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September 25, 2013

Coping and Resilience

by Angel Pumila

Coping and Resilience

The multiple domains of transitional experiences involved in the adolescent period require a level of coping and resilience to avoid detrimental developmental impacts.  It is “valuable to address the actual processes involved in selection and socialization for depressive symptoms in adolescents and how these processes evolve over time, in relation to transitions and developmental changes, while incorporating information on stability and other potentially related variables” (Goodwin, 2012, p. 329).  One of these variables is the phenomenon of resilience.

The term resilience refers to the processes that produce good outcomes in spite of facing potentially damaging developmental situations or experiences (Masten, 2001, p. 228). While many of our youth today face issues of adversity, not all are subject to lasting negative results.  The key variable that differentiates this population or separates them from their vulnerable counterparts can be found in their ability to define situations in a positive way.

Through her research, Masten (2011) discovers why some are more susceptive to long-term impacts from these experiences than others. The difference can be found in the basic adaptation systems that are within each and every one of us.  “If those systems are protected and in good working order, development is robust even in the face of sever adversity; if these major systems are impaired, antecedent or consequent to adversity, then the risk for developmental problems is much greater, particularly if the environmental hazards are prolonged” (Masten, 2011, p. 227).  For example, if an adolescent experiences a uncontrollable traumatic event brought about by another person such as an armed robbery or even a parental divorce, those with limited or nonexistent previous trauma are efficient at coping and relatively quick to resolve this even.  On the other hand, if these same situations were presented to a teen with a past of abuse, the impact may be long lasting.  The reason behind this is the pattern of experience.  When many negative situations are presented the mind justifies these in a negative manner as a way to cope.  They may internalize the situation, believing that bad things happen because they are bad or unworthy. Yet, the adolescent with a higher level of resilience can define the situation externally as something that has happened to them and not because of them.


Goodwin, N. P., Mrug, S., Borch, C., & Cillessen, A. N. (2012). Peer selection and socialization in adolescent depression: The role of school transitions. Journal Of Youth And Adolescence, 41(3), 320-332. doi:10.1007/s10964-011-9723-x

Masten, A. S. (2001). Ordinary magic: Resilience processes in development. American Psychologist, 56(3), 227-238. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.56.3.227


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