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Research Overview
The National Resilience Resource Center sees all people as "at promise" rather than as "at risk." Our work is grounded in resilience research, as well as emerging complementary science. There are two parts to this story.
Resilience Research
  • The Case for Peers (December 1990) explores this "loadstone to prevention" and calls for a peer resource model of education with continuous opportunities for youth to be resources to each other.

  • Turning the Corner: From Risk to Resilience (updated 2004) includes 21 research summaries to support busy practitioners in learning what works to help young people avoid health-risk behaviors, including substance abuse.

Center for the Application of Prevention Technology (CAPT) 
The Resilience Research for Prevention Programs Series 
by Kathy Marshall Emerson and Bonnie Benard

Resilience research spans more than six decades. It is multi-disciplinary and international. World renowned researchers include but are not limited to Emmy Werner, Norm Garmazey, Ann Masten, Michael Rutter, Robert Blum, Michael Resnick and Dante Cicchetti. There have always been strong ties to the University of Minnesota. Studies have included child and youth development, educational psychology, mental health promotion, positive psychology, strengths-based social work, educational improvement, substance abuse prevention, community empowerment, public health interventions and more. Sample resilience research publications and summaries follow.
The Carter Center 
Promoting Positive & Healthy Behaviors in Children 

The NRRC early research base is best summarized in "Reculturing Systems with Resilience/Health Realization," by NRRC Executive Director, Kathy Marshall Emerson, in a publication of The Carter Center, Promoting Positive and Healthy Behaviors in Children. The entire publication is posted on this NRRC site with permission. Related, supportive articles by nationally known children's mental health and youth development experts are also included. Authors are Rosalynn Carter, William Foege, David Hamburg, Tammy Mann, David Weikart, Roger Weissberg, Martin Seligman, Peter Benson, Kathy Marshall, Tamara Halle, Marc Bornstein, and John Gates. 

  • Resilience in Children at-Risk  Ann S. Masten, Professor, Institute of Child Development, College of Education and Human Development, University of Minnesota

  • A Framework for Practice: Tapping Innate Resilience  Bonnie Benard, Research Editor, Resiliency In Action Consultant with Resiliency Associates, Berkeley, California; Kathy Marshall, M.A., Assistant Director, CAREI, Director, The Safe and Drug Free Schools Project, University of Minnesota

  • Traditional Native Culture and Resilience  Iris HeavyRunner (Blackfeet), CAREI and tribal College Faculty Development Project, University of Minnesota; Joann Sabastian Morris, Sault St. Marie (Chippewa) Director of the Office of Tribal Indian Education Programs, Bureau of Indian Affairs, U.S. Department of Interior; with Kathy Marshall, Executive Director, National Resilience Resource Center, College of Continuing Education, University of Minnesota
                See also:
           ​'Miracle Survivors': Promoting Resilience in Indian Students, Iris HeavyRunner and Kathy Marshall, Tribal College Journal of 
           American Indian Higher Education, 14(4) Summer 2003, 15-18.

  • Since Beijing  Laren Bernabo, 11, Marshall School, Duluth, Minnesota; Nina Petersen-Perlman, 11, Woodland Middle School, Duluth, Minnesota; Sara Vokes, 17, Carthage College, Kenosha, Wisconsin, one of the founding girl editors of New Moon Magazine

This resilience research and practice journal comes from the University of Minnesota Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement (CAREI). The Spring 1997 issue of Research and Practice, focused entirely on youth resilience, was edited by Bonnie Bernard and includes the following articles:

Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement 
Research and Practice: Resilience

NRRC collaborated with the U.S. Center for Substance Abuse Prevention's (CSAP) Central Center for the Application of Prevention Technology (CAPT) in providing a series of practitioner-friendly resilience research summaries. Marshall's lead article, "Bridging the Resilience Gap" explains NRRC's prevention conceptual framework. These papers are part of the National Resilience Resource Center's effort to bring resilience research into everyday practice. One free copy of this informational series is available from NRRC; contact us for details. These articles include:

