By Angela Englander

This article gives a quick overview of resilience as it relates to the therapeutic process.

Resilience is the ability to recover from traumatic experiences and continue on living a healthy life. Resilience and emotion regulation skills are learned through the social environment as opposed to the physical environment (Van Der Kolk, B. 2005). Though many children suffer intense and unstable emotions following trauma (Putnam, F. 2006), there are also a number of children who’re able to live through ongoing interpersonal trauma yet seem relatively unaffected. Children learn a lot of emotion regulation skills from their interactions with their primary caregivers (Van Der Kolk, B. 2005). When the caregiver is demonstrating healthy emotion regulation and emotion expression the child will often show the same intensity and duration of emotions back (Gardner, et al. 2014; Van Der Kolk, B. 2005). This mirroring pattern also enhances the bond between the child and their caregiver allowing healthier future relationship patterns to form. Therapy is another commonly used skill to decrease a child’s suffering and increase their resilience. The child can be taught a variety of skills including emotion recognition and emotion regulation skills to help them decrease their emotional suffering (Gardner, et al. 2014). When there isn’t a trusted parent or family figure available to help the child learn these emotion regulation skills they may be able to learn them through therapy. It takes a special therapist to get through to these children, empathy and understanding are crucial to recovery and resilience training.


Reference: Gardner, S. Hyman, C. & Loya, T. (2014). FamilyLive: Parental skill building for caregivers with interpersonal trauma exposures. Clinical Social Work Journal, 42(1), 81-89

Putnam, F. (2006). The impact of trauma on child development. Juvenile and Family Court Journal, p. 1-11.

Van Der Kolk, B. (2005). Developmental trauma disorder. Psychiatric Annals, 35(5), 401-408. Retrieved from