Resilience training aims to build stronger Families
March 15, 2012
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (Mar. 15, 2012) -- "It's an eye-opener." "You understand yourself better." "The light bulb turns on." "It's about self-awareness." All these phrases and more have been used to describe resilience training, a new class offered by Army Community Service.
The Army partnered with the University of Pennsylvania and found that resilient people have six basic competencies, said Ruth Gonzalez, ACS relocation readiness program manager and resilience training instructor.
The competencies include self-awareness, self-regulation, optimism, mental agility, strengths of character and connection. The resilience training offered by ACS teaches skills that enable participants to build the six competencies.
"I think the study shows that people who have those six competencies were better able to deal with the challenges and adversities, or even the good things in their lives. Sometimes good things can be a bit overwhelming as well," said William Allen, director of ACS and another instructor.
A condensed version of the class will be offered Mar. 21 and 22, but a full version will be offered in April. That class will meet four hours a day every Monday in April for a total of 20 hours.
Shellie Kelly, Army Family Action Plan program manger, has been through resilience training. She calls it an "awesome opportunity" -- especially for military spouses.
Kelly said military spouses are often so busy meeting the needs of everyone around them that they don't have time to focus on themselves. This class gives them a chance to do that. She goes on to compare the training to other conferences that would cost several thousand dollars to attend as a civilian.
"It's a class where you actually do a lot of participation and a lot of exercises," Allen said. "(The participants) will walk away with skills that will help them in their lives."
He said the class is structured like a pyramid.
"We start at the bottom and we start building skills," he said.
The initial skills ask participants to reflect back on specific situations in their lives and ask themselves questions such as, "Should I have felt that way?" "Why did I feel that way?" "What could I have done differently?" The answers to these questions build self-awareness, one of the six competencies.
From there, the class continues on to self-regulating and other skills such as identifying deep-seated beliefs and values, Allen said.
"If I'm not sure of my feelings or thoughts or why something upsets me or makes me happy or emotional, then I cant really work with it, so we give our students skills to be able to recognize what pushes their buttons so they can control it or understand where it's coming from and prepare for it later," Gonzalez explains.
The goal of the class is to teach people to use the skills in real-time, not just in reflecting back, Allen said.
"Resilience is a process. There is no end. There is no 'I've arrived,'" Gonzalez added.
She said she may be resilient right now, but that six or seven months from now she may realize she needs to get back to the skills of understanding reactions and feelings because she doesn't understand herself as well as she once did.
"It doesn't matter where you are or how resilient you are, you can still pick up some things in the class," Allen said. "It's about identifying things that can help you and help others as well."
The class is geared toward spouses and Family members because resilience training is being incorporated into training the Soldiers already get, Allen said.
"We're trying to get the Soldiers and spouses on the same page when communicating so they'll hopefully have a more successful relationship and Family as they become more resilient," Gonzalez said.
However, Gonzalez cautions against using the training to try to change other people. "This is a training where you change yourself. This is not going home and doing it for your husband or the kids," she said.
Allen described the class as "personal." Though participants are encouraged to take part in the discussions and exercises, they don't have to share anything. However, both Allen and Gonzalez say they can tell when people start to see how the skills and competencies apply to their lives.
"It's really great as an instructor when you see that ah-ha moment," Allen said. "People will start looking at the pyramid and start sharing and they'll come up with something in their lives they might want to do a little differently … they're coming up with strategies to fix it as they go through the class. It's a good feeling, as an instructor, to watch that happen."
Kelly said the class was difficult to describe in just a few words but "the competencies are effective. If you take them, learn them, use them and continue to grow in them, then you will be a more resilient person. No matter what wave crashes over you, you're going to rise to the surface."
To register for resilience training or for more information, call 255-3817. Group classes can be scheduled separately as time allows.