Seminal Works by Bonnie Benard

Four pivotal works by Bonnie Benard are historically significant, with staying power as they synthesize important research for lay prevention practitioners. Benard squarely plants her feet on the sacred ground of ethical scholarship and social advocacy. She never waivers from her position that adults can and must do more for children, that a national agenda is yet to be fully created and funded. These early works define the foundation on which such an agenda could wisely be built. Benard's current publications, available from West Ed, round out her collection of critical evidence.
Bridging the Gap between Research and Practice
These NRRC selections provide an introduction to resilience:   

  • Marshall Emerson, K. (2020). Parenting with Heart.  and

Complementary Science
Additional science strengthens the research foundation NRRC operates from. This expanded base points in the direction of the inside-out nature of human well-being and accomplishment. These works may push boundaries and shatter paradigms.

Each study uses its own professional terminology. Scientists acknowledge a need for translational research so experts understand each other correctly. For example, what one researcher calls a mental default setting may be the same as the busy  mind described by another. Look for the essence in each study.

Briefly, NRRC sees all behavior as an outcome of a person’s state of mind. State of mind, and indeed all experience, is created moment-by-moment depending on the thought one gives attention to. Willingness to let a thought go or not, and thereby effortlessly and naturally change state of mind is governed by the functional level of understanding a child or adult has of this inside-out, internal, personal mental process. 

The following resources, not yet directly or academically associated with these principles, are included below as representative of large, established areas of relevant new scientific inquiry. Each cites extensive references for further study.  

Brief comments highlight sample findings that can be related directly to the potential value of teaching the principles. NRRC strongly recommends that every resource be carefully studied in its entirety. This is simply a roadmap to selected examples of complementary science.

Adult Development 

  • Vaillant, G. (2012). Triumphs of Experience: The Men of the Harvard Grant Study. Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. 

George E. Vaillant, MD, is a psychoanalyst and a research psychiatrist, one of the pioneers in the study of adult development. He directed Harvard’s Study of Adult Development for thirty-five years. In Triumphs of Experience Vaillant recounts following 268 men for their entire lives. This is the longest longitudinal study of its kind.  

The study discovered why some men turned out happier than others. Vaillant says, “... when it comes to late-life success—even when success is measured strictly in financial terms—the Grant Study finds that nurture trumps nature. And by far the most important influence on a flourishing life is love. Not early love exclusively, and not necessarily romantic love. But love early in life facilitates not only love later on, but also the other trappings of success, such as high income and prestige…. The majority of the men who flourished found love before 30, and the data suggests that was why they flourished.”   See more … 

Key research findings call for the promotion of mental health and psychological wellness as fundamental to improving student outcomes. Resilience and youth development research applies. Selected educational effectiveness and achievement studies are also important: 

Fullan warns in an ever complex and contentious world, we can no longer afford to separate wellbeing and learning... wellbeing is far more than the absence of  ill-being. ​

  • Hattie, J. (2012). Visible Learning for Teachers: Maximizing Impact on Learning. New York: Routledge.
  • Hattie, J. (2009). Visible Learning: A Synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement. New York: Routledge.

See Bibliography pp. 301-374 (2009), references pp. 171-182 (2012).
Among many other things, Hattie found two of the three most powerful effects emerging from this meta-analysis of more than 800 global studies on successful learning are: (1) a student’s personal expectation that he or she can learn (self-reported grades) , and (2) a teacher knowing he or she can successfully teach each and every student (formative evaluation). (2012, pp. 43, 181,297) Hattie stresses the importance of mind frames of teachers, leaders and systems. He stresses that Visible Teaching and Visible Learning occur when teachers see learning through the eyes of the student, and students see themselves as their own teachers . “See” may be understood as “think of.”

  • The Promotion of Wellness in Children and Adolescents. (2000). D. Cicchetti, J. Rapport, I. Sandler, R. Weissberg (Eds). Washington, D. C.: Child Welfare League of America Press . 

