The development of a patient-centered program based on the relaxation response: the Relaxation Response Resiliency Program (3RP)

Psychosomatics. 2013 Mar-Apr;54(2):165-74. doi: 10.1016/j.psym.2012.09.001. Epub 2013 Jan 22.


Background: Chronic daily stress has significant physical, emotional, and financial implications; levels of stress are increasing in the US. Dr. Benson highlighted how the mind and body function together in one's experience of the stress response and proposed the existence of the relaxation response (RR).

Objective: The current paper describes the foundation and development of an 8-session multimodal treatment program for coping with chronic stress: the Relaxation Response Resiliency Program (3RP).

Methods: We review the past decades of RR research, outline the development of the 3RP treatment, and provide an overview of the program's theory and content.

Results: Extensive research and clinical work have examined how eliciting the RR may combat stress through down-regulation of the sympathetic nervous system. Related to this work are the multidimensional constructs of resiliency and allostatic load. The 3RP is based on principles from the fields of stress management, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and positive psychology, and has three core target areas: (1) elicitation of the RR; (2) stress appraisal and coping; and (3) growth enhancement. An 8-week patient-centered treatment program has been developed, with the purpose of assisting patients with a variety of psychological and medical issues to better cope with chronic stress.

Conclusions: Mastery of the RR is theorized to maximize one's ability to benefit from multimodal mind body strategies. The goal of the 3RP is to enhance individuals' adaptive responses to chronic stress through increasing awareness and decreasing the physiological, emotional, cognitive, and behavioral effects of the stress response, while simultaneously promoting the effects of being in the RR.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Allostasis
  • Chronic Disease
  • Combined Modality Therapy / methods
  • Humans
  • Mind-Body Therapies / methods*
  • Mindfulness
  • Patient-Centered Care*
  • Program Development*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Relaxation / physiology*
  • Relaxation / psychology
  • Resilience, Psychological
  • Self Care / methods
  • Stress, Psychological / physiopathology
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology
  • Stress, Psychological / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • United States