News Detail

Emma PeConga and Gabby Gauthier talk about resilience during Covid, in this Psychology Today article. Emma and Gabby are students of Lori Zoellner

The Power of Resilience During COVID-19Interview with Emma PeConga and Gabby Gauthier on how to build resilience

Posted Jul 26, 2020


Resilience does not come easily but there are ways to cultivate it, even during COVID-19. In this interview, Emma PeConga and Gabby Gauthier discuss the importance of resilience and how we can work towards it amidst the current pandemic.

Emma PeConga, B.A., is a third-year and Gabby Gauthier, B.A., is a second-year doctoral student in Clinical Psychology at the University of Washington. We are both members of the UW Center for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress where our work focuses primarily on the development and maintenance of post-traumatic stress disorderThe Seattle Times has also covered our work on coping and resilience in the time of COVID-19.

Jamie Aten: How did you first get interested in this topic?

Emma PeConga & Gabby Gauthier: When the COVID-19 pandemic started, we began to see media coverage on increasing levels of anxietydepression, and substance use and valid concerns about the long-term effects of this pandemic on our mental health. But at the University of Washington Center for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress (UWCATS), where we study how responses to traumatic stress develop, we know that resilience and recovery are, in fact, the most common responses to even the most severe trauma and adversity. We agree that we should all be vigilant about risks to our mental health during this time, but we also think it is important to honor the incredible human capacity to keep moving forward in the face of tremendous adversity. Although the COVID-19 global pandemic is in many ways unchartered territory, we wanted to spread our knowledge that we expect long-term resilience to be the most common outcome, even for those most directly impacted or those on the frontlines of the outbreak. We hope this knowledge instills hope and encourages readers to keep putting one foot in front of the other during these difficult times.

 JA: What was the focus of your study?

EP & GG: We wanted to combat four common myths about resilience and offer some ways to systematically build individual and community resiliency. These myths are: trauma exposure always leads to mental illness, resilient people don’t have bad days or weeks, resilience is a fixed disposition, and the mental health risk associated with COVID-19 is a hoax. We address each myth by pulling together the findings of recent research on human resilience.

Read the entire article here.