This work richly articulates the legacy of Emory Cowen’s leadership in developing students’ psychological wellness. This involves competence, resilience, social system modification and empowerment.


  • Shapiro, S. & Carlson, L. (2009). The Art and Science of Mindfulness: Integrating Mindfulness into Psychology and the Helping Professions. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

See extensive references on pp. 155-183. In Foreword comments Jon Kabat-Zinn says, “Both authors are major contributors to the developing body of research in this area as well as the actual clinical delivery of mindfulness-based approaches and other emerging applications of mindfulness. Thus they speak from a place of ongoing experience and engagement regarding both the art and the science of mindfulness and its exploration as a framework for healing. They further examine its value in elaborating an ever-deepening understanding of what it means to be human and of the degrees of freedom available to us in the present moment.” Shuana Shaperio, PhD, a professor of counseling psychology at Santa Clara University, has published more than 50 book chapters and peer reviewed journal articles. Linda Carlson, PhD, holds the Enbridge Endowed Research Chair in Psychosocial Oncology, Faculty of Medicine, at the University of Calgary and has published more than 90 book chapters and research articles in peer reviewed journals. They say, “…our intention is to present mindfulness as a universal human capacity.” (p. 4) By 2012 there were more than 477 published studies of mindfulness.


  • Sternberg, E., (2023). Well at work: Creating Wellbeing in any workplace. New York: Little, Brown Spark.
  • Sternberg, E., (2009). Healing spaces: The science of place and well-being. Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
  • Sternberg, E., (2001). The Balance Within: The Science Connecting Health and Emotions. New York: W.H. Freeman & Co.

See Bibliography pp. 213-227 (2001), pp. 299-324 (2009). Esther Sternberg, MD, is currently Director of Research, University of Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, and was Chief, Section on Neuroendocrine Immunology and Behavior, and Director of the Integrative Neural Immune Program, U. S. National Institute of Mental Health, National Institute of Health.  

Sternberg’s credentials and expertise, publications, global influence, reputation and heartfelt message can rock the firmest foundation. She meticulously lays the foundation for understanding the medical relationship of mind and body. Her arguments are compelling and scholarship flawless. Healing Spaces  establishes the important science connecting place and well-being. The Balance Within outlines solid science connecting health and emotions. She discusses groundbreaking questions. Can believing make you well? “…the placebo is a very potent cure, since at least one-third of the effect of any cure, whether modern medication or health regimen of any sort comes from that belief that it will cure, from the placebo effect.” (p. 167.) 

 “Since so many different chemicals that come through the nerves coursing down the spinal cord from the brain can change the way the immune cells work—turn them up or turn them down—it is logical to expect that changing the flow of such nerve chemicals by any mechanism could alter inflammation. So, if interfering with the flow with surgical cuts or drug treatment can block arthritis, why couldn’t conditioning and belief do so as well?” (p. 178). 

“We have moved…to a different soil: one where…popular culture pushes a sometimes reluctant scientific world…. The mind-body connection, first a child of the popular culture, is finally making its way in these echoing halls as more and more scientific evidence accumulates to strengthen the proof of these connections.” (p. 198)

 “Perhaps …we could learn to disconnect the feelings from the events…. It then takes one more step to imagine that the emotions that come attached or disconnected could trigger the nerve and hormone pathways that could change the immune system and thus our physical health. ” (p. 161)

Listen to Dr. Sternberg: 

        Healing Spaces

Neuroscience , Psychology, Philosophy and Spirituality   

  • Sood, A. (2009, 2010). Train Your Brain Engage Your Heart Transform Your Life: A Course in Attention & Interpretation Therapy (AIT). Charleston, SC: Morning Dew Publications, LLC.
  • Sood, A. (2009, 2010). Attention & Interpretation Therapy (AIT): A Personal Workbook. Charleston, SC: Morning Dew Publications, LLC.

