Date of Award

Spring 5-17-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Clinical Psychology (PhD)


Clinical Psychology

First Advisor/Committee Member

Jacob Bentley

Second Advisor/Committee Member

Thane Erickson

Third Advisor/Committee Member

Anka Vujanovic


Psychological resilience, or one’s ability to return to their baseline biopsychosocialspiritual homeostasis following a stressor or potentially traumatic event (PTE), is protective against psychological distress and symptom presentations such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), yet little is known about what psychosocial factors influence resilience. Building upon theories of resilience, coping, and posttraumatic cognitions, this study investigated the indirect pathway from posttraumatic cognitions to resilience through coping processes among a sample of N = 117 first responders. Path analysis was used to test the parallel indirect effect model. Results from the path analysis suggested that only the hypothesized indirect effect from posttraumatic cognitions to resilience via disengagement coping processes was statistically significant. For the specific pathways, more posttraumatic cognitions were associated with lower resilience even after controlling for coping processes, greater use of disengagement coping processes was associated with lower resilience, and greater use of emotion-focused engagement coping processes was associated with higher resilience. Post-hoc tests identified a strong and negative relationship between negative cognitions about the self and resilience. This study is the first to identify the relationship between posttraumatic cognitions and resilience among first responders, and provides evidence that disengagement coping processes may be especially relevant to this relationship. Interventions that simultaneously target posttraumatic cognitions and disengagement coping may be especially efficacious for first responders, and interventions that provide emotion-focused engagement coping processes may have a positive influence on first responders’ resilience. Continued investigation of the underlying theoretical model is needed, and alternate appraisal and coping constructs should be considered.