To ensure that we stay ahead of the curve, we routinely send a member of our leadership team to the world’s best psychology universities to learn about the profession’s latest research and advancements. Currently, one such member is obtaining a master’s degree at Harvard University, where they are learning from the world’s leading experts about the following topics:

1. The Human Brain in Extreme Environments

Research about what happens to the human brain and behaviour when we are exposed to isolated, confined, and extreme environments. Extreme environments include spaceflight; high altitude flights or mountaineering; submersed or underwater activities; and polar, desert, or jungle exploration.

This research covers the effects of extreme environmental exposures on major physiologic systems and the resulting neurophysiologic and neurobehavioral performance and (re)adaptation. These topics are augmented by contemporary findings from research studies conducted in operational environments and discussed in the context of history, experimental methods, and research paradigms used in extreme environmental physiology and translational neuroscience. It also includes current studies emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic in the context of transition from every day to a new normal extreme environment, including physiologic, behavioural, and social adaptations. Theoretical concepts and research findings are evaluated relative to their utility in developing functional countermeasures for extreme human habitation as well as methods for clinical treatment of related medical conditions in the general population. Lessons feature expert guest lecturers (NASA astronauts and researchers, Antarctic expeditionary physicians, and underwater explorers) and demonstrations of unique experimental methodologies and equipment used in isolated, confined, and extreme environments.

Additional Research Conducted: Mental Performance Techniques in Extreme Environments and Their Translations to Elite Sports

Extreme environments are external contexts that expose individuals to demanding physical and psychological conditions that profoundly affect cognitive and behavioural performance. Such environments include military combat situations, Olympic-level competitions, polar expeditions, submarine voyages, and space travel. With the difficulties inherent in extreme environments, achieving “optimal performance” – the extent to which someone achieves a desired outcome when completing goal-oriented tasks – becomes more challenging. Coping mechanisms, in turn, play a crucial role in helping those people complete those tasks – and thereby achieve optimal performance – by managing stress, adapting to challenging situations, and maintaining emotional well-being. Mental performance techniques have been studied extensively in various contexts, but this paper is particularly interested in their application to extreme environments and elite sports. Therefore, this paper delves into the psychological adaptation and coping mechanisms utilized by individuals and teams facing the extraordinary demands of extreme environments and those striving for peak performance in elite sports.

2. Psychological Resilience

The ever-developing field of resilience research, including an examination of evidence-based cognitive, emotional, interpersonal, and self-care skills that have been demonstrated to reduce risk of major psychological disorders, such as major depression, PTSD, and anxiety disorders, in the face of adversity. Subtopics include:

  • Understanding different types of resilience and the roots of resilience research
  • Studying and applying the leading types of methods of measuring resilience
  • Biological aspects of resilience, including responses to stress, and the mitigation effects of protective factors such as positive emotions, social support, and self-efficacy
  • The individual differences in resilience, including genetic contributions, personality contributions, gender differences, and how early life events affect individual resilience
  • How people can develop a personalised set of evidence-based skills that can be applied to strengthen positive response to adversity

3. The Science of Motivation

Motivation is an internal process that drives behaviour. Understanding motivation is essential for effecting change in ourselves and in others. This research is a comprehensive exploration of motivation as an internal driving force shaping behaviour through the lens of conducted research. The intricate theories and empirical findings illuminate the foundations of motivation, helping us understand its pivotal role in instigating change at both individual and collective levels. This research delves into the nuanced interplay of motivational factors and provides insights applicable to diverse contexts, ranging from optimizing workplace productivity and fostering enriched learning environments to instigating personal habit transformations.

Participants not only also develop practical insights into its application. By synthesizing theoretical knowledge with empirical research outcomes, individuals gain the ability to discern and address motivation-related challenges in various domains. This research goes beyond a traditional approach, emphasizing the practical implications of motivational theories and the use of Motivational Interviewing techniques.

As a result of this research initiative, participants cultivate a nuanced comprehension of motivation in both theory and practice. They emerge equipped with the skills to analyse and interpret their own motivations and those of others, facilitating a deeper understanding of behavioural dynamics. The outcomes of this research provide valuable insights for enhancing personal and collective effectiveness, whether in the workplace, educational settings, or personal development. The conducted research not only enriches theoretical knowledge but also empowers individuals to apply their insights actively, contributing to the ongoing discourse on motivation and its multifaceted impacts.