Psychological Resilience Class Feedback (Part One)


Last month Harvard Extension School offered Psychological Resilience Class PSYC-E-1018 led by Dr. Shelley Carson. Here is feedback provided about the class and the importance of this topic from several students:

“From the cradle to the grave, humans have to face problematic situations. In one way or another, we are exposed to danger, confusion, disappointment or grief. However, there is something that changes over time, especially when it comes to the ability to cope with serious, more complex issues. In the hindsight, one can realize how one’s capacity to overcome both minor and major problems increases. I remember having thought about the following question long before taking the resilience course: How come I don’t see the problems the same way I did three years ago?

A noteworthy lesson I learned is that it’s never too late to start something great, regardless of how ambitious your plan may seem at first. Shelley Carson, our professor, told us in a very humble manner that her interest in psychology had come pretty late, in her late thirties or forties. Having a living example of a remarkable case of a successful recommencement imbued the class with a spirit of optimism. A major contribution to the surprising participation of the group was the intimacy we developed by sharing personal experiences.

I’m sure there was a considerable share of students sitting there whose major interest wasn’t necessarily psychology, as it was in my case. However, we talked about commonplace things that awakened interest in all of us, each in a different war. That is definitely the most valuable thing a professor can do. I think that Shelley knew that intrinsically motivated students are more likely to make the most out of any course, so she put all her efforts in making her class interesting, by telling personal, yet very relevant anecdotes, and inviting students to participate in class. One thing I will never forget is how she pushed us to use the “resilience kit” we had been studying, which included several methods to cope with problems.

Most importantly, however, I learned that personal experience is far more worth in terms of resilience than any research that might be done by well-known psychologists anywhere in the world. In other words, understanding what the physiological responses to problems are represents a relatively easy task –as well as understanding the most efficient resilience methods–, but the real challenge is that of self-discovery, which requires a very introspective approach to problems and a lot of experience. I discovered, for instance, that I am very skillful at coping with problems by means of humor, and that I can easily clear my mind by doing exercise. Not only is it important to identify such skills, but also to become aware of their potential in problem-solving. That’s something no one can do for you, so I cordially invite you to start (or continue, if you already started) asking yourself these questions and getting to know yourself better.

In conclusion, I think that the most precious lessons we learn come unexpectedly, so I don’t think that a classroom is the only place where you can learn something useful. However, finding an excellent professor is certainly no easy thing to do and I am grateful –I also learned and have started realizing that gratefulness is a very effective resilience method– for the enriching experience of taking this course. I’m all the more grateful to Marina for allowing me to share my thoughts about it, for expressing one’s ideas is also a very satisfactory experience”.

Fernando de Testa – Mexico

“Dr. Shelley Carson’s Psychological Resilience class @ Harvard Extension School provides students with an in-depth look at the construct itself as well as the psychological tools associated with resilience. I took the course as part of my major in psych and hoped to have a “value added” experience that would broaden my understanding of resilient individuals while gaining a deeper understanding of the difficulties that they’d faced. This course provided that. Dr Carson, Jeff Perrotti, & Ellen Brodsky collectively created a learning environment that was as acutely informative as it was warm and welcoming. By definition, January session classes are fast-paced and mentally burdensome due to the amount of material presented in a 3 week period. Although the material came and went quickly, I never felt overwhelmed as the support and presentation methods made the course enjoyable, while enhancing retention through dynamic class exercises and open discussion.

I took from this course a skill set that enables me to better understand and cope with potentially traumatic and stressful situations, both within myself and others. I look forward to taking Abnormal Psychology and Creativity with Dr Carson in the future, both of which are offered in the fall semester here at Harvard Extension School”.

Christopher Dumas – US

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