This spring, the American Psychological Association (APA) Journals released a limited special series on, “The Psychology of Resilience,” guest-edited by Jack Tsai, PhD, UTHealth School of Public Health San Antonio Campus Dean. This series of special issues across four different journals showcase the latest research on the various ways in which humans adapt to adversity and trauma.
Recent events including the COVID-19 pandemic, social injustice, natural disasters, political unrest, and war have played a role in the lived experiences of many. The journal series plays an important role in the timeliness of such events, as individuals and communities around the world face a number of challenges caused by such occurrences.
“Resilience is essential to human evolution and development,” said Tsai. “Our environment is constantly changing and our ability to adapt and persevere is key to human survival and growth.”
Published in April 2022, each of the four journals covers a specific focus on different areas of study in resilience research including Psychological Services, Healthy Psychology, Military Psychology, and Psychological Trauma. Serving as lead guest editor, Tsai oversaw the print and publication of all four special journal issues.
The series was originally organized and funded by APA prior to the COVID-19 global outbreak. While soliciting articles for publication, Tsai mentions that the topics and themes for each of the articles gradually incorporated elements and focused work on the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Given the timeline we were seeking articles, we obtained a nice array of articles that were both tied to the COVID-19 pandemic and those that were not. Together these articles reveal greater knowledge and truths about the human condition of resilience for the pandemic and across stressful and traumatic events,” said Tsai.
Through assessments, surveys, and analysis of other data sources, researchers are able to build the knowledge base on how far resilience research has come, and how this information can help people and communities build resilience.
“Our resilience has helped us not crumble at every problem that arises. Resilience is a function of our ability to manage stress, overcome problems, and process trauma. Much like physical strength, many researchers believe our psychological strength can be developed over time,” he said.
In addition to his regional leadership role, Tsai serves as research director for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) National Center on Homelessness Among Veterans and adjunct faculty at Yale University School of Medicine.