My Resilience Journey
Adversity is a fact of life. However, we all have some capacity to recover after being subjected to it, generally regarded as resilience. Psychologists have identified some of the factors that make a person resilient. These include having a positive attitude, being generally optimistic, the regulation of emotions and the ability to see failure as a helpful form of feedback. More specifically, psychological resilience has been defined as “the ability to cope with a crisis or to return to pre-crisis status quickly”. and “Resilience exists when the person uses mental processes and behaviours in promoting personal assets and protecting self from the potential negative effects of stressors". And “Resilience is being able to withstand or overcome adversity and unpleasant events and successfully adapt to change and uncertainty”.
An early discussion of a resilience model identified resilience as goal directed, risk avoidant, understanding critical situations, having information and resources, constructive perceptions, perform positive adaptive behaviours, creative problem solving, tolerance for uncertainty and having multiple skills (virtual role systems).
My interest in resilience stems from a period of five years of my military service attached to and advising the Australian Special Air Services Regiment on the selection and assessment of potential SAS soldiers. I travelled with the Commanding Officer and Regimental Sergeant Major to most infantry bases assessing and interviewing potential SAS members. The selection process was a very arduous physical, emotional and intellectual examination of fitness, strength, endurance and resolve.
Then during my last Army posting I was the Australian representative on the Technical Cooperation program of Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain, Canada and the USA. This led to an interest in resilience research and follow up membership of the International Military Psychology Symposium series where i presented my original and subsequent papers on resilience.
Years later I was a volunteer firefighter with the Country Fire Authority in Victoria for five years and was on duty during the Black Saturday fires devastated much of country Victoria, The fires occurred during extreme bush fire weather conditions and resulted in Australia's highest-ever loss of human life from a bushfire, with 173 fatalities. Many people were left homeless as a result.
During ten years of private psychology practice I subsequently conducted a series of research programs finalising in the development of the Adult Resilience Scale in 2010. I eventually produced an on line version which was further developed and is now available world wide through a very productive association with the Australian Council for Educational Research.