Individual Resilience

Individuals vary considerably in their personalities: just compare and contrast the personality types of friends and family around you. However, psychologists generally agree that there are number of important and reoccurring factors which collectively come together to form ones personality. Certain aspects of personality may change over time and can be influenced by our environment, our experiences and those around us.

Resilience is considered to incorporate the characteristics of an individual, reflecting an aspect of their personality, but also appears to be a learnt behaviour which can develop over time. Whilst there are various definitions of resilience, a consistent theme in the literature is the idea of rebounding and adapting in the face of change or adversity. Consequently, there is a general consensus that resilience is a dynamic process which involves personal negotiation through time and place [1].

Why is individual resilience important?
Being resilient indicates that an individual has the ability to adapt in the face of tragedy, trauma, adversity, hardship, and ongoing significant life stressors [2]. Resilient individuals tend to manifest adaptive behaviour, making them better equipped to deal with change or difficult circumstances. This may have beneficial effects on the individual in terms of subsequent impact on their social functioning, morale and health [3]. Resilience can therefore be helpful in challenging situations, both in work and non-work contexts.

How does individual and organisational resilience interact?
Whilst individuals may vary in the degree to which they possess resilience at any given time, studies seem to indicate that resilience can be developed or learnt. In particular, training and coaching may help to develop individual resilience. From an organisational perspective, it seems logical that resilient individuals who can manage stress will contribute to creating a resilient culture and the organisation will be better able to adapt to pressures while still delivering good outcomes. However, the connection between individual and organisational capacity to adapt has been relatively neglected both by psychologists interested in individual resilience and by those working in organisations.

Here at CARe, we are passionate about understanding the interplay between individual and organisational resilience in healthcare. We aim to explore how we can further identify and facilitate resilience in order to generate quality improvements in the healthcare system.

[1] Tusaie, K. & Dyer, J. (2004). Resilience: a historical review of the construct. Holistic Nursing Practice, 18 (1), pp. 3-8.

[2] Newman, R. (2005). APA’s resilience initiative. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 36 (2), pp. 227–229.

[3] Wagnild, G., & Young, H. (1993). Development and psychometric evaluation of the resilience scale. Journal of Nursing Measurement, 1 (2), pp. 165–177.