See references pp. 411-443 (Train You Brain). Amit Sood, MD MSc, Mayo Clinic Department of General Internal Medicine, is Associate Professor of Medicine, Chair of the Mind Body Initiative, Director of Research & Practice, and Complementary and Integrative Medicine Associate Director. With impressive medical training in both India and the United States, Dr. Sood beautifully draws on a deep understanding of neuroscience, psychology, philosophy, and spirituality. 

One reviewer asks: “Have you ever wondered if there is a way to integrate science and spirituality to nurture a healthier brain, and abiding peace and joy? Are peace, joy, resilience, and altruism hardwired within us, and if so, why do they play hide and seek with us and are not so easily accessible? Scientists and mystics have been asking these questions for a very long time.”

Train Your Brain may be the most comprehensive guide to understanding the neuroscience and a realistic path to decreasing stress, cultivating peace, joy and resilience; and practicing presence with love. Sood has personally and professionally lived what he writes and teaches. It is our experience that in his presence one feels Dr. Sood’s genuine state of service. 

He clearly establishes that a quiet mind changes the brain in highly desirable ways. He has been careful to conduct and publish several scientific studies of applications with patients, health care professionals, and helping professionals. He has perfected his AIT intervention as a 90-minute resilience class for small groups. A six-month graduate course is offered by the Mayo Medical College. Sood does include a small component of 5 or 15 minute paced breathing meditations which are highly impactful and user friendly on I-Phones or I-Pads. This unusually abbreviated component was designed to overcome common concerns about the effort and time needed for meditation. Sood’s overall approach has been shown to improve well-being and health outcomes. At the present time, study is beginning to measure impact on mechanistic body processes. This cutting edge scientific understanding, grounded in spirituality and mental well-being, is producing highly promising applications which clearly warrant close attention. Beginning in 2014 Mayo Clinic officially offered this program and published The Mayo Clinic Guide to Stress-free Living  by Dr. Sood. 

Dr. Sood Describes the Common Human Experience of a Wondering or Busy Mind Leading to Stress and Health Problems

The Minds’ Influence on the Immune System

Krista Tippet's Speaking of Faith and On Being American Public Media podcasts with Dr. Esther Sternberg:

Also see:

The Importance of Gathering Data in Studying Mind-Body Interaction

This combined research foundation clearly warrants exploring principles for realizing health in new ways. Without question, communities, systems, and families must provide both environmental and individual supports to people of all ages. However, all too often the internal, individual capacity for natural resilience and well-being is overlooked.
Advancements in Resilience Research 

Dr. Ann Masten from the University of Minnesota accurately summarizes the four waves of resilience research to date.

Stories, Brain Change and Neuroeconomics

​Dr. Paul Zak, with a PhD in Economics, directs the Center for Neuroeconomics Studies at Claremont Graduate University and is a member of the Neurology Department at Loma Linda University Medical Center. He has studied brain imaging, and was the first to identify the role of oxytocin in mediating trusting behaviors between unacquainted humans.

Future of Story Telling


  • Watson, J. (2005). Caring Science as Sacred Science. Philadelphia: F. A. Davis .

See references pp. 147-237 including key reprinted journal articles, and 239-242. Jean Watson, PhD RN AHN-BC FAAN , is Founder/Director Watson Caring Science Institute and Distinguished Professor Emerita and Dean Emerita, University of Colorado Denver, College of Nursing Anschutz Medical Center. She is the leading expert in caring science.

Watson emphasizes, “the origin of philosophy and science is a search for both knowledge and wisdom that guide our life and our science. “ In this classic text for nurses, Watson includes her “personal experiences and rememberings  to ground some of the ideas and focus. … So, in some ways, writing about caring and science may not be tolerated in academic circles and scholarly works, but if there ever was a time to converge personal and professional authentic ethical efforts for living/being/doing/becoming scholarly and scientific, it is NOW.” (p. xi)

On-line she states, “While I have written books and hundreds of articles in referred journals on human caring…. It was only after a traumatic eye injury and uncanny golfing accident with my grandson . . . I get it. I had to learn to be still, to surrender to all, to let go, to learn to receive, to be open to unknown mystery and miracles – it was the mystic and metaphysical/spiritual practices and inner experiences that carried me through. . . . . I learned that all there is Love. We are all energy of LOVE. . . . I now have not only theory, knowledge, and a professional academic background, but more importantly, I have gained wisdom . . . and courage for sharing self and mystical spirituality of human caring and healing to help nurses, health professionals, educators, human service workers, and any others on their caring-healing journey.” 


