Resilience scale: What it measures and how it can help

Medically reviewed by Andrea Brant, LMHC
Updated April 25, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team
Content warning: Please be advised, the below article might mention trauma-related topics that could be triggering to the reader. Please see our Get Help Now page for more immediate resources.

Would you like to know how well you're equipped to bounce back after trauma and tragedy? The Connor Davidson Resilience Scale CD RISC 10 can help you find out. In short, the Resilience Scale CD RISC is a point scale used to measure an individual’s resilience in a stress situation that could potentially cause depression and anxiety.

Trauma and tragedy are a reality of life for many different individuals, but that doesn’t make these experiences any easier to work through. Knowing how resilient you are by measuring resilience through this scale with good psychometric properties and high internal consistency can help you face these situations with a greater understanding of your personal characteristics, strengths, and weaknesses in handling internal and external stressors.

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Are you struggling to bounce back after experiencing a trauma?

What is resilience?

Resilience refers to a person’s ability to thrive in the face of adversity and bounce back from it. This adversity could be a traumatic event or situation; these happen to many people in the general population at one time or another. If you're resilient, you're better able to move through stressful events relatively quickly and easily, comparatively. Being resilient doesn’t mean that tragedy doesn’t affect you or still pose hurt and unpleasant feelings; it just means that you have the internal consistency and capacity to move forward even amid hardship.

Resilience is a trait you're born with and develop during your childhood. Since you’ll continue to face new challenges and experiences as you move through life, learning how to build resilience is a continual process. Whether you’re a resilient person already or have just learned how to manage the process better, you can still commit to growing more in this area, with the help of social support and other resources.

Research focusing on the resilience scale, including the Connor Davidson theories and others, indicate that people, including young adults, are capable of building resilience.

What is the Connor and Davidson Resilience Scale?

The Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale is a test that measures resilience, with psychometric properties and a unidimensional scale. It starts with a pencil-and-paper evaluation that is then scored and interpreted by someone who is authorized to do so. The main purpose of the Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale is to distinguish between people with greater resilience and those with less, through assessing higher scores and total score.

What does the Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale measure?

The Connor Davidson Resilience Scale (CD-RISC) measures five basic components of resilience. These are:

  • Your abilities, standards, and characteristics.
  • Trusting your intuition, enduring hard feelings, and recovering from stress.
  • Accepting change positively and having safe relationships.
  • The amount of control you feel you have over your circumstances.
  • How spirituality influences you.

What's the point of measuring my resilience?

The Connor Davidson Resilience Scale can provide several benefits, including:

  • Gaining Awareness: Knowing how resilient you are can help you understand yourself on a deeper level. For instance, if you find that you're not very resilient, you can consider how to become more confident and high resilience. If you find that you are already very resilient, that knowledge can help you feel more confident about trying new ventures with ease. 

  • Choosing The Right Treatment For You: If you're experiencing anxiety, PTSD, or depression, getting treatment can be a powerful first step toward a healthier lifestyle. The Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale can be used to assess which treatments may work best for you. How you score on the original scale can give your mental health professional more insight into which medications or therapies might be most effective for treating whatever you’re facing.

  • Recovering From PTSD: People who have PTSD, or trauma exposure, typically (but not always) score low on the CD-RISC. By taking the test and having a doctor or therapist score and interpret it, you can gain valuable knowledge about the severity of your condition. Then, after you're in treatment for a while, your therapist might give you the test again to help you see how much progress you're making toward overcoming your PTSD.

  • Improving Resilience: The scale can also help your therapist determine what steps you need to take to improve your resilience. If you feel vulnerable to most bumps in the road of life, you might want to consider working on your resilience to become more stable and trusting of yourself and your abilities. The CD-RISC can point your therapist to the different aspects of resilience that you score low in, including the factor structure of resilience, such as acceptance of change.

Who are Connor and Davidson?

Kathryn M. Connor is a psychiatrist and researcher at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina. Connor has researched and written extensively on stress, anxiety, social anxiety, medications, and resilience.

Jonathan R.T. Davidson is now a Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Duke University. His long list of publication credits includes reports and interpretations of studies on a wide range of psychiatric topics, including many on PTSD. Davidson has also written on homeopathic and complementary medicine.

How Connor and Davidson developed their scale

Connor and Davidson began developing their scale after working with PTSD patients in clinical practice. They found that the resilience scales available at the time didn't help them much in treating their patients. They wanted to develop a test that could be used in a wide variety of circumstances and with many different people. They also wanted a scale they could use to assist people with PTSD and other mental health problems. 

