Kevin Berry, MD on Resilience: “We Need to Look Beyond Bouncing Back.”


Resilience means different things for individuals, for communities and for the military. Over the last 15 years, Samueli Institute and its expert partners have explored a wider understanding of resilience than was previously understood. During this exploration, it was discovered that resilience is indubitably more complex than its traditional definition of being able to recover from trauma. Real resilience involves preparedness –the ability to adjust to upcoming trauma and stress.

 “Often times people think of resilience as bouncing back, I think we need to think beyond bouncing back.” –Kevin Berry, MD of Samueli Institute

Resilience requires stages of evolution and preparation. It also requires the individuals or communities involved to make an overall transformation from their previous state to the state of well-being. Also, resilience is dependent upon a well environment and the perception of the individuals or communities involved. This is obviously more complex than the standard “bouncing back” theories of the past.


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Kevin Berry MD



On the subject of resilience, experts have developed the term “resilience thinking,” which refers to the idea of eventually being able to transform. Evolution as a prerequisite for resilience suggests that the mind has more power during the path to wellbeing than most other factors. This is because, without the thought that one can prosper, their perception is perturbed, making resilience just a word, having nothing to do with the life of an individual or the state of community.


Preparedness is a common theme in communities like the U.S. Military, but not as common in others. Being prepared for the positive changes that come with resilience is as simple as being aware of the past and present. For individuals, understanding the current and past states and learning from them, is preparation. For communities, understanding their past and present circumstances, what caused them and the role certain individuals may have played, allows the community to recognize when similar issues arise in the future.


“The idea of being able to transform–about being able to pick up and move on,” as Dr.  Berry explains, is a sound example of resilience thinking. The process of transforming requires an alternate mindset, which motivates new actions for better outcomes.

Resilience works when all of the factors that contributed to the trauma or stress are understood and overcome; and when the individual or communities except that trauma and stress are almost impossible to avoid.

The most important component of resilience to understand is the future. Trauma or stress may re-occur, but true resilience leaves individuals or communities fully equipped to handle future circumstances.


Samueli Institute recently launched a new website, to materialize the evidence behind integrative medicine, encourage the implementation of mind-body practices in standard care and discuss how mind-body medicine can positively impact the future of our healthcare system. Be sure to visit the site.

What role does leadership play in military resilience? Watch video of Dr. Kevin Berry at the 2016 Military and Veteran Resiliency Summit in San Deigo: WATCH