Dec 15, 2020
With all that is going on, compassion and empathy are crucial to managing the stress and anxiety we continue to struggle with. That’s why I am thrilled to have Dr. Kathleen Carroll-Wray as our guest today to talk about mindfulness and how powerful it can be.
Dr. Kathleen Carroll-Wray is a licensed clinical psychologist and registered yoga instructor. She specializes in psychological assessment and mind-body psychotherapy for children, adolescents and adults. Today, she talks about mindfulness and how it can help individuals and families who experience anxiety or have trouble with focus, emotional regulation, or impulse control. She gives us tools on how we, as parents, can model mindfulness for our children and how breathing helps regulate the nervous system.
Thank you for joining me for this episode of the Diverse Thinking Different Learning podcast. It is my hope that these simple mindfulness techniques that Dr. Carroll-Wray shares with us help ease a bit of the worry and anxiety and provide a way to give you self-compassion.
[2:08] - There’s a lot of anxiety that Dr. Wilson and Dr. Carroll-Wray come across during assessment and within their practices.
[3:01] - There are obvious stressors but there are also worries that are harder to pinpoint.
[3:33] - Anticipatory anxiety is when you worry about something specific that you know is coming up, sometimes even in your day-day-day schedule.
[4:10] - Kids pick up on parent anxiety. There’s so much anxiety going on right now in everyone and Kathleen says this is an opportunity for increased compassion.
[5:41] - Dr. Carroll-Wray’s practice promotes overall well-being rather than specific issues.
[6:41] - Mindfulness is bringing attention to the present moment and focusing on how you feel without judgment.
[7:37] - The starting point is to begin noticing behaviors. Then, recognize how you feel about those behaviors.
[8:41] - When engaging in mindfulness, make sure you don’t rush to what you need to do about something. You’re not acting on it, you’re just noticing.
[9:39] - Dr. Carroll-Wray explains how there is no clear answer on how long a parent practices mindfulness and that she models how it works in sessions with families. She provides a chart for those who need structure.
[12:05] - Creating a space is an important piece of mindfulness. Noticing your physical space and how you feel within it is helpful to ground yourself.
[13:47] - This physical space can vary per person. Dr. Wilson lists a few examples of where people might feel at ease the most in order to practice intentional mindfulness.
[15:32] - Dr. Carroll-Wray tends to work with parent modeling first to help families and children who experience anxiety. She says that adding in other sensory components helps families with emotional regulation.
[18:04] - Modeling mindfulness for children helps build parent-child connection and relationships.
[19:03] - Realizing how you feel and communicating it with facial expressions is one piece of the puzzle. Now there’s an opportunity for empathy!
[20:16] - Breathing is a huge part of emotional regulation. Practice taking deep breaths before giving this technique to your child.
[21:10] - Dr. Carroll-Wray describes what deep breathing should feel and look like. She also gives examples on how to teach your child how to participate.
[22:49] - Mindfulness is an incredibly effective skill. Over time, children will be able to self-advocate and use breath work to regulate the nervous system.
[24:27] - Deep breathing with a parent is a great way to intervene and over time, children will start to do this on their own.
[25:54] - You begin with noticing how you feel and how you are escalating.
[26:40] - Mindfulness techniques are immediate and accessible.
[27:14] - It can be scary to tune into your body because we spend so much time in our minds. It is normal to feel this way and as with any other skill, you need to practice it.
[28:13] - Kathleen is also a yoga instructor in addition to being a psychologist. She shares a story about a child she has worked with and shares how she combines the two areas of her work.
[29:19] - Kathleen is a huge believer in empathy through movement.
[30:19] - Empathy is a gift to those who struggle because they often feel like they are not understood.
[32:14] - Mindfulness might not be enough for each individual. It is one skill but there are many other components that go into supporting a child’s wellness.
[34:20] - For parents who are struggling and are feeling overwhelmed, Kathleen says the only thing you should add to your plate right now is self-compassion.
[35:07] - Be mindful of your energy levels during different times of your day or different activities. What times of day or activities more draining than others?
[37:17] - There’s a lot we don’t have control over, so give yourself the gift of breath.
Kathleen Carroll-Wray, PsyD is a licensed clinical psychologist and registered yoga teacher offering integrative psychotherapy and psychological testing for children, adolescents and young adults. Many of her clients struggle with attention, social skills, flexibility, emotional regulation and family conflict. While working primarily with individual children, Kathleen often includes parents and care-providers into treatment, offering relaxation techniques for all participants in the child’s life.