in Clinical Practice
Intensive experiential training for health / mental health professionals
Mindfulness has entered the mainstream of mental health treatment, with the efficacy of traditional meditation methods being supported by clinical and neuroscience research findings. Alone or in combination with other therapeutic modalities, mindfulness techniques can be beneficial for clients with issues including addiction, anxiety, trauma, depression, ADHD, relational difficulties and emotional dysregulation. My methods are informed by the latest in clinical and neuroscience research, and based on over 30 years of experience with the traditional meditation practices from which clinical research-based mindfulness techniques were derived.
What is mindfulness?
Most of us have had mindful experiences – moments of direct experience of present life that have a simple satisfying quality, uncomplicated by preoccupations with the past and the future, and free from burdensome attitudes about self and others. I teach specific techniques to cultivate mindfulness so that the ease and freedom of mindful experience can become a more familiar part of everyday life.
The benefit for your clients
By orienting to their moment-to-moment sensory experience using simple techniques, clients learn to rest in the present, free from the exaggerated urgency of thought and emotion. Over time, this leads to new opportunities to notice and disrupt reactive patterns and have a more fresh and satisfying experience of everyday life. A new experience of agency – the ability to have impact on your life and the world – is an important benefit of mindfulness practice, and leads to greater strength of agency in other matters.
The challenge for clients and clinicians
Though mindfulness techniques are simple, clients often find them challenging because they run against habitual patterns of thought and emotion. For example, habitual patterns of self-criticism can intrude on the simple techniques, leading to an unpleasant or tiring experience. The challenge for the clinician is to identify and remedy such habitual obstacles as they arise so that clients can benefit from the ease of precise mindfulness practice. For those clients who cannot tolerate “one more thing to do,” we will also explore very effective methods of discovering and cultivating mindfulness experience already occurring in the client’s life, without the need of introducing a formal mindfulness practice.
Meeting the challenge: experiential training for clinicians
This training is designed to enable clinicians to flexibly integrate mindfulness techniques into treatment in a way suited to each client’s condition and capacities. I teach/model the skillful use of didactic information, instruction, inquiry, correction and support to gently bring about a self-sustaining mindfulness practice. These methods are designed for use, a little at a time, within the constraints of the standard therapeutic session, and in combination with other therapeutic modalities as needed. To drive experiential learning during this course, clinicians agree to take on specific mindfulness practices (up to 10 minutes a day) and participate in detailed exploration of their practice acquisition and technique precision over the course of training. Case material is also used to explore the impact of special client characteristics on this process.
Who has benefited from this training?
I have trained clinicians in hospital psychiatric departments, university counseling centers, substance abuse rehab centers, OMH licensed mental health clinics, and in private private practice. Clinician trainees have included psychologists, social workers, art therapists, nurse practitioners, mental health counselors and psychiatrists, from beginners to long-term meditation practitioners, as well as individuals with extensive training in manualized approaches such as Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy.
A flexible approach: small-group training, on-site staff training, and individual training
Training is provided in a small-group setting with 8 weekly 1.5 hour sessions. Training can be broken up into 2 separate modules for ease of scheduling. I also can provide on-site staff training to fit your institution’s needs. Some clinicians prefer one-on-one training, and this can be flexibly arranged.
Module 1: Essential skills - discovering ease and precision
I model the introduction, in-session practice, assessment and correction of mindfulness techniques that clinicians will use with clients. Obstacles to practice are addressed as they arise, and case material is introduced to cover other common client issues. Variations of instruction and technique are used to reinforce practice precision. Methods to anchor practice in daily life are also discussed.
Module 2: Refinement of clinical skills through teach-back and case exploration
Trainees take turns leading the group in introduction, instruction, inquiry and correction of mindfulness techniques, including discussion or role-play exploration of cases from the trainee’s own clinical practice. Clinical skills are refined through critique. Case material will be explored to reveal ways that a client’s spontaneous experience of mindfulness can be recognized and shaped toward an effective practice.
Ongoing Training: Client characteristics, and fostering emergent qualities
We explore clinician’s and client’s development of mindful experience, recognizing and addressing variations in personal characteristics, environment, and life events. Using training session dynamics and case material, I model methods for eliciting report and exploration of the sometimes subtle positive experiences (such as empathy) that result from cultivating mindfulness, connecting them with the view and practice of mindfulness. We explore the clinicians mindful presence, and how to foster being in mindful relationship with clients.