Programs and Services
"I would enthusiastically recommend this program for any teacher or administrator who has experienced stress or frustration. These strategies will have an immediate positive impact in both their personal and professional lives." Vice Principal,
Boston Elementary School
Controlled studies conducted by the Education Initiative demonstrate that students who were exposed to our relaxation response-based curriculum experienced:

A higher grade point average
Increased self-esteem
Decreased psychological distress
Less aggressive behavior
Better work habits
Better attendance
Decreased unexcused tardiness

Examples of research:

The Evaluation of a Mind/Body Intervention to Reduce Psychological Distress and Perceived Stress in College Students Deckro G., Ballinger K., Hoyt M., Wilcher M., Dusek J., Myers P., Greenberg B., Rosenthal D., Benson H., Journal of American College Health, Vol. 50, No. 6, May 2002.

The authors examined the effect of a 6-week mind/body intervention on college students' psychological distress, anxiety, and perception of stress. One hundred twenty-eight students were randomly assigned to an experimental group (n=63) or a waitlist control group (n=65). The experimental group received six (6) 90-minute group-training sessions in the relaxation response and cognitive behavioral skills. The Symptom Checklist-90-Revised, Spielberger State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, and the Perceived Stress Scale were used to assess the students' psychological state before and after the intervention. Ninety students (70% of the original sample) completed the postassessment measure. Significantly greater reductions in psychological distress, state anxiety, and perceived stress were found in the experimental group. This brief mind/body training may be useful as a preventive intervention for college students. The authors called for further research to determine whether the observed treatment effect can be sustained over a longer period of time.

Academic Performance Among Middle School Students After Exposure to a Relaxation Response Curriculum Benson H., Wilcher M., Greenberg B., Huggins E., Ennis M., Zuttermeister P.C., Myers P., Friedman R., Journal of Research and Development in Education, Vol. 33: No. 3, Spring 2000.

The relationship between exposure to a relaxation response curriculum and academic achievement was examined among middle school students. Teachers were trained in how to teach relaxation response exercises and self-care strategies to their students. In addition, trainers modeled for teachers how to teach relaxation and self-care strategies to the students in the classroom. Four measures of academic outcomes were analyzed: grade point average, work habits, cooperation, and attendance. Students who had more that two exposures to semester long classes in which teachers had been trained in the relaxation response curriculum had higher grade point averages, work habits scores and cooperation scores than students who have two or fewer exposures. In addition, students who had more exposures to the relaxation response curriculum showed an improvement in academic scores over the course of a two-year period.

Increases in Positive Psychological Characteristics with a New Relaxation-Response Curriculum in High School Students Benson H., Kornhaber A., Kornhaber C., LeChanu M., Zuttermeister P., Myers P., Friedman R., Journal of Research and Development in Education - Vol. 27, No. 4, Summer 1994.

Self esteem and locus of control were evaluated in a group of high school students prior to, during, and following a single academic year. Using a randomized, crossover experimental design, students were exposed to either a health curriculum based on elicitation of the relaxation response and then a follow-up period, or to a control health curriculum and then the relaxation-response based curriculum. Exposure to the relaxation-response curriculum, but not the control curriculum, resulted in significant increases in self-esteem and a tendency toward greater internal locus of control scores. Furthermore, teacher observations indicated a high degree of student acceptance of relaxation-response training. These results suggest that incorporation of the relaxation response into high school curricula may be a practical and efficient way to increase positive psychological attitudes.

Submitted for publication:

The Effect of a Relaxation Response Curriculum on Learning and Memory Performance in High School Students Gloria R. Deckro, Mieke Verfaellie, Nancy Martin, Herbert Benson, Marilyn Wilcher, Jeffery A. Dusek

The study was a prospective clinical trial with a waitlist control. Seven ninth grade biology classes were designated to either the experimental or the control condition. Experimental group classes received stress reduction and relaxation training and listened to a ten-minute relaxation exercise three times a week over a six-week period. Control classes received their normal biology classes during the six weeks then were given the same relaxation curriculum. Saliva cortisol assays and a battery of cognitive tests were administered at baseline (T1), following training of the experimental group (T2), and following training of the waitlist control group (T3).

More Information
For more information or to request a copy of published research, contact Jeffrey Dusek at 617.991.0102 x212
or email jdusek@mbmi.org
Herbert Benson, MD President,
Mind Body Medical Institute and
Mind Body Medical Institute Associate Professor of Medicine,
Harvard Medical School.