We Are the Medicine® Framework
A New Science of Thriving to Foster Flourishing Right Where Are Today
Christina Bethell, PhD, MBA, MPH
The We Are the Medicine® (WAM) framework recognizes the need and possibility to dramatically improve child,
family, and community flourishing by fostering the relational and emotional roots of well-being. It shines a
light on our innate capacity to flourish even in the midst of adversity and actions we can take right now to
move toward the healing and transformation our current syndemic of childhood adversity, intergenerational and
collective trauma requires. This framework seeks to awaken and activate possibilities to heal and reset current
trajectories to create an unstoppable self, family, and community led healing and flourishing movement in
society, research, policy, and practice.
The We Are the Medicine® framework sets forth six key premises to frame the need and opportunity and
identifies six design concepts to guide the translation of a new integrated science of thriving to advance a
positive construct of health. Dr. Bethell’s “six wishes” guide action in policy and practice. The CAHMI’s
transformation toolkit sets forth science-based flourishing strategies and a recommendations roadmap for
fostering self, family and community led healing as the key to prevent adversity and flourish.
Six Key Premises for a Brain and Heart Smart Approach to Child, Family, and Population Health
- Emphasizes the cross-cutting role of safe, stable, nurturing relationships to healthy child brain development and health across life and the need to build a caring capacity
- Legitimizes the known impact of embedded and chronic stress on child development and well- being and adult health
- Calls out the syndemic of adverse childhood experiences and the possibilities arising from a new science of thriving to promote self-led individual, family, community, and organizational healing
- Recognizes that child development depends on adult development and the urgency to promote healthy parenting, positive childhood experiences, and a “Your being, their well-being” model for parents, teachers, doctors, practitioners, and all who support children.
- Concludes that the health of children and our nation calls us to squarely promote positive health and to heal developmental trauma --employing “through any door” relationship-centered approaches that engage people in citizen science to learn what works for whom
Six New Science of Thriving Principles:
- Concerns itself with the capacity for positive child and human development even amid adversity.
- Frames well-being as a learned ability requiring enabling context
- Places the locus of human health and dynamics of development within the relational, social, emotional, and environmental context we co-create
- Balances the conventional focus on risk and pathology with an explicit focus on what is already whole, strengths and restoration.
- Innovates to engage largely untapped capacities for self, family and community led healing and resilience and harness opportunities to shift health, education, and social norms & practices
- Builds a “through any door” capacity across health, education, social sectors to prevent intra and interpersonal harm, optimize positive self-care behaviors, and create an epidemic of flourishing.
"Mindfulness is a necessary state to be in to live your life. All growth occurs because you are in a state of mindfulness. Without mindfulness, there is no growth.” - Bessel van der Kolk