Document Type

Journal Article


The college of Community Psychologists of the Australain Psychological Society Ltd


Faculty of Computing, Health and Science


School of Psychology and Social Science / Lifespan Resilience Research Group




This is an electronic version of an article published in: Cohen, L., Pooley, J., Ferguson, C. A., & Harms, C. A. (2011). Psychologists' understanding of resilience: implications for the discipline of psychology and psychology practice. The Australian Community Psychologist, 23(2), 7-22. Original article available here


Current adoptions of strength-based approaches, as suggested by the positive psychology movement, asks professionals to develop different perspectives on familiar constructs. Given that we have little understanding how psychologists define and work with psychological phenomena, this current study sought to determine how Western Australian registered psychologists understand resilience. The 213 participants were asked to provide definitions and information about their understanding of resilience via an open-ended questionnaire. Demographic questions included the level and year ofqualification(s) and nature of psychological work undertaken. The definitions obtained from the participants were rated against definitions of resilience in the literature. The participants understandings of resilience were also assessed against the constructs believed to underpin resilience, as presented in the resilience literature. Although theconcept of resilience is widely researched and much information is published in psychological journals, participants in this study did not fully articulate the concept and its relevance to strength-based approaches.

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