Resilience Training for Women
Jewish Family Services, April-May 2010
Each session included lectures, questions and answers, and practice in at least one special resilience training technique. Participants were provided with a free CD for home use to train themselves to be more resilient. Strategies for overcoming barriers to practice were provided in most sessions.
- Session One:
- This session explained the nature of resilience and what training for increasing resilience can do for you. We covered topics such as: What benefits people can get from improved resilience (with emphasis on benefits specific to women), that even a little effort to change can have large effects, the characteristics of resilient people. It also included a training procedure to use in building resilience and a psychological self-assessment of participants’ resilience levels.
- Session Two:
- We described the three core factors that characterize resilient people and identified readily available resilience-enhancing strategies that ordinary resilient people use. We discussed scientific evidence that such strategies are effective. We went on to reveal evidence that more specialized methods such as deep relaxation training can have an especially profound effect.
- Session Three:
- This session focused on retraining thought patterns in ways that enhance resilience. Particular emphasis was on reducing pessimism and increasing optimism as well as learning to challenge and alter hypersensitive, self-critical patterns of thinking. Issues special to women, such as the danger of self-silencing, were emphasized.
- Session Four:
- This session focused first on the remarkable benefits of exercise in improving resilience, how to select personally suitable types of exercise, and how to motivate yourself to persist in exercising. Next it focused on the impact of effective communication of feelings in controlling stress reactions, with specific details of how to express them constructively instead of making it an exercise in raising your blood pressure and annoying other people.
Resilience Training For Seniors
The Shepherd’s Center, January/February 2010
We conducted a 5 week resilience training program designed specifically to meet the needs of seniors. Our resilience training has always included work with people who are dealing with the challenges of aging well and maintaining a high quality of life as they deal with the difficulties that accompany their later years.
This course consisted of 5 sessions. Each session included brief lectures, discussions, and the practice of resilience building techniques. Participants were given a free CD to help them practice resilience skills.
In the first session we explained the negative effects of stress and the difficulties of avoiding it. We explained our view that the best solution is to learn methods of increasing resilience in order to neutralize stress effects and live well despite life’s demands. We guided participants through our first resilience technique, a form of autogenic training.
In the second session we reviewed research we have done on the ways ordinary people deal with life in resilient ways. Most of them involve the use of “automatic brain programs”, that is, patterns that are already deeply ingrained in the minds habitual patterns and thus block out stress responses. Examples are contact comfort, pleasant, engrossing distraction, soothing sensory stimulation, etc. We discussed how to make it more likely that, when under stress, participants will remember to use these methods.
Again we guided participants through one of our scientifically tested resilience techniques.
In session three we focused on ways to avoid making a bad situation worse, particularly through self-criticism. We also trained the group to direct their attention on positive events in life, a method known to decrease stress reactions and enhance happiness.
In session four, we focused on how to deepen self-understanding by getting clear about our reactions to bad situations. This included a discussion of how to use meditation, journaling and “focusing” in order to understand our reactions more fully.
In session five, we analyzed the life patterns of Lance Armstrong and showed how well they correspond to patterns we discovered through our research on resilience. We used that discussion to discuss the importance of other people in maintaining resilient patterns of living. We also had a final discussion on ways to encourage ourselves to continue resilience practices. We ended, as we did with all sessions by guiding the group through a deep relaxation experience.
Beyond Stress Management: Training the Mind For Resilience
University of Missouri-Kansas City Counseling Center, Annually Since 2007
These presentations, designed for professional staff and post-doctoral interns, were brief introductions to the concept of resilience training and its particular importance, for people having difficulty with life’s challenges. They included the following content:
- The three core factors underlying resilience and how to assess where a person stands on them.
- The nature and importance of resilience.
- Three key steps toward teaching people to be more resilient.
- A review of teachable techniques for strengthening clients on the first core factor,”Resilient Attitudes, Skills, and Habits”, including a review of major methods of inducing deep relaxation, finding meaning in distressing situations, self-replenishment routines, exercise, and encouraging resilient thought patterns.
- A review of teachable techniques for strengthening clients on the second core factor, “Hypersensitivity/Perfectionism/Self-Criticism”, including ways to defuse one’s “inner critic” by actively challenging it and through the practice of mindfulness meditation.
- A review of teachable techniques for strengthening clients on the third core factor, “Communication/Expressiveness”, including methods of increasing awareness of feeling about distressing events and methods, such as journaling, to express them.
- Finally we discussed the role of other people in helping or hindering resilience training practices, including way to teach significant others how to help and ways to keep them from creating barriers to success.
Presentations Based On An Early Version of Our Resilience Training Program
Resilience: Learning to Bend Without Breaking.
Jewish Family Services, December 2008
This was designed to help people learn what factors can make them resilient, to discover their own strengths and weaknesses, and to gain the skills needed to become more resilient.
Resilience 101: The Art and Science of Controlling Stress.
Blue River Community College, November 2006
Lectures and discussions on the nature and importance of resilience and on ways to increase it. Demonstrations of how to use resilience training techniques.
Precursors of the Current Resilience Program
We have conducted programs to provide people techniques for dealing with stress and living a more relaxed, happier and successful life. Most of these techniques are incorporated into the present resilience training program. It took us many years to see how central the resilience component really is. The following is a brief list of some places where we have done those earlier presentations.
- University of Missouri-Kansas City Medical School.
- Kansas City V.A. Medical Center.
- University of Missouri-Kansas City Division of Continuing Education.
- Jewish Community Center, Kansas City.
- Village Presbyterian Church, Prairie Village, Kansas.
- Ossawatomie State Hospital, Ossawatomie, Kansas.
- Gestalt and Social Competence Institute, Kansas City.
- Transactional Analysis in Kansas City.
- Johnson County Mental Health Foundation, Johnson County, Kansas.
- Penn Valley Community College, Kansas City.
- Independence Sanitarium, Independence, Missouri
- Pioneer Community College, Kansas City.
- Jewish Geriatric and Convalescent Center and Shalom Plaza, Kansas City.
- Community Christian Church, Overland Park, Kansas.
- Kansas City Mental Health Foundation.