Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Clinical Psychology, PhD



Faculty Advisor

Amy Marks


Research on resilience, or “the capacity of a dynamic system to withstand or recover from significant challenges that threaten its stability, viability, or development” (Masten, 2011, p. 494) is a burgeoning field, particularly in the area of childhood resilience. Recent literature has moved away from the idea of resilience as a trait someone has or does not have and toward the integration of resilience at multiple levels beyond the individual child, such as their family and their community (Masten, 2014b; Masten, 2015; Southwick, Bonanno, Masten, Panter-Brick, & Yehuda, 2014). To address this call, this dissertation presents two original studies of multilevel resilience with groups of children that have been historically underrepresented in the literature: children with refugee statuses and children with trauma histories who live in low-income, urban neighborhoods. Study 1 is a review of the extent literature on resilience characteristics of refugee children, incorporating research with groups of refugees from a number of different countries that have been resettled all over the world. Study 1 takes a new approach to the existing literature by outlining what resilience characteristics refugee children are accessing at different ecological levels, as well as the most promising treatments and interventions to help bolster resilience for future groups of refugee children. Study 2 is an original empirical study that contributes to the existing literature by investigating resilience characteristics at the individual, family, and community levels as perceived by both children and caregivers, to get a comprehensive picture of the myriad ways children with trauma histories are currently coping with stressors and new life challenges. Study 2 uses the personal narratives of children and their caregivers to understand their own perspectives on resilience in the present, as opposed to retrospectively or through an outside observer’s perspective. Results from both studies show the importance of the family level as it contributes children’s overall resilience and positive adaptation after significant trauma or stressors, and I make recommendations for the best courses of action for research, clinical, and policy implications for children who may be vulnerable to trauma or revictimization based on these studies.

Included in

Psychology Commons