SBM Institute & Research



The purpose of the SBM Institute is the evaluation and measurement of the achievement of the ‘Sierra Bender Method for Personal & Professional Empowerment (‘SBM’) of empowerment, leadership and entrepreneurship.

The mission is to lower the statistics of violence against women and girls- to empower females to claim their bodies, their femininity and to find their voices and assert their rights.

The purpose of the ‘SBM’ method is to produce on going policies to protect females and form empowerment and prevention programs.



The Sierra Bender Method for Personal & Professional Empowerment (‘SBM’) dramatically leads to an inside-out transformation of the whole person. Participants come full circle as all four essential bodies–physical, emotional, mental and spiritual– are strengthened, healed, and integrated.

‘SBM’ Method  teaches people of all ages, health and fitness levels to become instruments of their own recovery and health by connecting them with their bodies’ natural intelligence and healing capacities.

‘SBM’ Method empowers individuals personally and professionally to break through to new levels of achievement and self-realization, and to challenge, treat and heal all aspects of human experience. The SBM 4 Body Fit  program is a complete system and unique multi-modal method infusing clinical studies with holistic intelligence. SBM 4 Body Fit works to break the cycle of stress and dis-empowerment by synthesizing the disciplines of modern medicine, science, indigenous wisdom, holistic health, exercise physiology, quantum physics, nutrition, yoga therapy and the psychologies of trauma, addiction and sexual abuse.



The ‘SBM’ method is intended to build the foundation of leadership and entrepreneurship of females of all strata, so that they may become advocates in their families, communities, nations and the world.




The Sierra Bender Method  for Personal & Professional Empowerment (‘SBM’) is at the core of Sierra Bender Inc.’s incredible results for female empowerment. It has been clinically researched by the American University Department of Psychology in Washington, D.C. since 2010 and published in medical journals for its remarkable results.

Its 2010 report showed astounding results for the Sierra Bender Empowerment Method and its Effects on a Female Population. These results suggest that one weekend of participation in the ‘SBM’ Method  significantly improves self-esteem, power, autonomy, community activism, righteous anger, and mindfulness:


“The Sierra Bender Empowerment Method (‘SBM’) and its Effects on a Female Population”

87% increase in participants’ self-esteem

93% increase in power (leadership and entrepreneurship, internal and external action)

70% increase in community activism and leadership 

50% increase in participants’ levels of optimism and beliefs that they had control over their future

77% increase in righteous anger (feeling victorious and courageous, not victimized and compromised)

Over 100 women age 13 to 75 participated in the ‘SBM’ study. The study used a multi-variable analysis to measure empowerment changes. The ‘SBM’ program produced more than a 70% growth rate in self-esteem, power, and community activism regardless of age, race, ethnicity or socio-economic status.

Three studies examined effects of the Sierra Bender Method for Personal & Professional Empowerment (‘SBM’) on women’s self-image and social empowerment. In pilot Studies 1 and 2 pre-post studies at two different locations (Omega Institute Holistic Studies, NY and Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health, MA) suggested that one weekend of participation in the ‘SBM’ significantly improved Self-esteem, Power, Autonomy, Community Activism, and Righteous Anger, according to psychological tests the Mindful Attention Awareness Scale and the Empowerment Scale.

In the onsite control Study 3, changes were compared in these same variables for 50 women who participated in the ‘SBM’ relative to 14 women who participated in recreational R&R activities at the same retreat cite (Kripalu Institute for Yoga and Health) during the same weekend. A two-way analyses of variance for repeated measures indicated that, relative to the on-site control group, the ‘SBM’ significantly enhanced Self-Esteem, Power, and Autonomy on the Empowerment Scale (1997). Although not predicted initially, we found that these increases were especially strong for women reporting histories of domestic violence.

In 2010 measurement started at Kripalu Yoga & Health Center, Lenox, MA and Omega Institute Holistic Studies, Rhinebeck, NY, followed by control group measurement at Kripalu Yoga & Health Center, Lenox, MA.

Results are soon to be published in: medical journal reference.



