RUNNING HEADER: A NEW MODEL OF RESILIENCE 1
RUNNING HEADER: A NEW MODEL OF RESILIENCE
How resilience is strengthened by exposure to stressors: The Systematic Self-Reflection
Model of Resilience Strengthening
* a Crane, M.F., a Searle. B.J., abKangas, M., & a Nwiran, Y.
aDepartment of Psychology, Macquarie University
bCentre for Emotional Health, Macquarie University
Word count: 10402 (including abstract, table, and references)
Department of Psychology,
Building 4FW, 4-First Walk,
North Ryde, NSW, 2109,
P: +61 (2) 9850 8604
RUNNING HEADER: A NEW MODEL OF RESILIENCE 2
Background: Exposure to demands is normally considered to drain resources and
threaten wellbeing. However, studies have indicated a resilience-strengthening role for
Objectives: This paper introduces a unifying model, including five testable hypotheses
regarding how resilience can be strengthened progressively via exposure to life-stressors.
Methods: We review and synthesize relevant scholarship that underpins the Systematic
Self-Reflection model of resilience-strengthening.
Results: The model highlights the importance of a specific meta-cognitive skill (self-
reflection on one’s initial stressor response) as a mechanism for strengthening resilience. The
Systematic Self-Reflection model uniquely proposes five self-reflective practices critical in the
on-going adaptation of three resilient capacities: (1) coping resources, (2) usage of coping and
emotional regulatory repertoire, and (3) resilient beliefs. The self-reflective process is proposed
to strengthen a person’s resilience by developing insight into their already-present capacities,
the limitations of these capacities, and by stimulating the search for person-driven alternative
Conclusion: This model extends the existing scholarship by proposing how the
experience of stressors and adversity may have resilience-strengthening opportunities. The
implication of this model is that engaging with stressors can have positive consequences for
longer-term healthy emotional development if scaffolded in adaptive reflective practices.
Keywords: Adversity; Stress appraisal; Coping strategies; Post-traumatic stress; Self-
RUNNING HEADER: A NEW MODEL OF RESILIENCE 3
How resilience is strengthened by exposure to stressors: The Systematic Self-Reflection
Model of Resilience Strengthening
This paper introduces a new model of how stressors and adversity may facilitate
strengthening resiliency. An increasing body of research is highlighting the ability of exposure
to stressors, and even potentially traumatic events, to increase resilience to future stressors
(Crane & Searle, 2016; Seery, Holman, & Silver, 2010; Seery, Leo, Lupien, Kondrak, &
Almonte, 2013). Recent research has found that between two to four adversities, and even
potentially traumatic events, resulted in greater resilience, compared with no adversity or more
than four events. Notably, the relationship between adversity and resilience reflected an
inverted U-shape, whereby moderate levels of adversity were related to greater resilience
(Seery, et al., 2010). Follow-up research by Seery and colleagues (2013) demonstrated the same
curvilinear relationship between cumulative life adversity and passive endurance of a pain
stressor including pain catastrophizing, whereby moderate lifetime adversity was related to less
negative responses to pain. This scholarship adds to a growing body of research whereby
scholars have considered the potentially adaptive role for stress (e.g., Sarkar & Fletcher, 2014;
Seery, 2011; Seery & Quinton 2016). These studies acknowledge that stressor exposure may
mean that an individual is functioning at a non-optimal level for a period, with some initial cost
in the form of reduced resources, and yet, there is also the downstream potential for stressors
to have a resilience-strengthening effect (see Seery, 2011; Seery & Quinton 2016 for
comprehensive reviews of this research; Oken, Charmine, & Wakeland, 2015). The implication
of this research is that engaging with stressors may have positive consequences for longer-term
healthy emotional development (e.g., Dienstbier, 1989; Hayes, Wilson, Gifford, Follette, &
Strosahl, 1996) and to a possible resilience-strengthening capacity for stressors whereby
stressor events allow changes in personal capacities that enhance resilience in the future (Oken,
et al., 2015).
RUNNING HEADER: A NEW MODEL OF RESILIENCE 4
This perspective contrasts research emphasizing the sensitizing role of stressors and
adversity, particularly chronic stress (e.g., McEwen & Lasley, 2003). A majority of research to
date has focused on the sensitizing and resource-depleting outcome of stressors. More research
is needed exploring the beneficial role of stressors. To achieve this, a framework and testable
hypotheses are required to guide future research into the mechanisms that allow resilience to
emerge from stressor exposure. The objective of this paper is to present an integrated model of
how resilient capacities are acquired through the experience of stressors and adversity. We
outline a model proposing how resilience is strengthened via a process of reflection on past
stressors and one’s coping and emotion regulatory approaches enabling the development of
personal insight, perspective, and the potential for growth. The current paper describes the
Systematic Self-Reflection model of resilience strengthening, the role coping self-reflection
plays in this framework, and outlines a series of testable hypotheses as a guide for future
research. Moreover, we describe the implications of this model in terms of developing human
Stressor experience can trigger adaptive self-reflection
In the Systematic Self-Reflection model of resilience strengthening (Figure 1), we
suggest that individuals who develop, or eventually develop, the capacity for resilience from
exposure to stressors do something unique. For these people, the experience of initial
psychological stress or a less than optimal stressor response can become a trigger for an
important metacognitive process that allows the opportunity for resilience-strengthening:
systematic self-reflection. Self-reflection is best described as a metacognitive approach to
learning involving the development of self-awareness and evaluation of one’s thoughts,
feelings and behaviors that allows one to develop self-insight (Grant, Franklin, & Langford,
2002; Hattie, Biggs, & Purdie, 1996). Self-reflection facilitates the capacity to evaluate task-
orientated coping and problem-solving strategies and is proposed to enable the adaptation of
RUNNING HEADER: A NEW MODEL OF RESILIENCE 5
such approaches. In relation to the strengthening of resilience, daily stressors and life adversity
are proposed to have the potential to trigger a conscious process of self-reflection.
Self-reflection on stressor experiences, one’s initial response to stressors, and the
effectiveness of coping and emotion regulatory strategies are part of an on-going process of
maturation that can be encouraged via the presence of life stressors that signify a need for
adaptation. A similar proposal was highlighted in a recent review of the post-traumatic growth
literature (Eve & Kangas, 2015). These authors discuss current theory and research placing
effortful cognitive processing of potentially traumatic events at the center of post-traumatic
growth (Janoff-Bulman, 1992; Tedeschi & Calhoun, 2004) and recovery processes (Greenberg,
1995). Eve and Kangas (2015) suggested that the cognitive processes involved in normal
lifespan developmental maturation are comparable to those that are important to trauma
recovery and/or post-traumatic growth. Moreover, these authors underlined the potential for
accelerated cognitive maturation to arise from non-traumatic life stressors such as motherhood
as well as traumatic events. The Systematic Self-Reflection model describes how
metacognitive processes involved in skill development, and maturation, are a key mechanism
in strengthening resilience from a diversity of stressor events - from everyday life stressors to
potentially traumatic events.
