Defining resilience in maltreated children from the practitioners’ perspectives: A qualitative study

Susan Yoon, Rebecca Dillard, Fei Pei, Karla Shockley McCarthy, Brieanne Beaujolais, Xiafei Wang, Kathryn Maguire-Jack, Kathryn Wolf, Sarah Cochey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Background: Increasingly, studies have focused on understanding positive outcomes in children who have been maltreated and the factors that contribute to resilience. However, there is no universally accepted definition of resilience, thus hindering the ability to make comparisons across studies and to use such information to inform interventions to foster resilience. Objective: The current study sought to address this gap by examining definitions of resilience in practitioners who work directly with maltreated children. Participants and setting: 27 participants were recruited through two agencies that serve victims of child maltreatment in an urban Midwestern city. Methods: Through a series of 27 qualitative interviews, the current study examined the following research question: “How is resilience defined and understood by practitioners working with children who have experienced child maltreatment?” Thematic coding and analysis were used to analyze the data. Results: Findings suggest five unique themes described by practitioners as their definition of resilience: (a) surviving; (b) thriving; (c) perseverance; (d) reconciling and integrating traumatic experiences into healthy identity development; and (e) advocating for self. Conclusions: Our findings highlight the spectral and nuanced nature of resilience among maltreated children. Implications for theory, research and practice are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104516
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
StatePublished - Aug 2020


  • Child maltreatment
  • Children
  • Qualitative
  • Resilience

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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