Trauma Resilience Resources

Trauma can occur as a result of violence, abuse, neglect, loss, and other emotionally harmful experiences. Resilience refers to the ability of an individual, family, or community to cope with adversity and trauma, and adapt to challenges or change.

Traumatic and toxic stressors such as physical abuse, exposure to domestic or community violence, and depending on parents with mental and/or substance use disorders, tend to cluster in families. Often when one stressor is present, others are present as well.

Some communities have been exposed to disproportionate levels of trauma and violence. For example, American Indians and Alaska Natives and African Americans have experienced historical trauma that can be transmitted from one generation to the next. Military service members, veterans, and their families have dealt with the losses, fears, and injuries associated with ongoing wars.

While many people who experience trauma go on with their lives without lasting negative effects, others experience impaired neurodevelopmental and immune system responses. There may be subsequent health risk behaviors resulting in chronic physical and behavioral disorders. The more traumatic experiences a child is exposed to, the more likely the child will have difficulty with social and emotional functioning in childhood, exhibit cognitive problems, perform poorly in school, and experience mental and/or substance use disorders as an adult.

Building individual resilience is an ongoing process related to many factors. These factors include:

  • Individual health and well-being
  • Individual aspects
  • Life experiences
  • Social support

Interactions with responsive parents and other caregivers, rich sensory stimulation, and routines that shape a child’s day can build a child’s brain in healthy ways. Responsive communities can provide critical support for vulnerable children and families. Family organizations, belief systems, and communication also contribute to resilience as do strong community bonds, resources, and capacity.

Trauma Measures

Resilience Measures

SAMHSA Publications and Resources

Last Updated: 09/24/2015