Defining terms in the Systematic Self-Reflection model
Resilient outcomes and the capacity for resilience
As part of the Systematic Self-Reflection model of strengthening resilience, we
distinguish between the capacity for resilience and resilient outcomes. When researchers
measure resilience as the presence or absence of symptoms after a traumatic or stressful event,
then resilience is being measured as an outcome (e.g., de Roon-Cassini, Mancini, Rusch, &
Bonanno, 2010). In such cases, resilience has been demonstrated (via the absence of clinical
symptoms or presence of positive functioning), despite factors that place the individual at
RUNNING HEADER: A NEW MODEL OF RESILIENCE 6
increased risk of psychological dysfunction. Consistent with this perspective, resilience as an
emergent outcome has been defined as: “the maintenance or quick recovery of mental health
during and after exposure to significant stressors” (p. 786; Kalisch, et al., 2017). In contrast,
the capacity for resilience is characterized by the psychosocial assets and protective factors
(e.g., extraversion; Campbell-Sills, Cohan, & Stein, 2006) that increase the potential for
resilience in the future.
The capacity for resilience captures what has been described as the first wave of
resiliency inquiry regarding the “phenomenological descriptors of resilient qualities of
individuals and support systems” (Richardson, 2002; p. 308). Broadly, these qualities include
coping strategies (i.e., cognitive and behavioral efforts to manage demands; Lazarus &
Folkman, 1984), conscious and unconscious, effortful and effortless processes that support
resilience. A number of models describe the diversity of individual and social factors that
comprise one’s capacity for resilience and moderate or mediate the relationship between
stressor events and psychological outcomes (Figure 1, path a). For example, Lent’s (2004)
Model of Restorative Well-being describes the complex interplay between personality and
affective dispositions, coping resources, and cognitive and behavioral responses that are likely
to determine this initial stressor response. Moreover, the Transactional Model of Stress and
Coping (Lazarus & Folkman, 1987) highlights the importance of the primary and secondary
event appraisal processes in influencing the initial stress response. Thus, the capacity for
resilience is the possession of resilience-supportive resources, characteristics, and the
utilization of resilience-supporting coping and emotion regulatory strategies (e.g., Carver,
1998) including emotion regulatory capacities (Gross, 2015) that modify the relationship
between stressors and the initial psychological outcomes. Most research examining resilience
focuses on the measurement of such resilient capacities that predict resilience (e.g., Major,
Richards, Cooper, Cozzarelli, & Zubek, 1998).
RUNNING HEADER: A NEW MODEL OF RESILIENCE 7
Describing all the capacities that enable resilience or other initial psychological
outcomes is not the purpose of this model. Rather we move beyond this initial reaction (denoted
path a, Figure 1) to describe the subsequent process that allows resilience to be strengthened in
response to life stressors. In the Systematic Self-Reflection model, the capacity for resilience
includes three broad elements: (1) coping resources, (2) usage of coping and emotional
regulatory repertoire, and (3) resilient beliefs (captured by the dashed box in Figure 1) that
work to contribute to increasing the likelihood of resilient outcomes. Although the capacity for
resilience may encompass a plethora of resilient qualities, as outlined above, the Systematic
Self-Reflection model specifically addresses only those capacities that may be modified by the
Stressors and their psychological outcomes
Resilient trajectories have been identified across a range of stressors and potentially
traumatic events (e.g., Bonanno, Galea, Bucciarelli, & Vlahov, 2007; Crane & Searle, 2016;
Masten, Best, & Garmezy, 1990). The objective magnitude of events lie on a continuum from
everyday stressors, adverse life-events that do not constitute trauma (e.g., acute illness,
relationship breakdown), to potentially traumatic events (operationalized in Criterion A of the
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental
Disorders; American Psychiatric Association, 2013). These events place the individual at
greater risk in the sense that they are a “statistical correlate of poor or negative outcomes”
(Masten, et al., 1990, p. 426). The Systematic Self-Reflection model is potentially applicable
to everyday stressors and potentially traumatic events.
In understanding the Systematic Self-Reflection model of strengthening resilience, it is
also necessary to acknowledge the distinction between psychological stress and distress. Stress
refers to the moderate perturbation resulting in a short-term state change away from optimal
functioning (Oken, et al., 2015). Distress, on the other hand, reflects a longer-term state-change
RUNNING HEADER: A NEW MODEL OF RESILIENCE 8
causing significant health, social and occupational problems reflecting clinical levels of
dysfunction. Although there are some stressor features that seem more likely to elicit distress
(e.g., potentially traumatic events), the initial psychological response is highly subjective and
dependent on a variety of individual factors (Oken, et al., 2015) that comprise one’s capacity
for resilience at the time of the stressor occurrence.
In the Systematic Self-Reflection model of strengthening resilience, stressors and
adversity can have a range of psychological outcomes (Figure 1, path a). These outcomes are
typically conceptualized as a continuum from the absence of stress to the presence of severe
distress. However, to better clarify our predictions we have simplified this continuum into three
sections as illustrated in Figure 1 as (1) distress, (2) moderate stress, and (3) mild to no stress.
Models of resilience (e.g., Richardson, 2002; Richardson, Neiger, Jensen, & Kumpfer, 1990)
and wellbeing (e.g., Lent, 2004) often address when a resilient outcome is more likely by
summarizing the actions of several mechanisms and factors (e.g., personality, coping). The
interaction between stressors and these mechanisms is not represented in Figure 1. Figure 1
illustrates the role of self-reflection in strengthening resilience, rather than trying to represent
a model of existing resilience. However, these factors are considered to be operating in parallel
to, and determining, the initial psychological response.
