Career Cycle

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Building mental resilience is similar to building one’s own physical fitness. There are some universal skills that will assist in building fitness and others that are more specific to the activity you are seeking to perform. For example, training for an endurance sport, like a marathon, requires different skills than a sprint triathlon. In other words, for each training activity you may need to specifically tailor your workouts to meet the demands of the activity. However, in all cases, in order to maintain fitness, the skills must be practiced.

Along these lines there are some foundational mental health concepts that are universal and can be applied and adapted to various types of situations; while others are more specifically designed to be used in highly stressful situations. Also, like in sports, even after training with a perfect regime there is still always a risk of injury. This doesn’t diminish the value of training but rather highlights that even for someone who does all the right training there is no absolute protection for health. Nonetheless, the training often promotes faster healing after an injury. Such is also the case with resilience training.

The Institutionalization of Resilience

As R2MR Career Cycle Training is delivered and tailored to the appropriate level of training, training begins at the recruit level and continues to build upon the concepts as one’s career continues throughout the forces and they take on further leadership responsibilities. In addition, more specialized and tailored information is provided before and after deployment. This graph (figure 1) demonstrates how this training is interconnected and delivered throughout the career span. It highlights several times throughout an average military member’s career where they will encounter training that applies to the phase at which they need to apply these skills.

The Institutionalization of Resilience. Description Follows.

Figure 1. This graph demonstrates how this training is interconnected and delivered throughout the career span.

The Institutionalization of Resilience (Figure 1): Text-Only

Career Span

  1. Recruitment
  2. Basic / Leadership Course
  3. Professional Development / Unit Training
  4. Pre and Post Deployment
  5. Professional Development / Unit Training
  6. Leadership Course
  7. Professional Development / Unit Training
  8. Pre and Post Deployment
  9. Professional Development / Unit Training
  10. Leadership Course
  11. Professional Development / Unit Training
  12. Pre and Post Deployment
  13. Professional Development / Unit Training
  14. Leadership Course
  15. Professional Development / Unit Training
  16. Retirement




* Command Team Course

Deployment Specific:

  • Phase 1&2: Military Pre-Deployment Training
  • Phase 3: Family Pre-Deployment Training
  • Phase 4: Third Location Decompression
  • Phase 5: Family Home Location Decompression
  • Phase 6: Military & Family Post-Deployment Follow-up


This building block approach of key messages includes:

1. Basic Military Training

Resiliency training focused on training basic resilience skills to assist in managing the stress of basic training and to sustain mental fitness throughout their CAF career (Goal setting, Self Talk, Visualization, Arousal control, Acceptance); teaches basic mental health concepts, Mental Health Continuum Model (MHCM), warning signs and buddy aid.

The building blocks introduced at the Basic Training level, whether you are a commission or non-commissioned member, are meant to build a strong foundation in mental health and resilience. The curriculum is evidence based and skills focused to provide new members with applications they can put into practice to develop and maintain their well-being. It strives to balance education with a health focus while developing education that assists with understanding mental illness to reduce barriers to care and encourage early access to care should it be required.

Key concepts at this level of training include:

2. Primary Leadership Training

Resiliency training focused on mentoring and coaching resilience skills in subordinates (Goal setting, Self Talk, Visualization, Arousal control); application of mental health concepts to leadership and caring for subordinates (warning signs, AIR, mental health resources, leader actions in each phase of the MHCM).

Primary leadership training takes the strong foundation of promoting and maintaining resilience in oneself and now applies this information to the leadership role. The additional responsibility as leaders now means that training needs to no only enhance ones’ own well-being, but also the maintenance of health in ones’ subordinates. Core concepts are taught more in depth in a way that reflects the leadership responsibility and additional building blocks are added, namely leader actions along the Mental Health Continuum (shield, sense and support).

Key concepts at this level of training include:

3. Advanced Leadership Training

Resiliency training focused on institutionalization of skills into CAF training system (Goal setting, Self Talk, Visualization, Arousal Control); application of mental health concepts to senior leadership (warning signs, AIR, mental health resources, leader action in each phase of the MHCM).

In advanced leadership training the focus is now on inculcating resilience and mental health training into the wider CAF training system and operations planning, as well as setting the appropriate command climate that positively shapes unit culture to promote resilience and reduces barriers to care. Training at this level is adapted to fit with the current models in use by the Canadian Defence Academy. The building blocks at this level are further developed to provide Senior Leaders with the appropriate tools and the additional concept of Stress Exposure Training (SET).1

Key concepts at this level of training include:

1 Driskell, James E., & Johnston, Joan H. (1998). Stress Exposure Training. In J.A. Cannon-Bowers, & E. Salas (Eds), Making decisions under stress: Implications for Individual and Team training (pp 191-217). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

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