Recalibrating Resilience (Guest Blog by Robert Aurbach)

The Global Resilience Collaborative welcomes the latest guest blog contributor Rob Aurbach whose wealth of experience in areas of personal injury system design, rehabilitation, resilience, and disability management adds another dimension to resilience discipline. 

I’ve been writing since 2008 about why some people recover uneventfully while others with similar injuries sink into despair and dependency. Insight based upon discoveries in neuroscience has led to the development of a working understanding of why and how system created disability and secondary psychological overlay to claims occurs.

Rob_illustration_for_blogIt always seemed to me that the opposite side of the same coin was individual resilience.  Some people are able to “bounce back” from challenges that cause others to crumble.  But the literature around resilience didn’t seem helpful – it shed no real insight as to how resilience worked, or even what it was.  And the training based upon the research failed to be realistically adaptable for many people – there is a high level of rejection of the popularly touted strategies.

The same approach that helps us understand acquired disability behaviour leads to a more robust understanding of what individual resilience is and how it works. Moreover, it shows us that different people have different resilience skills, and that development of those skills can be individually tailored to achieve greater acceptance and uptake.

A three-part article describing those findings appeared in the professional column at Workcompcentral (URL below).   Accompanying it is a free web app on my website that allows you to test your preferences among the resilience “styles” so that you can choose wisely when developing new tools for your resilience tool box.  The potential for more tailored interventions for injured people (and the stressed claims managers and service providers that deal with them) is significant.

Key points:

  • Individual resilience research has been based upon correlation studies across populations
  • Such research doesn’t define the operational mechanism, or provide tailored individual recommendations. High rejection rates of suggested approaches follow.
  • An approach to understanding individual resilience based in contemporary neuroscience creates an understanding of the operational mechanism of resilience that allows us to account for the wide variations amongst resilient people that we observe in the world.
  • Classification and testing of individual preferences amongst “resilience styles” allows a person to select new resilience skills that are sufficiently acceptable to overcome rejection and facilitate habituation.
  • Testing resources are available for free, online.

Join me in reviewing the article and the web resources. I hope that you find it helpful.  I’d love your feedback and your help in advancing the promise of individually tailored resilience development.


About the author

Rob_AurbachRob spent 15 years as the chief legal and policy development officer for an American statutory compensation authority. During the last decade Rob has assisted 10 governmental entities in reviewing and improving their workers’ compensation systems as a consultant.  In Australia, Rob has worked for various public and private clients, including Deakin University, WCD Workers’ Compensation Solutions, Comcare, the Department of Veteran’s Affairs, the Department of Employment and WorkCover NSW.

Rob’s research focus has been on understanding why some people recover from physical and psychological injury as expected, while others do not. He has written more than 50 articles and book chapters and speaks internationally on personal injury system design, rehabilitation, resilience, and disability management.