Accounting for evidence that stressors and adversity create greater sensitivity to future
Given that the Systematic Self-Reflection model proposes a resilience-strengthening
role for stressors, we need to reconcile this proposal with the evidence that stressor exposure
may sensitize individuals to future lower level stressors (e.g., Stroud, Davila, Hammen, &
Vrshek-Schallhorn, 2011). Stress sensitization refers to an increased tendency to developing
psychological distress as lesser stressors become capable of triggering a variety of
psychological disorders (Hammen, 2015; Stroud et. al., 2011). In the Systematic Self-
RUNNING HEADER: A NEW MODEL OF RESILIENCE 9
Reflection model, self-reflection is more likely during moderate levels of stress, but less likely
during the experience of distress. In this way, adaptive self-reflection is more likely to occur in
response to everyday stressor events, compared to potentially traumatic events resulting in the
emergence of distress. The occurrence of distress is one potential pathway to stress
sensitization perhaps involving changes in the function and structure of certain brain autonomy
or stress sensitivity (Monroe & Harkness, 2005). Moreover, not all individuals engage in these
reflective practices and several characteristics may limit a person’s capacity to engage in an
honest reflection on their coping and emotion regulatory practices (e.g., avoidance, other-
blame, suppression). Thus, exposure to stressors does not necessarily lead to the development
of increasingly adaptive beliefs, coping resources, and usage of the coping and emotion
regulatory repertoire. In contrast, stressor exposure may lead to the practice of a limited number
of both voluntary coping responses (e.g., avoidance, distraction) and the reinforcement of
involuntary reactions (e.g., rumination, emotional numbing) (Connor-Smith, Compas,
Wadsworth, Thomsen, & Saltzman, 2000). Similarly, beliefs that undermine resilience (e.g.,
self-doubt) may also be reinforced. With subsequent and perhaps less severe events, these
practiced and reinforced responses may be triggered more easily, becoming part of one’s
stressor response leading to distress. A notable gap in this field is that the empirical work
demonstrating stressor sensitization rarely investigates the positive role of stressors in parallel
to their sensitizing role (e.g., Stroud, et al., 2010).
Core propositions of the Systematic Self-Reflection model
First, the Systematic Self-Reflection model proposes that the strengthening of resilience
is a process of experiential learning and more specifically learning through reflection on doing.
Stressors may provide opportunities for learning about one’s personal response to stress and
resilience and this is their broad contribution to growth. Mechanisms have been proposed
asserting how resilience may be enhanced via stressor exposure, including the adaptation of
RUNNING HEADER: A NEW MODEL OF RESILIENCE 10
coping strategies, the re-definition of one’s stressor experiences as opportunities for
development, the enhancement of core psychological resources such as self-efficacy, and
activating the recruitment of more resources previously lacking (Crane & Searle, 2016;
Hobfoll, 1989; Jamieson, Crum, Goyer, Marotta, & Akinola, 2018; Seery, et al., 2010; 2013).
The role of stressors in triggering a process of learning and skill development is a common
theme among these suggestions, but also in the historical stress inoculation literature
(Meichenbaum & Deffenbacher 1988). The content of this learning may involve reflecting
upon important questions such as: Who is a good person to speak to when I need emotional
support, and who is not? How long will these feelings last? What am I capable of? Consistent
with the Conservation of Resources (COR) model (Hobfoll, 1989; 2002), learning may also
involve eliciting adaptive actions such as acquiring access to important resources that are
necessary for coping (e.g., instrumental support from colleagues, accessing necessary
information). Like any other skill, resilience requires exposure to opportunities to apply learned
strategies (e.g., problem-solving strategies) and receive feedback from both internal (e.g.,
stress) and external (e.g., goal achievement) sources to allow the refinement of resilient
capacities. Perspectives on adult transformational learning have proposed that critical self-
reflection processes may be triggered by ‘disorientating’ events in one’s life prompting a
revision of assumptions, current ways of interpreting the world, and one’s approaches through
critical self-reflection (Mezirow, 1998). We propose that stressors can be a trigger for learning,
and effective learning promotes successful future adaptation.
Second, for individuals not experiencing psychopathology, the self-reflective process
strengthens the person’s resilience by developing their insight into already-present capacities
for resilience (Padesky & Mooney, 2012), the limitations of these capacities, and by stimulating
the search for person-driven alternative approaches to stressors. The self-awareness, evaluation
and self-driven adjustments emerging from the reflective process, contribute to the on-going
RUNNING HEADER: A NEW MODEL OF RESILIENCE 11
development of resilient capacities in response to stressors, increasing the likelihood of resilient
outcomes in the future. Similar insights are reflected in Bonanno and Burton’s (2013) analysis
of regulatory flexibility. These authors acknowledge that the efficacy of coping and emotion
regulation strategies change depending on the contextual demands (see Folkman & Moskowitz,
2004 for review). Although Bonanno and Burton’s (2013) analysis does not specifically
address strengthening resilience or self-reflection, these authors do acknowledge the
importance of self-examination of the coping process in flexibility and adjustment.
A final proposition is that the resilience-strengthening process is one that unfolds over
time. The systematic self-reflection model is a developmental process model of resilience-
strengthening and therefore includes a time element (see Figure 1). The exact period of time
remains undefined because it varies from person to person and the level of stress or distress
elicited by the stressor, adversity, or potentially traumatic event encountered. Richardson’s
(2002) metatheory of resilience and resiliency makes a similar claim about the timeline for
resilient reintegration suggesting that resilient reintegration could occur in a matter of seconds,
years, or even be postponed, depending on the severity of the stressor event. Importantly, the
initial (present moment) psychological response, as illustrated in Figure 1, is not necessarily a
resilient or optimal response to the stressor situation. This initial response may be maladaptive,
resulting in undesirable levels of stress or distress. However, engaging in systematic self-
reflection may enable the recognition (via enhanced self-awareness), that one’s coping and
emotion regulatory response is inadequate, and hence, may activate the search for alternative
approaches or better resources, thus increasing the potential for a resilient outcome in the
RUNNING HEADER: A NEW MODEL OF RESILIENCE 12
A mechanism for strengthening the capacity for resilience: Systematic self-reflection
This section details the five self-reflective practices proposed to constitute resilience-
strengthening self-reflection. The five self-reflective practices illustrated in Figure 2 and
described in this section are private conscious strategies that occur in individuals likely to
experience a strengthening of their resilience in response to stressor exposure. As implied by
the definition of self-reflection, the first practice is self-awareness of one’s emotion generative
and regulatory processes in response to psychological relevant triggering events. Consistent
with Gross’ (2015) process model of emotional regulation, emotional awareness means being
consciously aware of one’s affective, physical, and behavioral response to a triggering event
and the detection of nuanced changes in these responses (Gross, 2015). Physical responses are
the noticeable physiological changes that may occur in response to a triggering event (e.g.,
increased heart rate, muscular tension or conversely feeling relaxed), and finally there may be
discrete behaviors that emerge in response to this cluster of changes. Self-awareness may also
involve the acknowledgment of one’s initial cognitive appraisal of events. There are many
possible appraisals identified in previous work (e.g., controllable, challenge, threat) that relate
to behavioral and physiological responses that characterize emotion (e.g., Lazarus & Folkman,
RUNNING HEADER: A NEW MODEL OF RESILIENCE 13
1987; see Moors, Ellsworth, Scherer, & Frijda, 2013, for review). Self-awareness is the
acknowledgment that these initial cognitive and emotional responses have taken place and that
they may change. This is compatible with the self-as-context dimension, which is a core
component of the Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) paradigm (Hayes, 2004).
