, yet definitions, measures, and uses of resilience remain complex and multifaceted. Resilience has been described as both an outcome and a process and has been used to refer to both individuals and communities. Scholars have also critiqued resilience theories and practice models as being difficult to define, too heavily focused on individual psychometric properties, and obscuring structural causes of adversity. While there are significant and powerful benefits to a more strengths-based approach to trauma and recovery, vague and contradictory definitions and critical questioning of the social justice consequences of a reliance on resilience indicate a need for continued interrogation of the concept of resilience in trauma scholarship. A host of disciplines from social work to psychology to family social science incorporate resilience concepts into their knowledge bases and are all well positioned to engage in a critical conversation about the definition, utility, and future of the concept. This special issue is a collection of 14 articles that contribute to the discourse of trauma through the resilience lens. Most of the articles in this special issue report on original research that examines issues relevant to trauma psychology and trauma practice. The others add to the discourse on the mechanisms that account for how and why we are resilient following traumatic events and how best to prepare for and thrive after the next traumatic event.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-3
Number of pages3
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2017


  • Resilience
  • Theory
  • Trauma

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