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Virtual Issue - Resilience and Recovery

Julian D. Ford, Guest Co-Editor
Patricia K. Kerig, Editor in Chief, Journal of Traumatic Stress

This virtual special issue of the Journal of Traumatic Stress gathers together a collection of articles on the theme of this year’s International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies (ISTSS) Annual Meeting: “Trauma, Recovery, and Resilience: Charting a Course Forward.” The choice of this as the theme for this year’s ISTSS meeting was inspired by a key paradigm shift in the field, of viewing the goal of traumatic stress prevention, assessment, intervention, and research as involving more than overcoming symptoms and impairment. From the earliest clinical observations more than a century ago (and in literature, for many millennia), recovery from the adverse impact of psychological traumas has been understood as a healing process that integrally involves the recruitment and promotion of the capacities for resilience in survivors, their families, and their communities. As the modern field of traumatic stress studies has emerged and evolved, with landmark work such as Judith Herman’s book (1992) Trauma and Recovery, the remarkable capacity for resilience of trauma survivors has been a consistent theme. In the past decade, clinical and scientific research on posttraumatic resilience has taken a quantum leap from an implicit theme to an explicit major focus. The articles in this Virtual Special Issue on Recovery and Resilience demonstrate the reach of this movement and provide a foundation for describing how recovery from exposure to psychological trauma involves more than mitigating or managing symptoms. The range of studies gathered here have a global reach, involving many different societies and cultures and including diverse populations, ranging from military personnel and veterans and their families, children and adolescents, and survivors of mass traumas, community violence, and interpersonal and sexual violence. The research represented here shows we are learning how variations in risk and protective factors impact not only vulnerability to posttraumatic impairment but also support and promote resilience. We also are uncovering the ways in which resilience occurs through biological and psychosocial adaptations that change over time in trajectories which can inform the development and timing of preventive and ameliorative interventions for trauma survivors. We will be learning much more in the next decade about how to define and assess posttraumatic resilience, and how to create, implement, and demonstrate the efficacy and effectiveness of biopsychosocial interventions that tap into and enhance trauma survivors’ resilience.

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