Specifically, self-as-context in ACT represents pure awareness of the observing self whereby
the individual is able to observe these reactions in themselves as though they themselves are
the subject of inquiry (Harris, 2009).
The second reflective practice is trigger identification. This is the ability of the person
to identify specific situational triggers for their initial responses. This may be in relation to a
stressor event or other events that create even small shifts in these outputs. Related to the
concept of discriminative facility, individuals high in discriminative facility are better able to
link an emotional outcome to the triggering situation (Cheng, Chiu, Hong, & Cheng, 2001).
The ability to identify triggers is important because it allows initial reactions to be anchored to
a specific source, rather than the context more generically (e.g., ‘negative feedback’ vs ‘my
supervisor’). The identification of a specific trigger allows a greater capacity for the individual
to apply more adaptive coping (Bandura, 1986), and recognise opportunities for the
development of their capacity to address that problem (e.g., a walk improves my mood). The
combination of self-awareness and trigger identification helps the individual develop a nuanced
mental model of the relationships between specific events and their different emotional and
The combination of self-awareness and trigger identification is proposed to increase the
salience of how an individual might ideally like to manage a demand (e.g., negative feedback,
failure) and how their initial coping and emotion regulatory strategies may be inconsistent with
personal and professional values and valued goals. Values are ideals of how we would like to
behave across contexts, whereas goals are the specific achievements or behaviors that reflect
RUNNING HEADER: A NEW MODEL OF RESILIENCE 14
these values. According to the Systematic Self-Reflection model, values and goals provide
important context for coping and emotion regulation. First, addressing stressors in particular
ways are considered important to certain person-centered values and goals. Second, values
represent a standard by which to evaluate one’s stressor response and a means for attaining
feedback. Feedback regarding the usefulness of coping or emotion regulatory strategies is
achieved via an introspective process is comparable to monitoring goal progress and/or value
adherence whereby an individual acknowledges the characteristics of a response (e.g., study
procrastination) and compares it to the desired goal (e.g., doing well on an exam) or an
important value (e.g., persistence) (Harkin et. al., 2016).
Anseel and his colleagues (2009) demonstrated that the greatest performance gains
occurred when reflection was combined with feedback about performance, compared only with
reflection or feedback alone (Anseel, Lievens, & Schollaert, 2009). In this study, participants
were either given feedback on their task performance or else given no feedback. Participants
were then asked to reflect on what they did correctly and incorrectly in the task. In this way,
feedback and reflection were both important to performance improvement. The value of
feedback is, arguably, that it provides information about desired behaviors. Anseel et al., (2009)
suggested that one limitation of this study, which may account for the importance of external
feedback, is that there may have been too little information about the desired behavior. When
it comes to daily coping, there is rarely the opportunity for timely external feedback. However,
salient personal values and goals provide information about desired behaviors not present in
the experimental context. Thus, feedback is achieved via an introspective process whereby the
person compares their actual response to an ideal consistent with values and value-based goals.
The third practice is reappraisal. The self-reflection process encourages a re-
consideration of one’s initial event appraisals, allowing for the potential reappraisal of the
events in a way that is more adaptive. Learning to modify one’s appraisal of events in a way
RUNNING HEADER: A NEW MODEL OF RESILIENCE 15
that changes the nature of emotional outputs is a core part of existing psychological
interventions (Beck, 1983; Gross & Muñoz, 1995). In the Systematic Self-Reflection model,
the reappraisal process specifically involves the individual considering what can be learned
from the stressor. For example, practical skills may be developed for addressing the stressor
(e.g., managing a problematic colleague a work) or a psychological skill (e.g., acceptance of
uncertainty) (Jamieson et al., 2018). Salient values and goals in relation to the stressor situation
are proposed to provide a context for reappraisal as individuals consider the role of stressors in
advancing their coping skill set (e.g., dealing better with negative feedback). Initially, the
individual may have been more sensitive to the threats or demands present in the situation,
elevating the salience of threat appraisal (Lazarus & Folkman, 1987). However, via the
experience of one’s initial psychological response to an event and the salience of particular
values or goals the individual may begin to acknowledge that he/she may lack or not be
applying the necessary capacities to cope more effectively with this stressor. Therefore a
critical aspect of coping self-reflection involves the reappraisal of the experience of stress as
an opportunity to develop one’s capabilities for adapting to stressors.
The translation of stressors into opportunities for the development of resilience is likely
to be facilitated by a growth mindset (Dweck, 1986), which is an implicit assumption that
certain personal attributes, like resilience, are malleable and can be developed (Yeager &
Dweck, 2012). A growth mindset paves the way for one to consider the potential to develop
their resilience. A recent discussion of growth mindsets proposes that the belief certain abilities
(e.g., intellectual ability) can be developed is a coping resource that promotes resilience
(Yeager & Dweck, 2012). In the Systematic Self-Reflection model, a growth mindset can be
characterized as a resilient belief contributing to the capacity for resilience. However, we also
propose it has a second role as part of the reflective process, by encouraging individuals to
consider the potential for the development of resilient capacities following the initial reactions
RUNNING HEADER: A NEW MODEL OF RESILIENCE 16
to stressors. In this way, a growth mindset about the nature of resilience (i.e., that resilience
can be developed over time) encourages the perspective that stressors can be approached as
developmental opportunities (Jamieson et al., 2018). This tendency to consider the role of stress
in capacity building is referred to as a stress-as-enhancing mindset (Jamieson et al., 2018).
The above three practices can be collectively considered situation-focused and involve
cognitively dissecting one’s initial reaction to the situation. We propose that these processes
may enhance context sensitivity. Context sensitivity is an individual’s capacity to identify
demands and opportunities in the situation (see Bonnano & Burton, 2013 for review). For
example, identification of a specific emotional trigger may enhance perceptions of control over
the situation or one’s behavioral response. Moreover, the combination of these processes
allows for the recognition of potential self-development opportunities.
Practices four and five more directly influence the future development of the capacity
for resilience. Thus, we refer to these two practices as development-focused. The fourth
practice, evaluation, involves a dispassionate exploration of various aspects of one’s response
to stress that were effective, or ineffective, in enabling the achievement of personally held
values and value-based goals. Similarly, Carver and Scheier (1990) have proposed that a
process of comparison between current inputs (e.g., behaviors) and the desired goal-state is
engaged by increases in self-focused attention. In the Systematic Self-Reflection model, certain
voluntary and involuntary inputs (i.e., coping and emotion regulatory strategies) occur in
response to the stressor event. These initial inputs are then evaluated in terms of the ability to
achieve a personally held value or goal in the context of that stressor. Finally, the future-focus
prompts the individual to either identify what could be done differently in the future, engage
in a search for solutions or resources to ensure greater alignment between values and actions,
or attempt a different approach presently and/or in the future and reflect on the outcome. For
example, an individual may use humor to cope predominately with stressor events. However,
RUNNING HEADER: A NEW MODEL OF RESILIENCE 17
in some situations (e.g., the death of a friend), humor may be judged as an inappropriate coping
response that would violate their value of compassion. The reflection on this limitation may
initiate questions regarding what alternative strategies could be applied in this situation. The
individual may try something they have observed in others (e.g., distraction) or seek advice
about what to do. Such modifications may involve all aspects of Gross’ (2015) emotional
regulation framework (e.g., situation selection and modification, the re-direction of one’s
attention, cognitive change, and response modulation). Importantly, the development of one’s
resilient capacities is an iterative process. New emergent strategies may not get an individual
sufficiently close to their value or goal, but these strategies are again reviewed and modified
each time, with the potential of increasing the capacity for resilience.
