GRAFENWOEHR, Germany – The 7th Army Training Command (7ATC) Headquarters and Headquarters Company (HHC) hosts refresher training for Master Resilience Trainers (MRTs) at Tower Barracks Chapel, Nov. 15, 2023.
This training was organized by 7ATC Ready and Resilient (R2) Program Analyst, Linda Stewart, and facilitated by R2 Performance Center performance experts to provide customized resilience training to MRTs that will help them improve unit performance and cohesion. This training serves as a refresher of the skills they use in their daily lives.
“The class used to be exclusively offered at the University of Pennsylvania, since many of the professors in UPenn’s Positive Psychology program developed the MRT curriculum,” said Nicholas S. Powell, MRT performance expert. “Eventually, as people in our contract were trained as MRTs, the responsibility to teach was passed to us. Since we had performance centers set up all over the country, and now all over the world, it allowed us to expand our sphere of influence to people who might otherwise not be able to attend the class.”
The MRT resource center has 14 skills that they implement in their program to develop self-awareness, optimism and mental agility in MRTs. The refresher training focused heavily on two of those skills: Activating Event, Thoughts and Consequences (ATC) and Character Strengths.
“ATC is the basic building block of self-awareness, ideally leading to an increased ability to self-regulate thereby increasing Soldiers’ ability to work effectively with the rest of their unit,” said Powell. “Working to improve the weaknesses of yourself and those around you is half the battle in building effective Soldiers, but it is crucial not to forget the other half: knowing and putting into use the character strengths of yourself and those around you.”
ATC is a key component of unit cohesion. A person is asked to separate the Activating Event (A) from their Thoughts (T) and their thoughts from the Consequences (C): emotions and reactions, in order to understand their reaction to a situation. The purpose of this skill is to get MRTs to identify their thoughts about an activating event and the consequences of those events.
“Having multiple participants offers different perspectives,” said 7ATC Sgt. 1st Class Anna Ma. “When we do these exercises some people have perspectives based on their life experiences, and having the group guides you into a more productive thought process.”
A further evolution that has been emphasized is making sure that MRT is not only taught in a classroom. When MRTs take the material out of the classroom and into their day-to-day lives, a deeper understanding of the material is possible. These skills and concepts can be applied to all aspects of life. Expanded depth of understanding of the MRT course, new ideas for how to implement the 14 skills into daily tasks and an increased network of other MRTs to coordinate with is the intention behind the refresher training.
“A lot of people think that resilience means just being positive no matter what. Resilience is about understanding oneself and being psychologically flexible in order to successfully navigate life’s ups and downs, and not about being blindly optimistic 100 percent of the time,” said Powell.
These skills are the basic tools required to succeed in a modern Army in which everyone is highly dependent on each to accomplish the mission. Without individuals who are able to effectively manage themselves – knowing how to grow and learn, work with others and maintain an emotional balance – the Army cannot truly be ready or resilient. “MRT is a full toolbox, not just one hammer,” said Powell.
“MRT is something you practice every day, mostly subconsciously,” said Ma. “Having a structured class helps you identify skills to teach your soldiers.”