Risk and Resilience in
Child and Adolescent
Psychopathology:
Processes of Stress,
Coping, and Emotion
Regulation
Chapter 4
Bruce E. Compas and Charissa Andreotti
TERMINOLOGICAL AND
CONCEPTUAL ISSUES
 Risk and Resilience
 Risk: Refers to increased probability of a negative
developmental outcome in a specified population (Kraemer et
al., 1997, 2001).
 Risk factor: Is an agent or characteristic of the individual or the
environment that is related to the increased probability of a negative
outcome.
 Resilience: Does not merely imply a personality trait or an attribute of
the individual; rather, it is intended to reflect a process of positive
adaptation in the presence of risk that may be the result of individual
factors, environmental factors, or the interplay of the two (Luthar, 2006;
Luthar & Cicchetti, 2000).
TERMINOLOGICAL AND
CONCEPTUAL ISSUES
 Stress and Coping: Unifying Concepts for
Understanding Risk and Resilience
 Stress: Environmental circumstances or conditions that
threaten, challenge, exceed, or harm the psychological or
biological capacities of the individual.
• Transactional approaches: Suggest that the occurrence of stress is
dependent on the degree to which individuals perceive
environmental demands as threatening, challenging, or harmful
(Lazarus & Folkman, 1984).
• Environmental perspectives: Have emphasized the importance of
objectively documenting the occurrence of environmental events
and conditions independent of the potential confounds of cognitive
appraisals (Cohen, Kessler, & Gordon, 1995).
TERMINOLOGICAL AND
CONCEPTUAL ISSUES
 Stress Findings:
 Stress is best conceptualized in terms of the occurrence of acute
events or chronic conditions or circumstances (stressors) that
threaten the physical or mental health of the child or adolescent (Grant
et al., 2003).
 Exposure to stressful events and chronic adversity predict increases
in both internalizing and externalizing symptoms over time (Grant et al.,
2004).
 Exposure to stressful life events functions as a distal risk factor and is
mediated by more proximal family characteristics, including disrupted
parenting and parent-child relationships (Grant et al., 2003, 2006).
 Exposure to stressful events and chronic sources of adversity
appears to operate as a nonspecific risk factor that places children
and adolescents at risk for the full range of internalizing and
externalizing forms of psychopathology (McMahon et al., 2003).
NEW DIRECTIONS IN RESEARCH
ON STRESS
 Coping
 Refers to the ongoing dynamic process that changes in response to the
changing demands of a stressful encounter or event.
 Coping is a purposeful response that is directed toward resolving the
stressful relationship between the self and the environment (problemfocused coping) or toward alleviating negative emotions that arise as a
result of stress (emotion-focused coping).
 Three-factor control-based model of coping for children and adolescents:
• Primary control engagement (problem solving, emotional modulation, emotional
expression)
• Secondary control engagement (acceptance, cognitive reappraisal, positive thinking,
distraction)
• Disengagement (cognitive and behavioral avoidance, denial, wishful thinking).
(Compas et al., 2001, in press; Connor-Smith et al., 2000; Rudolph, Dennig, & Weisz, 1995)
 The ability to cope with stress is a potential source of resilience.
NEW DIRECTIONS IN RESEARCH
ON STRESS
 Integration of coping and emotion regulation
 Emotion: A person-environment interaction
requiring attention that involves considerable
personal significance and evokes a complex,
continuously evolving response (Gross & Thompson, 2007)
 Primary emotions: Are direct responses to environmental
stimuli and constitute a biological preparation for
response (including anger, sadness, fear, happiness,
disgust, surprise).
 Secondary emotions: Occur as a result of primary
emotions (e.g., shame, pride).
NEW DIRECTIONS IN RESEARCH
ON STRESS
 Emotion Regulation:
 “The extrinsic and intrinsic processes responsible
for monitoring, evaluating, and modifying emotional
reactions, especially their intensive and temporal
feature, to accomplish one’s goals” (Thompson, 1994, pp. 27–
28).
 There are multiple facets of emotion-regulation that
range from recognizing and understanding one’s
emotions to taking steps to try to alter or modify
their intensity and duration.
New Directions in Research on
Coping
 Differences and similarities between coping and
emotion regulation:
 Coping typically refers to the down-regulation of a
negative emotion while emotion regulation also includes
the maintenance or augmentation of a positive emotion
(Eisenberg, Fabes, & Guthrie, 1997).