Collectively, the self-reflective practices described represent a shifting from the
acknowledgment, analysis, and acceptance of the event to a development-focus with the goal
of learning and growth beyond the event. This idea is consistent with work by Bonanno, Pat-
Horenczyk, and Noll (2011) demonstrating the importance of shifting between processing the
potentially traumatic event (trauma-focus) and a focus on moving beyond the trauma (forward-
focus) in the prediction of better adjustment. The five reflective practices outlined are ideal;
however, individuals are likely to vary in the number of these practices engaged, the depth of
insight achieved, and the time duration of reflection.
RUNNING HEADER: A NEW MODEL OF RESILIENCE 18
Having noted the potential for coping self-reflection to be a resilience-strengthening
process, some previous research has shown an association between self-reflection and greater
stress and anxiety symptoms (Grant, et al., 2002). In contrast, Treynor, Gonzales, and Nolan-
Hoeksema (2003) have demonstrated the potential benefits of self-reflection, which predicted
a decline in depression longitudinally. Thus, there is inconsistency regarding the relationship
between self-reflection and symptoms. There are several plausible reasons for these mixed
findings. First, these studies only measured awareness of one’s thoughts and feelings.
Individuals who are aware of their feelings and thoughts may vary in their engagement in a
critical examination of their stress response (future-focus). Such individuals may not
experience the benefit of constructive self-reflection. Moreover, measuring the extent to which
one pays attention to one’s thoughts and feelings may serve only to capture the salience of
distressing experiences or to highlight them via reporting. A further consideration is study
design. Grant et al., (2002) utilized a cross-sectional design and Treynor et al. (2003) examined
self-reflection longitudinally. Given that this is a process, the benefits of self-reflection may
not emerge in the early stages of reflection, but rather only be evident later.
RUNNING HEADER: A NEW MODEL OF RESILIENCE 19
When stressor events encourage coping and emotion regulatory self-reflection
The Systematic Self-Reflection model of strengthening resilience proposes that the
initial psychological response (Figure 1) is a key determinant of whether an individual will
engage in systematic self-reflection. In the Systematic Self-Reflection model, psychological
stress (a movement away from an optimal psychological state) is the trigger for the above
described cascade of self-reflective practices (Figure 1, path b). The absence of unpleasant
emotions is less likely to spontaneously trigger an analysis of one’s response, although a
resilient outcome may reinforce a positive response via associative processes. If there is no
psychological stress experienced, then no self-reflection is triggered because the individual is
able to meet the demands of the event and therefore does not raise questions about how
responses could be improved. This perspective is consistent with the affect-as-information
theory (Clore & Huntsinger, 2008; Wyer, Clore, & Isbell, 1999) whereby negative affect
signals deviance from a safe state stimulating more systematic processing of information and
greater attention to the situation. In contrast, positive affect signals no special requirement to
modify the way in which the task is usually performed. Akin to models of self-regulation of
behaviour, the experience of negative affect (e.g., stress) is a signal to the system that
something needs to be adjusted to resolve a discrepancy; in contrast, positive affect prompts a
reduction in goal-directed effort (Carver & Scheier, 1998). In this case, the discrepancy is
between the demands imposed by a stressor event and the current capacity for resilience. Kaye-
Tzadok and Davidson-Arad (2016) recently demonstrated that growth is greatest at moderate
levels of resilience, suggesting that individuals with a high capacity for resilience may not
triggered into resilience-strengthening processes. Moreover, those with low capacity may often
feel overwhelmed by stressor demands allowing distress to occur, again limiting self-reflection.
In later case, reflection may be engaged when the distress has sufficiently subsided or if
triggered by an external influence (e.g., therapy or coaching). The time course is dependent on
RUNNING HEADER: A NEW MODEL OF RESILIENCE 20
how long it takes for distress to be reduced sufficiently to allow self-reflection. Thus, there is
an optimal level of perceived stress that promotes self-reflection (i.e. an inverted U-shape
relationship illustrated by path b). The following formal hypothesis is proposed:
H1: Coping and emotional regulatory self-reflection has an inverse-U shaped
relationship with initial psychological outputs when placed on a continuum from no
stress to distress (Figure 1, path b). The absence of stress or too much stress (distress)
results in a reduced likelihood of initial self-reflection. Moderate levels of initial
psychological stress predict the greatest likelihood of engaging in adaptive self-
How systematic self-reflection enhances the capacity for resilience
Self-reflection is suggested to mediate the relationship between initial psychological
stress and what is broadly referred to as the capacity for resilience (Figure 1, paths b and c) by
enhancing usage of the coping and emotion regulatory repertoire, coping resources, and
resilient beliefs. Only the constituents of the capacity for resilience proposed to be directly
influenced by self-reflection are included. Coping resources are the available practical,
cognitive, motivational, and social resources that can help people to cope with stressors.
Coping resources may be limited or expanded by the availability of practical (e.g., fiscal, time),
cognitive (e.g., intellectual functioning), motivational (e.g., autonomous motivation in relation
to the task) and social resources (e.g., social support). An individual’s coping resources directly
and positively influence the usage of the coping and emotion regulatory repertoire available to
meet demands (Figure 1, path d). Moreover, such coping resources (e.g., less income decline,
social support, socio-economic status, intellectual functioning) have demonstrated direct
relationships to wellbeing outcomes and in this way contribute to the capacity for resilience
(e.g., Bonanno, et al., 2007; Ensel & Lin, 1991; Masten, et al., 1990).
RUNNING HEADER: A NEW MODEL OF RESILIENCE 21
Usage of the coping and emotion regulatory repertoire reflects the number and
variability of strategies individuals possess and the ability to apply different strategies over
time (Bonanno & Burton, 2013; Ntoumanis, Edmunds, & Duda, 2009). Accumulating research
is demonstrating the importance of a diversity of coping and emotion regulatory approaches
and the flexible deployment of these strategies to resilient outcomes (e.g., Bonanno & Burton,
2013; Cheng, Chui, Hong, & Cheung, 2001). This capacity reflects the ability to flexibly use a
range of adaptive coping and emotion regulatory strategies to meet contextual demands.
