The resonant response of a multilevel atomic system to strong coherent radiation is analyzed using an extension of the methods of time-independent scattering theory, adapted to the density-matrix formalism in order to include thermal bath effects. General steady-state expressions are derived for self-attenuation and resonance scattering rates in strong saturating fields, as functions of the coupling strengths, relaxation parameters, and frequency detunings. Formal expressions are given for radiative-damping and collision-broadening relaxation parameters, relating the latter to scattering amplitudes. Modifications of collision-broadening parameters by the presence of very strong fields are discussed. The Bloch equations are derived by transformation to the time domain, under specified conditions.