From 2015 to 2020, we trained clinicians and graduate students to deliver the Resilience Builder Program® to small groups of students in Maryland and Washington, DC. For twelve weeks, our clinicians went directly into elementary schools and worked with children who school counselors, teachers, or administrators had identified as needing additional support. Using this approach, we were able to support about 200 children in total.

Listen to our students in this episode of NPR’s All Things Considered

Beginning in the 2021-2022 school year, we are adapting the program for use by teachers and  training them to deliver our curriculum to their entire class. In addition to providing a detailed curriculum and intensive training, we will have regular check-ins for teachers with our clinicians to provide support with program implementation. With this approach, we will be able to support over 300 students this year alone.

Our research-based approach to building resilience focuses on helping children learn to be proactive leaders, strengthen their social connections, and bounce back from difficult experiences. Childhood resilience is associated with improved behavior, peer relationships, family functioning, and academic engagement—all of which lead to a healthy transition to adulthood.

Resilience Builder Program®

The Resilience Builder Program® was developed by our Founder and President of the Board, Dr. Mary Alvord, and colleagues in the 1990s. It is a group therapy program that has been clinically proven to help children in private practice. It is designed to help youth bounce back from the challenges in their lives by increasing confidence, self-esteem, self-control, and the use of coping strategies.

Group activities help develop the following specific protective factors associated with resilience:

  • Proactive orientation toward life
  • Self-regulation of attention, emotions, and behavior
  • Social connections and attachments
  • Achievements and talents
  • Community ties
  • Proactive parenting

Each session encourages self-awareness, flexible thinking, and social competence. Through discussion, role-play, and other hands-on techniques, group members learn about self-talk, personal space awareness, problem solving, anger/anxiety management, friendship skills, and other topics essential to well-being and social success.

Relaxation techniques including calm breathing, visualization, progressive muscle relaxation, and yoga enhance self-regulation. And at-home practice, community field trips, and a parent involvement component help group members generalize what they learn to the world outside the group.

Resilience Builder Program Universal™

Our new curriculum is built on the successes of the Resilience Builder Program® and adapts its evidence-based approach to the classroom environment. It helps children develop the same protective factors, such as self-regulation and the use of coping strategies. We also provide resources for parents on building resilience skills at home. The lessons themselves are segmented into shorter activities to facilitate its implementation alongside the standard academic curriculum.