Having noted this, meta-analyses of the coping and emotion regulatory literature also indicate
that certain ways of coping with stressors are typically maladaptive (e.g., rumination,
avoidance, suppression) resulting in more internalizing symptoms (Compas, et al, 2017). Thus,
there may be some strategies that are generally maladaptive and not necessarily useful as part
of a diverse coping repertoire.
Resilient beliefs have a demonstrated ability to increase the likelihood of resilient
outcomes, such as self-efficacy, hope, a growth mindset, and optimism. Broadly speaking,
these are clusters of beliefs about how successful one will be when interacting with the world,
one’s capacity to change themselves in positive ways, and one’s confidence to do so (e.g.,
Bandura, 1982; Scheier & Carver, 1985). Existing models describe the importance of such
beliefs in moderating the stressor-distress relationship (e.g., Job-Demands and Resources
Model; Xanthopoulou, Bakker, Demerouti, & Schaufeli, 2007; Model of Psychological
Capital; Luthans, Luthans, & Luthans, 2004). However, these beliefs are not universally
adaptive across all outcomes (e.g., performance; Hmieleski & Baron, 2009), and are therefore
referred to specifically as ‘resilient beliefs’. Importantly, beliefs can be modified over time.
The development of these resilient beliefs is often described as a learning process that evolves
as part of one’s interaction with the world and people within it (e.g., Bandura, 1982; Lee,
RUNNING HEADER: A NEW MODEL OF RESILIENCE 22
Cohen, Edgar, Andrea, & Gagnon, 2006; Snyder, et al., 1996, see Snyder, Ilardi, Michael, &
Cheavans, 2000 for review).
Systematic self-reflection enables the individual to refine his or her mental models of
the coping and emotional regulatory experience, initiate a search for different approaches or
necessary coping resources, and the emergence of a more sophisticated and flexible coping and
emotion regulatory repertoire. Individuals who engage in systematic self-reflection as part of
their coping experience, either during or after the subsidence of a stressor, can identify and
remedy significant gaps in their resources or personal strategies that may undermine resilient
outcomes. If an individual’s current coping strategy is not sufficient to meet demands, self-
reflection is proposed to prompt the use of an alternative strategy. Alternatively, if coping
resources are too limited to meet demands, self-reflection may initiate activities to gather more
resources, increasing the number and diversity of one’s coping resources (e.g., the
identification of limited social support may lead to behaviors aimed at increasing supportive
networks). Further, resilient beliefs may emerge from successful coping attempts as an
individual acknowledges coping success that is integrated as a sense of agency, efficacy, and
control over stressor situations (e.g., ‘I have coped with it before, so I can do it again’).
However, even in the face of initial setbacks, the future-focus aspect of the self-reflective
process is likely to renew one’s sense of efficacy for addressing future stressors. This provides
a pathway for goal accomplishment, a sense of agency over the outcome (hope), and optimism
about positive outcomes in the future. In this way, self-reflection enables the on-going
development of one’s resources, repertoire and resilient beliefs.
Previous work has highlighted the use of systematic reflection for the broadening of
behavioral options and improving performance outcomes in the workplace (Ellis & Davidi,
2005; Ellis, Carette, Anseel, & Lievens, 2014). Ellis and colleagues (2005; 2014) describe how
learning does not automatically emerge from success or failure; rather it is one’s willingness
RUNNING HEADER: A NEW MODEL OF RESILIENCE 23
to engage in an elaborative process of evaluation and behavior change. After-Action Reviews
facilitate this elaborative process of self-explanation whereby individuals are required to
examine their performance and provide explanations for their success or failure on a task (Chi,
de Leeuw, Chiu, & Lavancher; Ellis & Davidi, 2005). In an evaluation of After-Action
Reviews, Israeli soldiers were identified to have a greater performance improvement when
reviews focused on both successes and failures, rather than only failures. Such performance
improvements emerge because examination of failures and successes enables amendments to
behavior, the emergence of new strategies, and reinforcement of effective strategies (Ellis &
Davidi, 2005) broadening the behavioral repertoire relating to performance.
Applied to the experience of addressing stressors, by analyzing successful and
unsuccessful coping and emotional regulatory experiences in context, individuals can develop
an awareness of their success and the effectiveness of their strategies, but at the same time
acknowledge the need for change in the future. Importantly, self-reflection occurs following
the initial stressor response initiated by stressor demands. However, coping resources and
repertoire may be modified or extended to meet the future demands based on the reflective
process in parallel to the initial response or retrospectively.
The above rationale and available empirical evidence have led us to propose that:
H2: Systematic self-reflection mediates the relationship between the initial
psychological stress response and the three described resilient capacities: Usage of the coping
and emotion regulatory repertoire, coping resources, and resilient beliefs (Figure 1, paths b and
H3: Engagement in all five self-reflection practices (Figure 2) increases the three
resilient capacities specified in the model.
The relationship between usage of the coping and emotion regulatory repertoire and
RUNNING HEADER: A NEW MODEL OF RESILIENCE 24
Arguably, individuals with a broader repertoire of coping and emotion regulatory
strategies are more likely to feel as though they have agency, anticipate good outcomes, and
perceive pathways to achieving good outcomes. Previous research has demonstrated that
resilient beliefs may emerge from coping strategy usage (path e). Dijkstra and Homan (2016)
demonstrated that the relationship between coping strategy usage and wellbeing outcomes
occurs indirectly via beliefs (e.g., beliefs about control). Although this research was limited by
the cross-sectional design, the authors did demonstrate that this indirect pathway was stronger
than the alternative where beliefs anticipate wellbeing via the application of coping. Having
noted this, other research suggests that resilient beliefs relate to specific coping strategy use
(e.g., Dijkstra & Homan; 2016; Ensel & Lin, 1991; Major, et al., 1998). Therefore, this
potentially important relationship is also acknowledged in the present model (Figure 1, path f).
H4: There is a direct causal relationship between usage of the coping and emotion
regulatory repertoire and resilient beliefs (Figure 1, path e). A feedback loop also exists
between resilient beliefs and the coping and emotion regulatory repertoire (Figure 1,
path f) whereby resilient beliefs may also enhance the usage of the coping and emotion
A word on the capacity for resilience to lead to downstream resilience
The capacities for resilience included in the Systematic Self-Reflection model are three
of several important factors that interact with future stressors to influence the resulting
psychological outcomes and potential for resilience. Moreover, as the capacity for resilience
enables the experience of less distress emerging from future stressors, systematic self-reflection
may continue to contribute to the development of one’s capacity for resilience. This feedback
loop means that resilient capacities are reviewed and refined each time this process of reflection
occurs making resilient outcomes more likely, particularly for stressors one has encountered in
the past. Conversely, an individual may demonstrate resilience to one stressor, but then in the
RUNNING HEADER: A NEW MODEL OF RESILIENCE 25
context of another stressor may experience moderate stress and the reflective process may again
take place. In this way, the capacity for resilience is malleable and can be shaped, but there is
also an observable level of stability over time.
