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Jan 2015 by PCI College

Bite-Sized Book Review: True Resilience - Building a Life of Strength, Courage & Meaning. An Interactive Guide by Dr. Gail Wagnild

Mike Hackett, PCI College Lecturer, finds 'True Resilience' by Dr. Gail Wagnild to be exceptionally relevant, well written and accessible, providing an actual strategy to implement resilience as a life-long practice.

It’s rare these days to find a book which actually does (proverbially) exactly what it says on the tin! True Resilience is one of these rare gems. Dr Gail Wagnild has spent her professional life looking at what it is to be resilient, having listened to the experiences of hundreds of people over decades of study.  Further, she has managed to translate an immense body of material into a wonderful source of information, education, encouragement, reflection, insight and action on our own journey toward an ultimately meaningful and resilient life.

‘True Resilience’ is, in essence, a positive book, but not one full of trite platitudes, vain mantras, or hollow sentiment, but one which actually captures the struggles we have in our daily home and work lives; and in a very practical way, equips us with valuable insights, not simply a sequence of tactical steps, but an actual strategy to implement resilience as a life-long practice!

What has drawn me so powerfully to this book (from the many dozens of books now available on the subject)? In essence, I have found Dr Wagnild’s work to be exceptionally relevant, well written and accessible in a very human, focussed, down-to-earth way. In my work as a therapist I have already used some of her suggestions for reflection and exploration to frame discussions on resilience, meaning and critical self-reflection with my clients who are struggling to find their ground after traumatic or significant adversity. In my work with students, I have found that the tools and techniques mentioned in the book can really help those students who are struggling to balance the pressures and stresses of assignments and assessments in completing an honours degree programme, who also work full time and lead demanding family lives. In my own journey, I have found wonderful signposts toward improving my own resilience in the many roles I play in daily life, and have engaged critically in using the often probing questions to benefit my own personal, relational life, working toward ultimate meaning making in the of life’s adversities.

Another important factor in such a book is whether or not the material and positions set out are in fact evidence based. Clearly Dr Wagnild has invested not just much of her professional life, but also, much of herself in this work. The Resilience Scale™ (which you can find in the appendix of the book to measure your own resilience) is supported by years of scientific research and this adds a tremendously valuable credibility and quality to the work making it in my opinion an exceptional contribution to the growing field of resilience and positive psychology.

And so, if you feel that adversity is a hot-topic in your life, the lives of your clients, colleagues, families or communities and need a carefully thought out, evidence based, accessible book on how to develop life-long resilience skills, then perhaps this is a book for you.

Mike Hackett, PMP ARCHTI MIACP (January 2015)
PCI College Lecturer & Psychotherapist

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