Reviewing the labyrinth of psychological resilience: Establishing criteria for resilience-building programs

Richta C. IJntema*, Yvonne D. Burger, Wilmar B. Schaufeli

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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There is a growing interest in developing resilience-building programs in the work context. Yet the resilience literature provides no clear answer about what constitutes such a program. The aim of this article is to shed light on this question by presenting a set of criteria for resilience-building programs. We developed these criteria by systematically reviewing studies that synthesized the evidence about the definition, conceptualization, measurement, and enhancement of psychological resilience. A literature search in peer-review journals published between 2009 and 2018 using PsycINFO resulted in 286 hits. Twenty-one studies met our inclusion criteria. In addition, we consulted 3 handbooks on resilience. The result of our review is a checklist of 12 criteria for resilience-building programs to improve program consistency and quality. These criteria address the necessity to: specify which working population is in need of psychological resilience; cite which definition is being used; display and explain the process that people go through in order to adapt to adversity; describe how resilience will be measured and enhanced as a dynamic process, as well as say which type of positive adaptation-to which adversity, in which work context, and when-is involved; and make clear the starting point and purpose of the work. These criteria can be regarded as a valuable navigation tool in the complex field of resilience: Program developers can use them to optimize the content of resilience-building programs and to ensure that relevant information is reported; reviewers of resilience-building programs can use them to analyze, evaluate, and compare programs. Therefore, the checklist could become an indispensable tool for both researchers and practitioners to improve designing, describing, and reviewing resilience-building programs at work.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)288-304
Number of pages17
JournalConsulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research
Issue number4
Early online date23 Sept 2019
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019


  • Criteria
  • Program
  • Psychological resilience
  • Review
  • Work


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