Single Paper or Case Study

Ace & Resilience Response Among Elite College Athletes: preliminary Outcomes of the Changing Minds, Changing Lives Intervention

Saturday, March 24
11:05 AM - 11:25 AM
Location: Logan

Elevated rates of exposure to Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) and young adult onset of health compromises have been found among urban, African-American males, a group dramatically over-represented among elite college athletes.  But little research has been done examining the effects of early-life household- and community-based adversity on young adult resilience. The present study uses a mixed methods design to evaluate a resilience-fostering intervention during the transition to college. The Changing Minds, Changing Lives (CMCL) program, a strengths-based, resilience-focused academic course including stress and resilience information, mindfulness practice, cognitive skills training, reflective writing and structured feedback, was offered to a cohort of student-athletes (N=16; 100% male; 88% Black). Changes in resilience, adaptive response to stress, self-regulation, cognitive flexibility, and pro-social identity development were measured. Quantitative findings showed positive trends in most experimental parameters. Qualitative findings indicated significant changes in emotional awareness, expression and regulation; social cohesion; academic engagement; and leadership. Most notably, increments of measurable change were positively correlated with rates of exposure to childhood adversity. The CMCL program shows promise as an adaptive, resilience-fostering, wellness-based intervention for diverse young adult populations. Implications for future research and implementation of trauma-informed, resilience-focused psychological wellness programming for diverse young adults are discussed.

Learning Objectives:

Jim Helling

Clinical Director, Athletic Counseling Office
University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Amherst, Massachusetts

Jim Helling, LICSW directs the Athletic Counseling Office of the University of Massachusetts Center for Counseling & Psychological Health where he leads an effort to bring trauma-informed care, resilience-based culture and social equity to college mental health programs serving NCAA student-athletes. He introduced the first universal ACE screening program at an NCAA Division I institution as part of the pre-participation sports physical exam process. He is deeply engaged in efforts to develop culturally resonant, trauma-informed, resilience focused non-clinical programs to promote psychological health and growth among underserved college students, particularly Black NCAA athletes. He is certified in Clinical Hypnosis, EMDR and Sensorimotor Psychotherapy and maintains a private practice for the adult treatment of complex trauma and dissociative disorders based on Structural Dissociation Theory in Amherst, MA.


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Genevieve Chandler

Associate Professor
University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Amherst, Massachusetts

Genevieve Chandler, RN, PhD is an Associate Professor of Nursing who has a wealth of experience conducting resilience research with vulnerable adolescents and young adults from successfully employing a structured writing approach to increase self-esteem and self- efficacy to being a pioneer in recognizing the unique response of vulnerable adolescents to use protective behaviors that were heretofore interpreted as risk behaviors to promote their resilience. Her recent work testing the innovatiove Empower Resilience Intervention for young adults in higher education, community college and athletics fits with her expertise as a mental health clinical nurse specialist with a deep understanding and experience of developing engaged relationships.


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Ace & Resilience Response Among Elite College Athletes: preliminary Outcomes of the Changing Minds, Changing Lives Intervention

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