 In the coping literature cognitive restructuring or efforts to
actively reinterpret stressful or negative events in more
neutral or positive terms overlaps with the cognitive
reappraisal form of emotion regulation, reduction of
physiological and emotional arousal when an individual is
presented with an emotional stimulus.
RISK AND RESILIENCE: EXAMPLES FROM
RESEARCH ON STRESS, COPING, AND
DEPRESSION
 Depression provides a useful example of risk and
resilience because it increases dramatically in
prevalence over the course of childhood and
adolescence and research has identified stress as
a significant source of risk, stress reactivity as a
potential vulnerability factor, and coping as a
source of resilience.
RISK AND RESILIENCE: EXAMPLES FROM
RESEARCH ON STRESS, COPING, AND
DEPRESSION
 Risk processes
 Through risk processes, offspring of depressed parents
are at increased risk for depression and other forms of
psychopathology. Yet, even under the stressful
circumstances of having a parent with depression, some
or even most children are resilient and adapt
successfully.
 Effects of parental depression on offspring are likely
transmitted through:
•
•
•
•
Heritability of depression
Innate dysfunctional neuroregulatory mechanisms
Exposure to negative maternal cognitions, behaviors, and affect
The stressful context of the adolescent’s life
RISK AND RESILIENCE: EXAMPLES FROM
RESEARCH ON STRESS, COPING, AND
DEPRESSION
 Coping and emotion regulation as sources of
resilience in children of depressed parents.
 Coping may function as a mediator or moderator between
parental depression and child psychopathology
 Coping and Stress Responses
• Adolescents with depressed mothers had higher levels stress
reactivity (e.g., emotional and physiological arousal, intrusive
thoughts), lower levels of secondary control coping and higher
externalizing behaviors (Jaser et al., 2008).
 Coping and Emotion Regulation
• Studies suggest that processes of coping and emotion regulation
may develop during childhood and carry over into adolescence
(Forbes et al., 2006a, 2006b; Silk et al., 2006a, 2006b).
RISK AND RESILIENCE: EXAMPLES FROM
RESEARCH ON STRESS, COPING, AND
DEPRESSION
 Prevention of psychopathology in children of
depressed parents
 Family group cognitive-behavioral (FGCB) intervention
(Compas, Forehand, & Keller, 2011; Compas, Langrock, Keller, Merchant, & Copeland,
2001).
• A manualized 12-session program (8 weekly and 4 monthly follow-up
sessions) that is designed to teach coping skills to families with a parent
who has a history of a depressive disorder in a small family group
format.
• Designed to address the hypothesized mediators of the effects of
parental depression on children: parental depressive symptoms and
negative affect, stressful parent-child interactions, and children’s coping
with these stressors.
• Focus on secondary control coping strategies.
RISK AND RESILIENCE: EXAMPLES FROM
RESEARCH ON STRESS, COPING, AND
DEPRESSION
 Results of the FGCB intervention:
• Significantly lower levels of internalizing symptoms at 2-, 6-, 12-, and
18 months.
• Significantly lower externalizing symptoms at 12-, 18-, and 24
months.
• There was an effect on a specific youth self-report measures of
depressive symptoms at 12 months and mixed anxiety-depression
symptoms at 2-, 6-, 12-, and 18 months.
• Effects on parents’ reports of their children symptoms were quite
limited, with the only significant effect occurring for externalizing
symptoms on the CBCL at 12-months.
• A significant effect on children’s episodes of major depression as
measured with diagnostic interviews with the parents and children.
RISK AND RESILIENCE: EXAMPLES FROM
RESEARCH ON STRESS, COPING, AND
DEPRESSION
 Meditational Effects of the FGCB intervention:
• No significant effects of the intervention were found on children’s
primary control coping.
• Significant effects on secondary control coping, and strong
evidence was found for secondary control coping as a protective
factor for both internalizing and externalizing symptoms.
CONCLUSIONS
 Exposure to stress and adversity and the ways that
individuals cope with stress are central to
understanding sources of risk and resilience to
psychopathology in children and adolescents.
 Stressful life events and chronic adversity, most
notably poverty and chronic abuse during development
are powerful, nonspecific predictors of internalizing and
externalizing symptoms and disorders.
 Advances in research on children and adolescents at
high risk for depression provides salient examples of
risk and resilience processes in this population.