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Research Briefs: Building resilience

Kevin Nourse, PhD,
March 12, 2021

With roots in the positive psychology movement, resilience has quickly emerged in the past 20 years as an important quality and skill for helping adults thrive in their lives and professions. While a number of books and articles have been written about resilience-building strategies in the past ten years, relatively few of these sources are grounded in empirical research or explain how a strategy impacts the human nervous system.

To address this gap, two researchers recently published an article that identifies a useful framework for making sense of resilience-building strategies as well as perspectives on critical factors associated with coaching for resilience (Tabibnia & Radecki, 2018). This framework is based on empirical research anchored in neuroscience and brain plasticity. The two primary pathways they identified include: 

  • Behavioral strategies including stress reduction, physical well-being, and social connection. 
  • Cognitive strategies designed to regulate emotions, manage biased thinking and enhance mindfulness. 

In addition, the researchers noted the importance of certain attitudinal factors, such as a growth mindset.

Overall, the article identifies 15 potential ways to enhance one’s resilience and links each to the specific aspect of the nervous system impacted. 

The value of this comprehensive literature review from the past 15 years is substantial for both theory and practice. It presents a useful summary and categorization of the literature to identify research opportunities to enhance our collective knowledge of this topic, as well as providing evidence-based strategies for helping people thrive in their lives and work.


Tabibnia, G. and Radecki, D. (2018). “Resilience training that can change the brain,” Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research, Vol. 70 No. 1, pp. 59-88.

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Dr. Kevin Nourse has more than 25 years of experience developing transformational change leaders in healthcare and other sectors. He is the founder of Nourse Leadership Strategies, a coaching and leadership development firm based in Southern California. For more information, contact Kevin at 310.715.8315 or kevin@nourseleadership.com

(c) 2020 Kevin Nourse

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