H5: Usage of the coping and emotion regulatory repertoire, coping resources, and
resilient beliefs, in part, comprise the capacity for resilience and increase the likelihood
of resilient outcomes.
Other models of resilience that implicate a role for stressors and life-adversity
A few models have considered the role of stressors and life-adversity in the
development of resilience. However, a limitation of these models is their failure to articulate
the processes that take place to turn the experience of life stressors into the capacity for
resilience. There is an absence of models with specific hypotheses that would enable a thorough
test of these mechanisms. Table 1 clarifies points of similarity and difference between the
proposed Systematic Self-Reflection model and past models suggesting a role for stressors in
the emergence of resilience. In summary, there are two central ways that this model contributes
to the current scholarship on stress and resilience. First, there are no current models that
articulate how stressor experiences are translated into the emergence of resilience or
acknowledge the importance of self-reflection in this process. Identifying this mechanism is
important for both training applications, but also to understand when stressors will have a
resilience strengthening capacity and when they will not. Second, the Systematic Self-
Reflection model reflects a shift from looking at stressors as ‘risks’ where stressors need to be
managed or avoided to examining the development of capacities that may be derived from
stressor exposure. This is in line with ‘stress mind-set’ research that suggests encouraging and
advocating for growth opportunities from stressor experiences may enhance aspects such as
performance, feedback seeking, and lessened cortisol reactivity (Crum, Salovey, & Anchor,
2013). This approach is distinct from other models that emphasize the management or
RUNNING HEADER: A NEW MODEL OF RESILIENCE 26
mitigation of stress, making only a cursory acknowledgment of the role of stress in enhancing
Implications for research and practice
The contribution of this model to research is the provision of a testable model of
resilience-strengthening. Self-reflection is an understudied area, particularly in the context of
resilience development. Perhaps the most important practical implication of this model is that
it proposes a new framework for developing resilience in individuals not experiencing
psychopathology. Current stress management and resilience training programs focus on
teaching discrete coping and emotion regulatory skills (e.g., meditation, relaxation, cognitive
reframing) for the management of stressors (for review see: Robertson, Cooper, Sarkar, &
Curran, 2015; Vanhove, Herian, Perez, Harms, & Lester, 2015). Three opportunities emerge
from a self-reflection approach: (1) the strategies resulting from self-reflection are suited to the
individual’s values, culture, personal style, and strengths, because these strategies emerge from
the person’s unique reflections; (2) individuals can emerge with a personalized model of
resilience that is context specific allowing flexibility as contextual demands change; and (3)
this approach conveys that stressors can be an opportunity for growth and empowerment, rather
than implying that stressors need to be managed or mitigated, as is common for skills-based
techniques (Crum, et al., 2013). The training derived from this approach emphasizes the
capacity of the individual to make choices with respect to the engagement of resilient
capacities, contingent on one’s development and cognitive maturation. We suggest that the
initial focus of resilience training should be on encouraging participants to engage in the five
reflective practices identified above. These reflective practices can be encouraged via the use
of structured reflective journals or coaching sessions where individuals are asked to reflect on
their stressor experiences as well as their initial reactions, their approaches to managing
stressors, the effectiveness of these strategies, and how their capacities may be modified in the
RUNNING HEADER: A NEW MODEL OF RESILIENCE 27
future. However, the mechanism for eliciting reflection may require modification depending
on cognitive maturation. We propose that there is the potential to capitalize on the resilience
strengthening properties of stressors by encouraging these reflective practices. Future research
is required to identify how to best encourage such practices, and whether there are participant
characteristics that inhibit the development of these metacognitive skills.
Our vision is to move beyond a harm-reduction approach to stressors and determine
how individuals can use stressors and adversity as resilience-strengthening opportunities. The
Systematic Self-Reflection model provides a testable framework regarding a mechanism that
enables resilience to be strengthened throughout one’s cognitive maturation across the lifespan
via the use of five reflective practices. In combination, these reflective practices are expected
to facilitate the development and strengthening of three key resilient capacities (i.e., resilient
belief systems, usage of the coping and emotion regulatory repertoire, and coping resources)
that improve the likelihood of future resilient outcomes. The Systematic Self-Reflection model
proposes a new framework for developing resilience in individuals across the lifespan by
encouraging these reflective practices. To this end, longitudinal research is warranted to test
the five hypotheses outlined, as the findings from this line of inquiry have the potential to
inform the development and further refinement of resiliency-based interventions for
individuals across the lifespan. Moreover, as Systematic Self-Reflection is proposed to be
applicable to both life stressors and more serious adversities, it has the potential to inform
preventative treatment programs to extend people’s resilient-capacities, including at-risk
populations who may be more vulnerable to chronic stress exposure.
RUNNING HEADER: A NEW MODEL OF RESILIENCE 28
Table 1: Similarity and differences between the presently proposed Systematic Self-Reflection model and past models that suggest a role
of stressors in the emergence of resilience.
Similarities to the Systematic Self-Reflection
Unique aspects of the Systematic Self-Reflection Model
Metatheory of resilience
Jensen, & Kumpfer,
Resilience strengthening is triggered by disruptive
events and involves a process of introspection related
to ‘identifying, accessing, and nurturing resilient
qualities’ (Richardson, 2002, p. 312). This process is
referred to as resilient reintegration. The model
proposes that without this process life events would
only continually create resource loss and disruption
because there is no process to acquire resilient
qualities. The model suggests that the resiliency
process may occur over seconds to years depending
on the severity and/or information that needs to be
The model specifies that resilient reintegration depends on
particular skills (e.g., good interpersonal skills, creative
problem solving) and traits (e.g., sense of humour, self-
confidence). In the resiliency model, these skills and traits are
an amorphous cluster of factors facilitating resilient
reintegration. There is no clearly articulated process regarding
the way resilient reintegration occurs and how these factors
support it. In the Systematic Self-Reflection model of
resilience strengthening, we propose a well-articulated and
testable mechanism for the emergence of resilience from
stressors and adversity.
