Resilience and Trauma – The BASIC Ph Model

The BASIC Ph model is a method of understanding resilience in the face of trauma, and was developed by Professor Mooli Lahad.

About Professor Mooli Lahad

Professor Mooli Lahad is considered one of the world’s leading experts on community, public behaviour and coping with disasters. He has two PhDs, one in Psychology and the other in Human and Life Sciences. He is a psychologist, a teacher, an author, and a humanitarian. In 1979 he founded, and remains President of, the Community Stress Prevention Center (CSPC) in Kiryat Shmona, Israel, and is a former vice president of the Israel Trauma Coalition (ITC). He developed the Integrative Model of Coping and Resiliency called The BASIC Ph model adopted by other practitioners worldwide, including by NATO’s Science for Peace and Security (SPS) Programme.

He spoke in detail about the BASIC Ph Model when to Brighton Therapy Partnership workshop attendees in March 2019. You can watch the full presentation via our online training video.

Here are some of the key learning points.

What is resilience?

Resilience is a term which is hard to quantify, as it refers to a person’s ability to cope with, and recover from a given situation. However, that explanation gives no hints as to how one might develop resilience.

a cracking brick wall under pressure

Whilst we may assume that trauma would cause many of us to falter, we actually have certain capabilities that enable us to thrive under pressure.

Professor Lahad, having himself lived through war in Israel has witnessed first-hand what resilience looks like in action. His experience aligns with written experiences of people who have lived through uncertainty and devastation of their world through events such as the Holocaust, terrorism, war, and natural disasters. Whilst those of us experiencing life in a relatively normal state (i.e. one in which life will continue as it always has done) may imagine ourselves falling apart in such extreme circumstances. However, the power of resilience means that in reality this often isn’t the case. People can in fact thrive whilst their known world crumbles around them.

The question then remains – how can people continue to experience joy and laughter, growth and good mental health where we might naturally expect the opposite?

Introducing the BASIC Ph model

The ‘BASIC Ph’ model was developed by Professor Lahad in 2004 and focuses on people’s natural coping mechanisms, of which he has identified six types. The model suggests that we are each able to possess six potential characteristics that each represent a different style of coping, and that the more of these styles we are able to utilise, the more resilience we are able to harness in order to regain a sense of control in an otherwise terrifying situation.

The six coping styles:

  • B – belief
    Belief can be a powerful factor in resilience. This can be through faith or any other shared beliefs and relies on inner core values. Shared beliefs are particularly helpful as they also provide external support.
  • A – affect
    Feelings or emotions. By expressing through emotions we are able to share fears, anger, sorrow etc and have these emotions validated externally to make us feel less alone.
  • S – social
    Via support-seeking through friendships or organisations we can gain a sense of responsibility within a group which can help us to stay grounded. A decrease in isolation alongside an increase in social responsibility can restore emotional security.
  • I – imagination
    Creativity is a method of coping with trauma which children are particularly adept at utilising. Expression of thoughts and feelings in a creative manner can allow a safer feeling release of expression through art, writing, drama or music.
  • C – cognitive
    Cognitive coping skills utilise problem solving and a direct approach to the issue. Strategising with others can make people feel less alone, and more in control of their situation.
  • Ph – physical
    Physical activity takes us back to our mammalian routes. It has the dual benefit of providing informal processing of a situation alongside a release of feelings in an indirect way.

We each use these coping styles in our lives whether we are experiencing major crisis, or minor inconvenience. We are fluent in some, some are familiar and others are alien to our way of being, but the more we are able to utilise, the more resilient we are.

warzone resilience

One need not look further than victims of war-stricken environments to see the BASIC Ph in action every single day.

Understanding your resilience methods

An exercise to help determine which coping styles are most natural to each of us is called the six-panelled story. Professor Lahad asked us to divide a sheet of paper into 6 boxes with the following headings, before adding a couple of sentences to each to form the skeleton of a story:

1. Who is the main character?
2. What is the mission?
3. Who or what can help them?
4. What are the obstacles they face?
5. How does the character undertake the challenge/meet the obstacles?
6. What is the outcome/what happens next?

Once you have written your story, take 6 coloured pencils (each colour to represent one of the six coping styles) and mark examples of each of the coping styles as they appear in your writing. For example if you describe your character as looking ‘big and scary’ that would be an example of Affect, or if your character used their ‘super strength’ that would be an example of Physical.

Once you have finished going through the story make a note of how many of each of the styles you have used. You might have lots for some and none for others, or you might be evenly spread throughout the styles, but this is what indicates your current resilience languages. Those you score highly on you are fluent in, those with a few examples you are aware of but aren’t drawn to, and those with no examples highlight coping strategies you never use.

Once you know your strengths, you can develop your weaknesses through practice and conscious effort, and thus create for yourself a more rounded coping strategy. The more languages we speak, the more resilient we can be.

Want to learn more about this approach to understanding resilience? Check out Professor Mooli Lahad’s book on The “BASIC Ph” Model of Coping and Resiliency

Did you enjoy this article? Watch the full presentation via our online training video.


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