Studying several distinct groups, they modified the original version of the test extensively before creating a version to be used in the field. The groups listed below were among those analyzed, and their mean scores out of the maximum score of 100 were as follows:

  • The general community, with a mean score of 80.7

  • Primary care patients, with a mean score of 71.8

  • General psychiatric outpatients, with a mean score of 68.0

  • Generalized anxiety clinical trial group, with a mean score of 62.4

  • Two PTSD clinical trial groups, with mean scores of 47.8 and 52.8


Who is the test for?

The CD-RISC was designed for adults. It's been found reliable when used for adolescents and children as young as ten years old. The test is written at a 5th-grade reading level, so most children 12 and up can take it. However, if you do need help, an assistant can read the questions for you.

Youth with serious mental challenges may work to attain higher resilience scores and increase their self-awareness of how they handle stress. This may lead to the development of a new strategy to manage depression and anxiety. The study of resilience indicates it is a key factor in mental wellbeing. 

How many items are on the test?

There are three versions of the test, all based on the original test. The original complete test has 25 items. You need to complete at least 19 of these for the test to be valid. 

If you don't have much time to take the test, you can take the brief resilience scale, which is the 10-question version, or the two-question version. On the 10-question test, you need to complete at least seven items. For both the 25-item and 10-item versions, the test results will be the most accurate if you answer all the questions. The two-item test is called the CD-RISC2. Each of the shorter tests uses 10 or two, respectively, of the exact questions on the 25-item test.

Often, one of these shorter versions is used for screening, and the complete version is used during treatment. However, Connor and Davidson have suggested that the much shorter two-item version is valid and sufficient to assess resilience, demonstrating convergent validity and divergent validity.

How much time does it take?

Most people can take the 25-item version within 10 minutes. The 10-item and two-item versions only take between one and five minutes to take.

Who gives and scores the test?

Anyone who gives the test must request it from Connor and Davidson. They must state their qualifications and purposes for using the scale. Most people who give this test are doctors, psychiatrists, and therapists. The person who gives the test is the one who scores it.

Are you struggling to bounce back after experiencing a trauma?

Where can I take the test?

The Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale is mainly used in research projects and in clinical practice. Unless you are a participant in a clinical trial, you'll most likely receive it from a doctor, psychiatrist, or therapist, who can analyze the positive affect and negative affect in your responses.

You can take the test anywhere that is appropriate and agreed upon by you and whoever is giving you the test. If you’re interested in taking it, speak with your doctor or therapist and decide when and where to do it.

You shouldn’t attempt to take the test on your own. There's no evidence or expectation that the test would be effective without the supervision of someone who has been given official approval to give it. Any test versions online are either incomplete or incorrect.

A counselor uses the authentic version of the CD-RISC scale. There are only three authorized versions of the CD-RISC, which have gone through factor analysis and structural equation modeling to ensure their accuracy. They all come directly from Connor and Davidson. The 25-question contains all the questions, and the 10-question and two-question tests contain items selected from the original 25-question test.

No other version has been tested and evaluated as the Connor Davidson test has been. None of the others have been proven both accurate and helpful. The questions on the test are formulated in a specific way based on extensive knowledge, research, and consideration. The wording and order of the questions have been carefully refined and studied to get the most accurate results.

It might be interesting to take the test online or on your own, but it won't tell you anything that will help you unless it's given properly and interpreted by someone who is trained to do so. Qualified professionals understand how the test should be used and applied to individual clients. It's vital to request the test from someone who can give it, including doctors, psychiatrists, and therapists.

Online therapy with BetterHelp

Developing resiliency can be a continual process. If you’re wanting to improve your ability to handle the stressors and hardships of life, speaking to a licensed BetterHelp therapist may be beneficial.

Speaking about traumatic experiences can be difficult, even when you have people in your life that you trust. Online therapy may give you the safety you need to be able to open up completely about how you’re feeling. A therapist can guide you through discussions in a safe, supportive environment that fosters and encourages growth.

The efficacy of online therapy

Online therapy can be just as effective as traditional face-to-face therapy for treating a variety of mental health disorders. One study looked at the efficacy of online therapy in treating PTSD. Researchers found that an internet-delivered intervention “proved to be a viable treatment alternative for PTSD with large effect sizes and sustained treatment effects.” In addition, results showed that participants were able to establish a “stable and positive” online relationship with their therapists. 


While some people seem to naturally bounce back from hardships from a young age, others must develop their resiliency over time. The Connor Davidson Resilience Scale, as a new resilience scale, can give you some insight into how well you handle difficult situations and move forward. For those who would like to improve their resiliency, online therapy can be a helpful option. Though tragedy and trauma are natural aspects of life, it's rarely true that they have to stand in your way and hold you back forever.

Cultivate emotional resilience with a professional
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