Child's Mind--- Integrating Mindfulness Practices Into Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy

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CE Credit: 2

Length: 110 minutes

Session offered by Division 54.

***Due to audio constraints at the convention center, the audio for this session is low. Headphones or external computer speakers will help***

As mindfulness practice becomes increasingly mainstream in our larger culture and within psychotherapy, interest has increasingly turned toward bringing mindfulness, meditation and other contemplative practices into work with children and adolescents. With upwards of six million children and teens taking psychiatric medication daily the interest in alternative and adjunct therapies is growing. Mindfulness with young people can be taught and integrated into a range of settings, starting with the psychotherapistís office, but expanding into the home, classroom, hospital, playing fields and performance spaces of todayís children.

A recent boom in mindfulness research shows impressive benefits to the human brain, body and behavior. Mental illnesses that respond positively to mindfulness and mindfulness-based therapies such as BSR, MBCT, DBT and ACT include a range of anxiety disorders from GAD to OCD to PTSD, chronic depression, psychotic disorders and borderline personality disorder. Subjects trained in mindfulness practice have shown reductions in problematic behaviors including substance abuse, self-injury, binge-eating and aggressive behaviors. Cognitive studies show improvements in attention span and executive. In medicine, mindfulness based stress reduction has long been used as a quality of life adjunct treatment, but increasingly seen as a primary treatment for stress-related syndromes, as well as pain management, insomnia, and immune system functioning.

But is mindfulness practice with young people really even possible? Experience and research tell us that teaching shorter mindfulness practices to children is certainly possible with many of the same benefits, and may even be building and boosting psychological and physical resilience. In this skill-building workshop, participants will learn to integrate mindfulness into their clinical work with young populations. Didactic parts of the presentation will include the research rationale behind using and teaching mindfulness practices to children and teens. Special attention will also be given to definitions related to mindfulness practices, concentration practices, and similar meditative exercises.

Theories about the operation of mindfulness will be introduced, with an emphasis on cognitive-behavioral and physiological processes. Although the primary focus on the workshop will be on mindfulness applications in the clinical context, attention will also be given to innovative approaches to integrating mindfulness in health psychology and educational psychology settings. Most importantly however, the presentation will not just be didactic but interactive and experiential.

Participants will leave having learned and practiced multiple mindfulness exercises that are appropriate to children, teens, families and adults and that can be taught populations with a broad range of learning styles and cultural backgrounds. A diverse set of cases will also be presented and discussed. Ample time will be included throughout for small and large group discussions, dyadic exercises, as well as participant reflections and questions.

Learning Objective 1
Describe research findings and rationale for integrating mindfulness practice into clinical work with children and adolescents.

Learning Objective 2
Teach specific mindfulness practices to children, adolescents and families.

Presenters: Christopher T. Willard, PsyD (Chair)

Supplementary Materials

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