Research
Finding the best ways to prevent and treat psychological health problems in military service members, veterans, and first responders

REACT: Resilience Enhancement through Acceptance and Commitment Training

Alan L. Peterson, PhD, ABPP (Lt Col, US Air Force, Ret.)

Develop and test a brief psychological intervention to enhance resilience and optimize readiness in U.S. military personnel.

Although resiliency is a recognized need for maintaining psychological health and readiness of military personnel, few studies have validated the existing resiliency enhancement programs utilized by the U.S. military.

 To address this need, a STRONG STAR team led by Alan Peterson, PhD (USAF Lt Col, Ret.), will work with the U.S. Army’s 3rd Security Force Assistance Brigade (3rd SFAB) at Fort Hood, Texas, to develop a resiliency-enhancing program. Members of 3rd SFAB train for deployment to serve as advisors to bolster the defenses of allied nations around the world.

Strengthening the Ability to Endure Distress

The program, Resilience Enhancement through Acceptance and Commitment Training (REACT), will work with the 3rd SFAB to provide a brief psychological intervention to enhance resilience and optimize readiness. REACT will be based on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, an evidence-based intervention that has demonstrated a proven track record of improving performance and functioning across a range of conditions, including those involving intense physical and emotional distress.

Development of REACT will take place in three phases.

Phase 1: Army leadership and civilian experts will collaborate to develop a practical and scientifically valid resiliency program that is informed by military leadership and civilian experts.

Phase 2: The STRONG STAR team will pilot and validate the program with members of the 3rd SFAB. Lessons learned from this phase will be used to modify the program to maximize resiliency training.

Phase 3: The STRONG STAR team will examine the final resiliency program as part of a randomized clinical trial involving 600 participants. Large groups of military personnel will be assigned to participate in the REACT resiliency training program as compared to the U.S. Army’s Master Resiliency Training program. The research team will assess all soldiers prior to and following deployment.

Expected Benefits 

Dr. Peterson’s team expects to see SFAB members who participate in the resiliency program demonstrating higher levels of psychological resilience and readiness than those who do not undergo the program. Such a finding could lead to further use of the program throughout the Department of Defense, enhancing resilience and optimizing readiness among each service component. Findings also could have applications for those designing or improving training programs for first responders and other civilians in highly stressful occupations.