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Putting Resilience at the Center

Updated: Sep 28, 2021

Just like our brain and body adapt for the traumatic environment in which we find ourselves, experiencing felt safety helps us adapt and grow beyond it.

That is to say, resilience can be learned.

In 1993, Valentine and Feinauer conducted a study and found these Top Five Resilience Factors below to be key to moving on from a traumatic environment instead of recreating it. These resilience factors have helped adults and youth even develop the skills they needed to escape traumatic situations.

I love them because they are actually helpful for all of us. When these resilience factors are present in our lives, we are better able to connect safely with others and create the environments we want — whether we have experienced trauma or not.

The Top Five Resilience Factors:

  1. Agency: Voice and Choice This is about having power with others, so that together you have the power to accomplish your goals. It is the opposite of trauma, which is power over.

  2. Self-Esteem: Has three parts:

    1. Our sense of self, which are our personal preferences and the root of our ability to say no.

    2. Our sense of self-worth, which is to feel loved and valued.

    3. Our sense of self-efficacy, which is our ability to effect change and make things happen.

  3. External Supports: Anyone or anything that helps us feel safe, like people, animals, beliefs, and even our imagination.

  4. Affiliation: Feeling safe and connected to a group that is contributing toward a positive goal.

  5. Positive Connections with Safe Adults: Especially those in positions of authority.

So, how might you put the Top Five Resilience Factors at the center of a growth or healing journey for yourself, those you love, or those you support?

Interested in becoming Trauma Responsive Care Certified? Register here:

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