Harvard University

Presently, graduate psychology students and faculty at American University are studying the long-term effects of the ‘SBM’. The three research studies originally conducted at Omega Institute and Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health regarding the Goddess to the Core® weekend-long program showed statistically powerful results. These results suggest that one weekend of participation in the ‘SBM’ significantly improves Self-esteem, Power, Autonomy, Community Activism, Righteous Anger, and Mindfulness, according to psychological tests the Empowerment Scale (1997) and the Mindful Attention Awareness Scale (2002).

These positive results have inspired further research regarding the Day of Empowerment™ held at Harvard University ans Simmons College. Current research will focus on women’s leadership and entrepreneurship, in addition to, validating the Empowerment Scale variables from the original studies, including Self-esteem, Power, Community Activism, Optimism, and Righteous Anger.

The goal of this research is to evaluate the long-term effects in leadership, entrepreneurship, and empowerment produced by the ‘SBM’. The current study will include another pre- and post-test set of questionnaires on the day of the workshop, as well as evaluate the long-term effects of the ‘SBM’ by readministering the psychological questionnaires 3 months to up to 5 years following the Day of Empowerment Tour. We will use the Empowerment Scale (1997), Revised Self Leadership Questionnaire (2002), and the Entrepreneurial Leadership Questionnaire (1992). The goal of this research is to evaluate whether the ‘SBM’ encourages women to turn any underlying pain into power and leadership. The hypothesis of this research is that the ‘SBM’ empowers women to become leaders and entrepreneurs, and as a result this will cause the statistic of violence on campus to decrease.

Utilizing the ‘SBM’ Method, the Day of Empowerment™  is empowering young women nationwide on college campuses to fight against gender violence and to create a new sisterhood on campuses for prevention and protection.

March 24th 2012: Day of Empowerment™

Simmons College, Boston MA

November 10th 2012:  Day of Empowerment™ with Harvard Law school (Diane Rosenfeld, Harvard Law, Boston, MA).

The empowerment measurement scales will be applied in the frame of a five-year plan measurement of the ‘SBM’  Method at Harvard University. This event and measurement is for all college women in Boston area including Yale, Simmons and Boston University. 



Strengthening Women’s Resilience 2014

Jackie Kinley MD in Canada teams up with American University researcher Debbie Norris in Washington, D.C. Together these international researchers evaluating the impact of the Sierra Bender Method for Personal & Professional Empowerment (‘SBM’) on women’s sense of efficacy, agency, self -esteem, and resilience. Furthermore, data will be collected that will help us to understand some of the psychological challenges women are facing in order to better serve them and prepare them for the challenges of today’s complex social milieu. Stay posted for the upcoming research.



Eleni Rizakos, Deborah Norris, and Brian T. Yates, Department of Psychology, American University. Eleni Rizakos and Deborah Norris, The Mindfulness Center, 4963 Elm Street, Suite 100, Bethesda, MD.

This research was conducted in partial fulfillment of the Master’s of Arts thesis requirement for Eleni Rizakos. We benefited from the helpful advice of Noemí Enchautegui-de-Jesús on development of the thesis manuscript. Thank you to Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health, MA and Omega Institute Holistic Studies, NY, for allowing this research to be conducted at their locations; and to Dr. Sally Rogers, for creating a scale to measure empowerment, and for granting the use of the scale. This research was not supported by any grant, but we appreciate the willingness of Sierra Bender to allow us to collect data on her programs. This research is dedicated to women and girls around the world.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Eleni Rizakos, The Mindfulness Center, 4963 Elm Street, Suite 100, Bethesda, MD. 20814. E-mail:

Researchers looked at self efficacy, self esteem, power, powerlessness, community activism, righteous anger, optimism control over the future, five factors of empowerment that have been revealed as determining through the following study of 271 member of six self help programs in six states: E. Sally Rogers, Sc.D., Judi Chamberlin, Marsha Lander Ellison, Ph.D., Tim Crean, B.A. A Consumer-constructed scale to measure empowerment among users of mental health services: available at: (last visit August 2012).



