Explore This Treatment Program

Prior research has shown that adolescence and early adulthood is a time of elevated risk for developing mental health problems. The overall goal of the Resilience and Prevention Program is to develop and implement a variety of tools aimed at reducing this risk. In our clinic, an initial evaluation is comprised of two parts:

  1. A comprehensive assessment of an individual’s psychological strengths and areas of vulnerability, followed by
  2. Feedback and recommendations for steps to take that could potentially mitigate those vulnerabilities and augment strengths

One recommendation could be for a brief one-on-one or group-based training or course provided by the staff of our program (“resilience training”). In these trainings, we focus on teaching techniques that increase a sense of self-awareness, appreciation of the experiences of others, the ability to manage emotions, and well-being.

We are also conducting research focused on assessing how helpful this training is and on tools for identifying youth who are at risk for developing neuropsychiatric disorders.

Who We Serve

Our goal is to help adolescents and young adults who are interested in increasing their resilience, i.e., the ability to cope with stressful circumstances and navigate the ups and downs of their daily lives. They may be merely noticing that day-to-day life is more difficult than it used to be, or finding it harder to bounce back from stressful experiences. Some are doing well at the moment but are concerned about the potential effects of a risk factor for developing psychological difficulties in the future—factors such as having a close relative with a psychiatric illness or an early history of traumatic experiences or other types of adversity.

Is the Resilience and Prevention Program Right for You?

The Resilience and Prevention Program may be helpful if you answer "yes" to questions like these.

Do you:

  • Tend to blame yourself when something goes wrong?
  • Sometimes have trouble knowing what you are feeling?
  • Feel at times that you have to really push yourself to get things done?
  • Sometimes feel that you are very different from everyone else?
  • Ever wonder if you are “going crazy” in some way?
  • Sometimes feel like everyone is against you?

Would you:

  • Like to learn how to accept and grow from setbacks?
  • Like to develop a more non-judgmental way of viewing yourself and the world?
  • Benefit from treating yourself with more compassion?
  • Like to develop skills to become more effective in your interpersonal relationships?

Philosophy of the Resilience and Prevention Program

Our philosophy is based on the idea that it is important to maintain one’s mental health, just as it is important to maintain one’s physical health by exercising and eating right. Research has shown that even when things are going relatively well, spending the time to learn and practice effective strategies for coping with stress can prevent the development of mental health problems down the road.

People appear to be less susceptible to the effects of stress after they have learned specific techniques for enhancing their psychological well-being, including ways to maintain and grow the psychological strengths they already have.

Programs at Mass General

Outpatient Consultation and Recommendations

Our outpatient program works with young people between the ages of 10 and 30 who may be at risk for psychiatric disorders based on:

  • A family history of serious mental illness

  • The presence of current low-level symptoms that may or may not represent early signs of a mental illness (such as mild depression or anxiety, unusual ideas, perceptual or cognitive changes)

We provide a two-session evaluation conducted by a psychiatrist or psychologist.

  • Session one: A psychological assessment using validated research measures (questionnaires) and a one-hour evaluation by an experienced clinician
  • Session two: Feedback and recommendations, which may include referral to a short course of individual resilience training and/or additional assessments

Resilience Training

Strengths-based resilience training is comprised of 3-12 one-on-one sessions with a clinician focused on developing better coping skills for managing stress and relationships. The training includes exposure to and in-session practice of techniques derived from a range of established, evidence-based therapies (see below). The program is tailored to meet the needs of each person based on an initial assessment of areas of strengths and vulnerability.

This training may include elements of these evidence-based therapeutic approaches and techniques:

  • Mindfulness
  • Self-compassion
  • Mentalization (understanding your own and others' mental states)
  • Emotion identification and regulation strategies
  • Stress management
  • Positive psychology

Community Programs

Resilience Training on the College Campus

This research study focuses on developing an early detection and prevention program for college students who are at some risk for developing psychiatric illnesses. First, students are screened for the presence of low-level, subthreshold symptoms of these illnesses (which are associated with some degree of increased risk for mental health problems, depending on their type and severity). Students with such symptoms are then invited to participate in a four-session program conducted in groups of 8-12 students.

The goal of this research is to test and validate a program that can be used in a variety of higher education settings to identify and monitor at-risk college students and potentially prevent the development of serious mental illness or intervene as early as possible if such an illness arises.

The Skills for Success Program: Resilience-building for At-risk Adolescents

The Skills for Success Program is a collaboration between the Department of Pediatrics at the MGH Chelsea HealthCare Center, the Resilience and Prevention Program and the Center of Excellence for Psychosocial and Systemic Research at Mass General. It is an early detection and prevention program for middle-school aged children. Those who are potentially at-risk for the development of mental health problems are identified at their annual check-up with their pediatrician. If a child appears to be at some risk based on the results of a validated screening questionnaire, that child’s parents are invited to enroll their child in an 8-session group-based resilience training program, plus three parent/caregiver sessions.

This program focuses on teaching emotion identification and regulation skills, and self-compassion techniques.

Additional Staff

Baktash Babadi, MD, PhD, Psychiatrist
Drew Coman, PhD, Clinical Psychologist
Jacqueline Clauss MD, PhD, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Fellow
Lauren Luther, PhD, Clinical and Research Fellow
Nicole DeTore, PhD, Clinical Psychologist and Director of Research, Resilience and Prevention Program
Leah Namey, MPH, Senior Program Manager