Towards a process-based understanding of resilience: an investigation into post-trauma resilience in Eritrean refugees

Rossi, Alexia (2012) Towards a process-based understanding of resilience: an investigation into post-trauma resilience in Eritrean refugees. Doctoral thesis, London Metropolitan University.


Resilience literature has recently seen an important shift in focus from the identification of individual characteristics that seem to contribute to positive adaptation to a focus on how these characteristics appear to work together cumulatively to result in such adaptation. There is a paucity of research though that conceptualises post-trauma resilience as an interactional and transactional process or adopts a culturally-sensitive perspective. This study therefore sets out to consider some of these gaps by qualitatively investigating the processes underlying resilience from an ecological, developmental and culturally-sensitive perspective in an adult population that have endured high levels of psychological trauma. Refugees were the population of choice given the proportionally high levels of exposure to traumatic events present within this population. Moreover, the study of the resilience process within the experience of refugees hailing from certain cultural backgrounds such as Eritrean is remarkably scarce. Six in-depth interviews were conducted with Eritrean refugees who have sought asylum in Malta. Subsequently, in the theoretical sampling stage, an additional seventh interview was conducted with one of the original participants. Themes garnered from a constructivist grounded theory data analysis high light the role in resilience of a variety of psychological processes including responding to external messages critically and analytically and striving to maintain existential well-being. Additionally, analysis pointed towards the role of contextual factors such as religious practices and cu ltural norms and indicated the presence of a set of transactional processes between these two aspects. Finally. a theoretical model was developed attempting to capture how these processes operate in conj unction to lead to post-trauma resilience in Eritrean refugees. Following a discussion of this study's limitations, suggestions detailing how future research can help enlighten areas that were only partially examined by this research, were provided. Finally, implications for theory and practice were discussed in view of providing suggestions for resilience-based interventions for refugees exposed to traumatic events.

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