Model of restorative
wellbeing (Lent, 2004)
The Model of Restorative Well-being principally
describes the restoration of wellbeing when people
are beset by difficulty. Recovery from disruptive
events involves environmental supports and
The Model of Restorative Well-being does not describe how
the coping repertoire, coping efficacy, and resources are
enhanced in response to stressors. Moreover, enhancement is
considered to be derived directly from coping success. In
RUNNING HEADER: A NEW MODEL OF RESILIENCE 29
resources, coping efficacy, coping appraisals and
coping strategies. Similarly, the Systematic Self-
Reflection model that proposes that all these
processes are involved in one’s initial response to
stress (path a). The Model of Restorative Well-being
also acknowledges the potential for enhanced coping
to emerge from stressful life events. In particular,
successful coping is thought to enhance one’s coping
repertoire, sense of coping efficacy, and personal and
social resources that enable coping capacity into the
contrast, the focus of the Systematic Self-Reflection model of
resilience strengthening is describing how resilience is
strengthened from stressor exposure. The Systematic Self-
Reflection model articulates the multifaceted self-reflective
practices necessary for strengthening resilience. Moreover,
the Systematic Self-Reflection model suggests that the
success of the initial stressor response is not necessary for
strengthening resilience. Even when the initial response is
inadequate to meet demands, capabilities can still be
developed if appropriate self-reflection takes place.
Stress inoculation involves the acquisition of new
coping and emotion regulatory skills as part of
exposure to stressors. The Systematic Self-Reflection
model of resilience strengthening similarly proposes
a capacity building role for stressors that lead to
downstream enhancements in resilience.
A first key difference is the population these perspectives are
applied to and why. Stress inoculation approaches are
typically applied to assist with the management of stress or
for those experiencing distress. The focus of the Systematic
Self-Reflection model of resilience strengthening is on the
development of resilient capacities from adversity in well
Second, in stress inoculation, the mechanism for ensuring that
stressor exposure results in adaptive, rather than maladaptive
RUNNING HEADER: A NEW MODEL OF RESILIENCE 30
coping is the psychologist. The psychologist provides
guidance regarding strategies to enhance the coping
repertoire. In the Systematic Self-Reflection model, the agent
of coping modification is the individual enabled by their
capacity to engage in adaptive self-reflection.
Third, during stress inoculation coping skills are rehearsed
during role-plays, simulations and using mental imagery that
evokes the experience of distress. In the Systematic Self-
Reflection model, the emphasis is on the development of
several self-reflective practices that enable the individual to
make their own judgments about effective and ineffective
coping and emotion regulatory approaches. The coping
repertoire is increased over time as one reflects on the
stressors he/she experiences, rather than teaching discrete
coping strategies for specific situations. The individual is
equipped to apply the self-reflective practice to any stressor
situation encountered in situ, rather than engaging in training
that is situation specific.
RUNNING HEADER: A NEW MODEL OF RESILIENCE 31
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Table 1: Similarity and differences between the presently proposed Systematic Self-Reflection model and past models that suggest a role
of stressors in the emergence of resilience.
Similarities to the Systematic Self-Reflection Model
Unique aspects of the Systematic Self-Reflection
Metatheory of resilience
Jensen, & Kumpfer,
Resilient reintegration involves enhanced resilience
triggered by disruptive events. It involves a process of
introspection related to ‘identifying, accessing, and
nurturing resilient qualities’ (Richardson, 2002, p. 312).
The resiliency model proposes that without this process
of resilient reintegration, life events would continually
create resource loss and disruption, because there is
otherwise no process to acquire resilient qualities. The
model suggests that the resiliency process may occur
over seconds to years depending on the severity and/or
information that needs to be integrated.
The resiliency model specifies that resilient reintegration
depends on particular skills (e.g., good interpersonal
skills, creative problem solving) and traits (e.g., sense of
humour, self-confidence). In the resiliency model, these
skills and traits are an amorphous cluster of factors
facilitating resilient reintegration. There are no clearly
articulated processes regarding the way resilient
reintegration occurs and how these factors support it. In
the Systematic Self-Reflection model, we propose a
clear, specific, and testable mechanism for the
emergence of resilience from stressors and adversity.
Model of restorative
wellbeing (Lent, 2004)
The Model of Restorative Well-being principally
describes the restoration of wellbeing when people are
beset by difficulty. Recovery from disruptive events is
said to involve environmental supports and resources,
coping efficacy, coping appraisals and coping strategies.
The Model of Restorative Well-being does not describe
how the coping repertoire, coping efficacy, or resources
are enhanced in response to stressors over time.
Moreover, enhancement is considered to be derived
directly from coping success. In contrast, the focus of the
RUNNING HEADER: A NEW MODEL OF RESILIENCE 41
This is akin to the Systematic Self-Reflection model that
proposes that all these processes are involved in one’s
initial response to stress (path a).
The Model of Restorative Well-being also acknowledges
the potential for enhanced coping to emerge from
stressful life events. In particular, successful coping is
thought to enhance one’s coping repertoire, sense of
coping efficacy, and personal and social resources that
enable coping capacity into the future.
Systematic Self-Reflection model is describing how
resilience is strengthened from stressor exposure. In
particular, the Systematic Self-Reflection model
articulates specific self-reflective practices necessary for
strengthening resilience. Further, the Systematic Self-
Reflection model suggests that the success of the initial
stressor response is not necessary for strengthening
resilience. Even when the initial response is inadequate
to meet demands, capabilities can still be developed if
appropriate self-reflection takes place.
Stress inoculation involves exposure to stressors and the
idea that stress exposure allows for the acquisition of new
skills as part of exposure. The Systematic Self-
Reflection model similarly proposes a capacity-building
role for stressors that lead to downstream enhancements
A first key difference is the population these perspectives
are applied to and why. Stress inoculation approaches are
typically applied to assist with the management of stress
or for those experiencing distress. The focus of the
Systematic Self-Reflection model is on the development
of resilience from adversity in those who are not
necessarily experiencing distress.
Second, in stress inoculation, the mechanism for
ensuring that stressor exposure results in adaptive, rather
than maladaptive coping is the psychologist. The
RUNNING HEADER: A NEW MODEL OF RESILIENCE 42
psychologist provides guidance regarding strategies to
enhance the coping and emotion regulatory repertoire. In
the Systematic Self-Reflection model, the agent of
strategy modification is the individual, enabled by their
capacity to engage in appropriate self-reflection.
Third, during stress inoculation, coping skills are
rehearsed during role-plays, simulations and using
mental imagery that evoke the experience of distress. The
Systematic Self-Reflection model emphasizes
experiential learning via the development of five self-
reflective practices that enable the individual to make
their own judgements about effective and ineffective
approaches to coping an emotion regulation. In this way,
the coping and emotion regulatory repertoire is expanded
over time as a bi-product of self-reflection, as one
encounters stressors in one’s life, rather than being taught
discrete strategies for specific situations. Thus, the
individual is equipped to apply the self-reflective
practice to any stressor situation encountered in situ,
rather than engaging in training that is situation-specific.