As a parent, expose your child to moderate stressors: encourage your child to try out for the soccer team, or audition for that part in the play they have their eye on, and encourage them to talk to you about their feelings as they go through the process. Even if it doesn’t work out the way they envisioned, they will continue to develop the confidence to go after what interests them and learn how to always put their best foot forward.


Resilience has been described as the ability to withstand adversity and bounce back from difficult life events. Times are not easy now. How do we develop greater resilience to withstand the challenges that keep being thrown at us? In this interview series, we are talking to mental health experts, authors, resilience experts, coaches, and business leaders who can talk about how we can develop greater resilience to improve our lives.

As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Renee Schneider.

Dr. Renee Schneider is a Vice President and the Head of Therapy at Brightline, a start-up providing evidence-based care to children, teens, and families. She is the former Vice President of Clinical Quality with Lyra Health and a licensed Clinical Psychologist. As a clinician and researcher, much of her work has focused on improving our understanding of relations between the socialization of emotions and the development of internalizing and externalizing problems in children.


Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your backstory?

When I was younger, I spent a summer working with people who had severe mental illness as a case manager for a California county, which led to my interest in clinical psychology. At UCLA, I became very interested in research and wanted to develop a better understanding of the etiology of disorders like depression and anxiety, so I began working with children. I also developed an interest in the dissemination of effective treatments for these conditions in order to provide relief for the millions of people who suffer from mental health problems.

In addition, I’m very open about the fact that I have two children, one of whom has autism.

Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?

I think that many therapists who are newer to the field or less experienced in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) believe that to be a good cognitive-behavioral therapist, you need to forego any sort of emotional attachment to your client and you can never talk about past events in the client’s life. These ideas couldn’t be further from the truth, and I learned this the hard way.

In my graduate program, we started seeing clients in week three of our first year. My first client was a lovely middle-aged woman with significant anxiety and depression who was adamant she wanted to work on her past relationships with family. Rather than try to understand her experience and meet her where she was at, I ignored the therapeutic relationship and dove right into a focus on her present problems and functioning. She dropped out of treatment after a couple of weeks.

From then on, I became much more focused on developing emotionally meaningful relationships with clients while delivering high quality CBT and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), another Evidence-Based Treatment (EBT). The experience with my former client helped me better understand how to become more flexible in my approach to working with clients and to really value what they chose to share with me.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

There are so many things that stand out to me about working with Brightline, specifically the reliance on evidence-based interventions, the availability of coaches and therapists for children, teens, and parents, and the use of measurement-based care with youth. One aspect of our care that I believe is fundamental to who we are is that we involve parents from the start and throughout treatment. We meet regularly with parents, talk with them by phone, coordinate care on their behalf with a school or pediatrician, and share data with them on how their child or teen is progressing in treatment. At Brightline, we view parents as the primary experts on their child and treat our relationship with them as a true partnership. We make sure they’re aware of the skills that we’re teaching their children so that they’re in the know and can make positive changes s at home.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

I am incredibly grateful to Dr. Alan Fruzzetti. He’s a leading DBT clinician and researcher, and I have learned so much from talking with him over the years. Perhaps most importantly, he is one of the most genuine people I know and he brings this to his work with clients. If he’s tired and a client says you look tired, he’s apt to say: “You know I didn’t sleep great last night.” He doesn’t have a therapy ‘hat’ he puts on. He’s just himself whether he’s with clients or family and friends, and in being himself, he demonstrates an acceptance of others for who they are, too. His genuineness sends a message to clients that he values them and doesn’t fear them or see them as some “other” from whom he has to hide his true self.

I’ve aimed to replicate that same model in my own practice and demonstrate that I am still ‘me’ when I provide service and care to my clients, and it’s my hope that this sends a message that they are valued for exactly who they are.

Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. We would like to explore and flesh out the trait of resilience. How would you define resilience? What do you believe are the characteristics or traits of resilient people?

For me, resilience is the ability to bounce back from adversity. There is likely a genetic component to resilience and a part that is learned, and of course, biology affects how we interact with the environment and vice versa. We know that some people, from birth, have stronger reactions to environmental stimuli and this characteristic might make it more difficult for them to bounce back from stressors. That said, we also know that people can learn to be more resilient. Parents can teach their children resilience by exposing them to small to moderate challenges and providing them with the scaffolding they need to overcome them.

That said, it’s important to acknowledge that it’s much harder to be resilient when facing chronic, significant stressors, as many families are right now.

Courage is often likened to resilience. In your opinion how is courage both similar and different to resilience?

It takes courage to bounce back, but courage alone is not enough. Plenty of courageous people have succumbed to depression or have their own mental health challenges to contend with. People who are resilient are lucky enough that they can see the silver lining and they don’t gravitate towards the negative the way others naturally do. A lot of that has to do with experience. If you lived in a war-torn country or crime-ridden neighborhood and had to constantly be on alert for attack, it’s smarter to be focusing on the negative and what might hurt you. Someone in that situation doesn’t have the luxury or the privilege of focusing on the positive.

I like to think of resilience as a skill that can be learned and practiced just like anything else, and if you feel you struggle with resilience sometimes, try to keep in mind that it’s something that you can improve and continue to shape over time.

When you think of resilience, which person comes to mind? Can you explain why you chose that person?