  • Preventing Mental, Emotional, and Behavioral Disorders Among Young People: Progress and Possibilities. (2009). (M. O'Connell, T. Boat, and K. Warner, Eds.) Committee on the Prevention of Mental Disorders and Substance Abuse Among Children, Youth and Young Adults: Research Advances and Promising Interventions, Institute of Medicine (IOM) and National Research Council and Institute of Medicine. Washington, D. C.: The National Academies Press.

See scientific references pp. 392-497. This federally funded work is groundbreaking. IOM researchers were asked to reconsider their own 1994 definition of prevention and to publish new recommendations based on a thorough review of 15 additional years of published research. Among other things, they conclude, “At this time, research, and practice have evolved to support an approach to prevention that aims not only to prevent disorder, but also to promote positive mental, emotional, and behavioral health in young people.” (p. 69).

The 2009 IOM report strongly recommends our national priority must be the healthy mental, emotional and behavioral development of young people. The focus must be on well-being and healthy outcomes rather than prevention or management of illness or disorder. These scientists say emerging and promising community efforts are an important part of learning how to make this shift to promotion of mental health and healthy development of youth.

(Note: It is NRRC’s observation that professionals at all levels are only slowly adjusting to this monumental change in thinking. Some are clearly resistive. Few know how to promote mental health; the majority is most comfortable preventing and treating problems. The inside-out principle-based approach to mental health promotion is, in NRRC experience, promising and feasible.)

This 592 page book may be downloaded free from   
The book with additional material on CD’s is available from the publisher.


Resilience research is addressed above. These important sample works warrant careful attention.

  • Benard, B. (1991). Fostering resiliency in kids: Protective factors in the family, school, and community. Portland, OR: Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory.

  • Benard, B. (2004). Resiliency: What we have learned. Oakland, CA: West Ed.

  • Masten, A. (2001). Ordinary magic: Resilience processes in developmentAmerican Psychologist, 56(3), 1-12.

  • Masten, A. (2014). Ordinary magic: Resilience processes in development. New York: Guilford Press.

  • Masten, A. S, *Narayan, A. J., & Wright, M. O’D. (2023). Resilience processes in development: Multisystem integration emerging from four waves of research. In S. Goldstein & R. B. Brooks (Eds.), Handbook of resilience in children (3rd ed., pp.19-46). Springer Nature.

  • Werner, E. (2005). What can we learn about resilience from large-scale longitudinal studies? In S. Goldstein & R. Brooks (Eds.), Handbook of resilience in children (91-106). New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum.

  • Werner, E. & Smith, R., (2001). Journeys from childhood to midlife. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. 

  • Rutter, M. (1990). Psychosocial resilience and protective mechanisms. In D. Ciccetti, A. Masten, K. Neuchterlein, J. Rolf, & S. Weintraub (Eds.), Risk and protective factors in the development of psychopathology (pp.181-214). New York: Cambridge University Press.

Spirituality and Resilience

​Psychologist Dr. Joan Borysenko discusses spirituality and resilience personally and professionally. She is one of the few researchers and best selling authors who does so. With a Harvard doctorate in Medical Science and three post doctoral fellowships in cancer cell biology, behavioral medicine, and psychoneuroimmunology, she co-founded the Mind/Body Clinic with Dr. Herbert Benson and others and held various teaching positions. She and her spouse Gordon Dveirin, Ed.D. established The Claritas Institute for Interspiritual Inquiry.

Resilience Now

Dr. Sood's The Brain, Explains Conditions of Stress (Default) and Calm (Focused)

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