Empowerment Scale – a 28-item instrument designed to measure subjective feelings of empowerment in which respondents answer questions on a four-point scale ranging from Strongly Agree to Strongly Disagree. The scale was developed to reflect a consensual definition of empowerment developed by consumers of mental health services and has been demonstrated to have good consistency and internal reliability, as well as good factorial validity and known groups validity.

Mindful Attention Awareness Scale – a 15-item scale designed to assess a core characteristic of dispositional mindfulness, namely, open or receptive awareness of and attention to what is taking place in the present. The scale shows strong psychometric properties and has been validated with college, community, and cancer patient samples. Correlational, quasi-experimental, and laboratory studies have shown that the MAAS taps a unique quality of consciousness that is related to, and predictive of, a variety of self-regulation and well being constructs.

Psychological Well-being Scales – consisting of 6 dimensions: autonomy, environmental mastery, personal growth, positive relations with others, purpose in life, self-acceptance. This self-report scale was designed to assess individual’s well being at a particular moment in time within each of these 6 dimensions.  Individuals respond to various statements and indicate on a 6-point scale how true each statement is of them. Higher scores on each on scale indicate greater well-being on that dimension.



Dr. Deborah Norris has a B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. in psychology/ psychopharmacology, and is Adjunct Professor and Psychologist-in-Residence in the Department of Psychology at American University.

Dr. Deborah Norris served as thesis committee Chair for the research study, “The Sierra Bender Empowerment Method and its Effects on a Female Population.” Dr. Norris is the Founder and Executive Director of The Mindfulness Center and is trained extensively in mind-body therapies, ranging from traditional medical and psychotherapeutic practices to holistic and integrative therapies and lifestyle practices. She is a health scientist with over 30 years of experience in research, clinical application and education.

Dr. Brian Yates has a BA in psychology from the University of California at San Diego and Ph.D. in psychology from Stanford University.

Dr. Brian Yatesserved as a thesis committee member for the research study, “The Sierra Bender Empowerment Method and its Effects on a Female Population.”

Dr. Yates is a tenured full Professor in the Department of Psychology at American University in Washington, DC, where he began working as an Assistant Professor in 1976. Dr. Yates has published 77 articles and book chapters and 5 books. Most of his publications apply cost-effectiveness or cost-benefit analysis to the systematic evaluation and improvement of human services.

Eleni Rizakos has a BA in criminology and criminal justice from the University of Maryland, College Park, a MS in management from Argosy University, and a MA in psychology from American University.

Eleni Rizakos conducted the research study, “The Sierra Bender Empowerment Method and its Effects on a Female Population” in partial fulfillment of the Master’s of Arts thesis requirement.

Karin Weyland has a PhD in Sociology at the New School for Social Research, New York City.She is an Associate Professor, Dept. of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus.

Karin supported the creation of the demographic profile of the Sierra Bender Method for Personal & Professional Empowerment (‘SBM’) scale. She is a certified SBM Empowerment Coach & Therapist (2010).



“After having attended your workshop Boot Camp for Goddesses® Level 1: The Awakening, I came to the conclusion that you could potentially change the nature of psychotherapy.  As a psychotherapist I was quick to realize that your workshop, in 5 days, had the capacity to cut through 20 years of therapy.  I am jumping on board. ’’ Elisabeth Traphagen


“Within 5 days of participating in Boot Camp for Goddesses® Teens: Goddess in Training I became a totally changed person. When I first came to the workshop, I realized I was using my throat to speak.  I was shy, and didn’t have enough confidence in myself.  Now I use my core to speak my truth and I am no longer afraid to show the world who I truly am.” 

Sophia Traphagen 14 years old


“I am delighted to share the initial Sierra Bender Method for Personal & Professional Empowerment (‘SBM’) research results with so many people who are equally passionate about empowering women and girls and are seeking alternative therapeutic modalities to do so. This research represents the beginning of over 25 years of my work finally coming into fruition.”  Sierra Bender