My 10-year-old daughter astounds me because she is incredibly resilient. Her life is pretty challenging, as her older brother has autism. He’s minimally verbal, not toilet trained, has few adaptive living skills, and is awake and loud until around 2 AM most nights. Occasionally, he will get in her face and just growl at her, and he will also sneak into her room and break her toys. But, she bounces back every time. She cries and gets upset, but it’s short-lived. We talk with her about how she feels and she’ll tell us she is sad or angry or wishes her brother didn’t have autism, but then she will go and distract herself with a toy or by reading a book. When she’s really upset with her brother, she plays a little music box that calms her down.

I chose my daughter because as much as I wish I could take credit for her resilience, this is just who she is. She is happy and loves her family (even her brother), her friends, and her school community, even though there are so many restrictions on our family because of her brother’s needs. She gets so much less alone time with me than she should, but my daughter uses the time to herself to read or play. She doesn’t ever seem to get stuck in feelings of resentment, much as I feel she has earned them. I try to continue to nurture her ability to vocalize and manage her emotions in a healthy way.

Has there ever been a time that someone told you something was impossible, but you did it anyway? Can you share the story with us?

I was always a good student, but no one thought I could make it to UCLA due to my family’s financial problems. I decided that’s where I wanted to go to college, though. I earned scholarships and did work study, and I graduated summa cum laude with a BS in psychology.

Of course, I cannot share specific stories about the clients I work with — but as a DBT therapist, it’s very rewarding for me to see improvements in the quality of my clients’ lives who have struggled with a significant history of trauma or other psychological pain.

Did you have a time in your life where you had one of your greatest setbacks, but you bounced back from it stronger than ever? Can you share that story with us?

It was a huge challenge for my family when my son was diagnosed with autism at 15 months, and I knew that this wasn’t really a situation that we’d “bounce back” from as much as something we’d have to continue to work through for the rest of our lives.

As any parent of a child with autism will tell you, it’s certainly not always an easy situation, but it can still be rewarding in so many different ways. I have become friends with other parents who have a child on the spectrum, and I’m so thankful to have a ‘village’ that understands what I’m going through with my son and is able to provide amazing support during the tough times. Having a child with special needs, I have become more open and empathetic and hope to always pay that forward to other families who need help.

How have you cultivated resilience throughout your life? Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Can you share a story?

My family experienced a lot of financial hardship growing up, so food and housing insecurity was a pretty central part of my developmental years. Fortunately, I was a strong student and could leverage that to build my resilience and get my career started.

Now in my practice, I’ve found that validating clients’ emotions, whatever they are, rather than fearing them or avoiding them, can help build resiliency in others.

Resilience is like a muscle that can be strengthened. In your opinion, what are 5 steps that someone can take to become more resilient? Please share a story or an example for each.

As a parent, expose your child to moderate stressors: encourage your child to try out for the soccer team, or audition for that part in the play they have their eye on, and encourage them to talk to you about their feelings as they go through the process. Even if it doesn’t work out the way they envisioned, they will continue to develop the confidence to go after what interests them and learn how to always put their best foot forward.

Comfort in discomfort: As parents, it is so painful to see your child hurting. Often, our first instinct is to say, “Don’t be sad” or to push the negative emotion away. Instead, if we want our children to be resilient, we need to validate how they’re feeling. “Of course, you are feeling sad right now. Your brother just broke your toy.”

Be your own #1 fan: I’ve noticed a huge positive impact for my clients when they begin to celebrate the wins in their lives, whether large or small — success leads to more success! Self-validation is key to being resilient.

Build Your Support Network: No one, no matter how strong they are, can work through all of life’s challenges on their own. Whether you speak with a licensed therapist or just give your best friend a call after a tough day at work, surrounding yourself with the right people will help you realize your strength even when you’re feeling low.

Fill Your Own Cup First: Make sure to prioritize your self-care routines as part of an overall sense of wellness, and also to have reserves and routines in place for when adversity comes up.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I’d really like to bring more attention and awareness to people who struggle with severe autism. As a parent of a child with autism, I feel this growing community is still largely neglected in general in our society. We should be working harder to provide these kids and adults with the right resources and services to be as happy and independent as possible.

We are blessed that some very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them 🙂

Related to my idea above — and as a California resident — I’d like to chat with Gavin Newsom about what we can do to provide more resources to help my son and other children with autism receive the services they need to be a part of our community.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

I don’t have my own blog or social pages, but you can follow what Brightline and I are up to at https://www.hellobrightline.com/resources — we’re always adding more content and resources to help people who need mental or behavioral health support.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

Author(s)

  • Savio Clemente

    Board Certified Wellness Coach (NBC-HWC, ACC), #1 Best-selling Author, Syndicated Columnist, Podcaster, and Stage 3 Cancer Survivor

    The Human Resolve LLC

    Savio P. Clemente coaches cancer survivors to overcome the confusion and gain the clarity needed to get busy living in mind, body, and spirit. He inspires health and wellness seekers to find meaning in the “why” and cultivate resilience in their mindset.

    Savio is a Board Certified Wellness Coach (NBC-HWC, ACC), #1 best-selling author, syndicated columnist, podcaster, stage 3 cancer survivor, and founder of The Human Resolve LLC. He has interviewed notable celebrities and TV personalities and has been featured on Fox News, The Wrap, and has worked with Authority Magazine, Thrive Global, BuzzFeed, Food Network, WW and Bloomberg. Savio has been invited to cover numerous industry events throughout the U.S. and abroad.

    His mission is to provide clients, listeners, and viewers alike with tangible takeaways on how to lead a truly healthy, wealthy, and wise lifestyle. Savio pens a weekly newsletter in which he delves into secrets to living smarter by feeding your “three brains” — head ?, heart ?, and gut ? — in the hope of connecting the dots to those sticky parts of our nature that matter to living our best life.