A Resilience Toolkit: My Experience

Posted by Joel Bennett on

What's in Your Resilience Toolkit?

by Dan Jolivet, M.A., Ph.D. (see Dan's LinkedIn)

Resilience is a set of tools that anyone can learn

We usually talk about resilience as if it’s an inherent characteristic of a person, an innate capacity to cope with stress. I don’t think that’s correct.

Although some people may be born with a greater ability to recover following a crisis, everyone can learn skills to help them through tough times. We can all survive, adapt, and even grow through adversity.

Resilience is less a trait and more a collection of learned behaviors. As suggested above, we can all learn ways to be more resilient.

These aren’t just my opinions. An entire body of scientific research demonstrates that people can and do learn to be resilient. 

Resilience involves using a set of tools anyone can learn that will help them respond effectively to challenges. I talk about my Resilience Toolkit. I have to make a conscious effort to practice different coping strategies daily and to learn new skills whenever I can.

Expanding my tool-kit

There are few evidence-based approaches for resilience tool-kits

It’s no surprise, then, that I was eager to learn how to facilitate the “Resilience and Thriving” course from Dr. Joel Bennett and his book "Raw Coping Power." I figured that I’d pick up plenty of pointers and new tactics to add to my own personal toolkit.

More important to me, though, was the potential professional benefit of being able to offer the training. I’m a behavioral health professional, a licensed clinical psychologist, and, although I haven’t practiced for almost 20 years, I still want to add to my psychotherapeutic armamentarium – my clinical toolkit.

When it comes to clinical approaches, though, I’m only interested in evidence-based tools with peer-reviewed studies supporting them. Despite all the research I mentioned above, there are remarkably few resilience training classes that meet those requirements.

I jumped at the chance to learn this one. I work for an insurance company, and I saw resilience training as an opportunity to offer primary prevention to our employer group customers, a way to head off problems before they became serious enough to require treatment. But it had to be more than just a feel-good session with no subsequent changes for the participants.

My success

My experience now tells me that many people can create their own tool-kit

I completed the certification training in October 2019 and facilitated my first course in January 2020, just before the pandemic shut everything down. It’s come in handy. Mental health has been a hot topic in the workplace for years, of course, but COVID-19 and all the stress it brought made supporting employee mental wellness a top priority for many companies.

Since that first course, I’ve trained 475 people and have more scheduled in the coming months. Some of the pre-to-post results are presented below.

I received many positive comments after the training. For example, in response to a question about what they found most helpful, one person wrote,

“Bringing awareness to my destructive coping, but also realizing I am actually coping well in many areas, and starting to believe resilience/thriving might be attainable.

I am not at the mercy of outside forces tearing me down.”

Another wrote,

“Knowing I have options and choices I might not have normally thought of.”

Overall, the responses from participants have been wonderful. To date, the overall average training score I’ve obtained is 4.54 out of 5.00. For example, almost 90% agreed with the statement "I would recommend this workshop to others."

Several people have contacted me after the training to share that they’re using the skills with their significant others and family members. They have even told me they’re teaching their kids how to use the process to cope when they feel stressed.

A key component of an overall well-being program

Resilience training is not a panacea. It can help people cope with difficulties, but it doesn’t replace the need for appropriate treatment when they’re struggling with mental health or substance use conditions. Also, individual resilience training doesn’t address the effects of a dysfunctional or toxic company culture – for that, you need organizational resilience training (learn more about such training from OWLS).

Still, learning how to identify and address stress before it becomes overwhelming is an essential skill for everyone.

In my opinion, resilience training – and particularly the “Resilience to Thriving” course – is an essential skill for every behavioral health professional.

What’s in your toolkit?




This piece is not intended as medical or legal advice. Always speak with your medical provider before initiating a diet or exercise regimen or if you have medical questions. If you have legal questions, consult with an attorney.

This article represents my own opinions as a non-physician and does not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer.

Share this post

← Older Post Newer Post →

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published.