Cultural Humility & Acknowledging Self:How Mindfulness Practices can enhance your school social worker role Presenter: Julia Colangelo, LCSW Clinician, Supervisor, Educator, Consultant Pronouns: she/her/hers www.juliacolangelo.com Image: https://positivepsychologyprogram.com/
Julia Colangelo, LCSWInstructor • Pronouns she/her/hers • LCSW Clinical Therapist and Supervisor in NY and NJ • New York University (BSW) Columbia University (MSW) • Instructor at Columbia University, recurring Guest Speaker at NYU Silver School of Social Work • Provide CBT and Mindfulness-based therapy to families, youth, and adults in private practice and school settings • Instructs on topics of mindfulness, advanced clinical practice, and wellness to students, clients, and helping professionals through the lens of understanding Power, Racism, Oppression and Privilege in our intersectional identities • Doctoral Candidate in DSW program at UPENN
Student introductions • Name • Prounouns - Role as a school social worker - Current/future career goals in social work • Reason for enrolling in this workshop (Feel free to ask a question in your intro that I will try to cover in the workshop)
Journaling exercise:Acknowledging Ourselves • As our first mindfulness practice, we will bring ourselves into the present moment and engage with mindful reflection of the day so far and how it has shifted our understandings of our roles: • Who am I in the school? • What components of privilege and oppression • contribute to my role? • How do others see me as a school social worker? • How do I make meaning of my role? • How do I integrate cultural humility into my daily tasks and interactions? • How do I preserve my energy to carry out daily tasks? • How can I be kinder to myself in this final month of the school year, and the upcoming year? https://positivepsychologyprogram.com/
Ken Hardy’s Tasks of Participants in Discussions about Race and Other Aspects of Social Identity GENERIC TASKS: • To be the expert in your own experience, not of others’ experiences. • To create space for the telling of one’s story. • To make space for both thoughts and feelings.
Ken Hardy’s Tasks of Participants in Discussions about Race and Other Aspects of Social Identity • TASKS OF THE SUBJUGATED: • To overcome learned voicelessness; to advocate for oneself. One needs to challenge the belief that it is not worth speaking up. The subjugated have often been taught that “silence is golden” and “don’t speak unless spoken to”; the challenge is to unlearn this behavior. • To learn to exhale the negative messages that have become internalized. • To overcome the addiction to protect, educate or • change the privileged. • To deal with one’s own rage, to channel it appropriately, not to eradicate it. • Shame is a major stumbling block for the privileged; rage is a major stumbling block for the subjugated. TASKS OF THE PRIVILEGED: • To resist false notions of equality. It is not helpful to equate suffering. • Intentions vs. consequences: to understand that intentions may be good, but that doesn’t change the fact that consequences may be bad. It is not helpful to just clarify intentions when consequences were hurtful. Acknowledge the effect of consequences of your actions. Intentions are the province of the privileged; consequences are the provinces of the subjugated. • To challenge the ahistorical approach. History does matter, the past does effect the present. The privileged cannot understand the subjugated “out of context.” • To develop thick skin. Need to be able to thicken one’s skin, to not give up on connections with people who have been subjugated even if you are initially rebuffed, to continue to go back and back, to continue to try. • To not become a FOE—framer of others’ experiences.
Today’s lecture aims to: • Demonstrate a developing mindfulness practice and articulate its utility in professional and personal domains without the cultural appropriation of mindfulness • Understand the meaning and significance of differently held cultural belief systems and coping mechanisms crucial to the successful use of mindfulness-based approaches. • Demonstrate an understanding of the way in which mindfulness-based interventions can function as evidence-based or evidence-informed practices that can assist clients in coping with a range of life challenges and that can empower us as clinicians to balance our many roles in schools.
What is mindfulness? • Being fully present, on purpose, and nonjudgmentally ***Ideally nonjudgmentally*** • The ability to be aware of the mind’s processes **Even aware of the ways that we do judge ourselves or are trying to control our own thoughts or feelings on mindful awareness** • Being with what is, just as it is Questions? Comments? (Hanh, 1975) (Kabat-Zinn, 1994)
Origins of Mindfulness • Mindfulness is a practice involved in various religious and secular traditions, from Hinduism and Buddhism to yoga and, more recently, non-religious meditation. • Mindfulness practices have been around for thousands of years as an independent practice or part of their tradition. • Mindfulness was born in the East through religious and spiritual institutions and practices. In the West, it’s common that the practices are traced to secular institutions. It is critical to recognize and respect the roots of mindfulness to Eastern religion. Acknowledging the history of mindfulness is imperative in order to identify how we can integrate these practices without appropriating. • Some claim that the history of mindfulness should not be reduced to Buddhism and Hinduism, as mindfulness also has roots in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam (Trousselard et al., 2014). However for our discussion today we will focus on the origins from eastern traditions. (Hanh, 1975), (Trousselard et al., 2014)
Hinduism, Buddhism, and Mindfulness • Hinduism is considered the oldest religion in the world but it arose from the synthesis of many religious and historical traditions in a region that is now designated India. Hinduism has no singular founder. The religious traditions can be traced back at least 4,000 years in what is now Pakistan which is why it is considered the oldest religion in the world. Between 1,500 and 2,500 years ago, more texts were composed which are now involved in present-day Hinduism which intertwine yoga, meditation and mindfulness. Buddhism in many ways grew from and out of the base of Hinduism. • Buddhism has a more well-defined and documented history and was founded in 400-500 BCW by Siddhartha Gautama who was referred to as Buddha from then on. He was thought to have been raised in Modern day Nepal and India. Buddhism aims to show its followers the path to enlightenment. There are different forms of Buddhism (Theravada, Zen) and most often we think of Dalai Lama and Tibetan Buddhism. Mindfulness can be considered the first step towards enlightenment in Buddhism. • Both religious traditions are focused on dharma, which is difficult to translate or define but can be interpreted as living in a way that exudes harmony with the natural order of the universe. • Some differences emerge because Hinduism does not use the sacred texts of the Veda (Hacker, Davis, 2006). (Hanh, 1975)
ThichNhat Hanh “Thay” (meaning Teacher) • Born in central Vietnam in 1926 • Entered TuHieu Temple, in Hue city, in 1942 as a novice monk at the age of sixteen. • Actively involved in the 1950s to renew Vietnamese Buddhism. • When war came to Vietnam, Thay founded the Engaged Buddhism movement to continue living the contemplative life and meditate in monastery while ALSO helping those suffering around him. • His life has since been dedicated to the work of inner transformation for the benefit of individuals and society. • In 1961 he travelled to the United States to teach Comparative Religion at Princeton University and the following year went on to teach and research Buddhism at Columbia University. He returned to Vietnam in 1963 to play a leading role in the Buddhist movement for peace and social action. • Was in exile for 39 years due to his mission of peace to end hostilities in Vietnam. • Established Plum Village in France which is now the West’s largest and most active Buddhist monastery with over 200 resident monastics and up to 8,000 visitors per year to learn the art of mindful living. • Currently unable to speak and mostly paralyzed on the right side following a stroke in 2016, Thay continues to participate in mindful meals, celebrations and meditation as his health allows. ThichNhat Hanh clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=99&v=_iLHm7LixaM Recommended literature: The Miracle Mindfulness How to Love/Eat/Walk/Fight/Relax (five mini books) No Mud No Lotus
Attitudinal Foundation of Mindfulness *Adapted from Full Catastrophe Living by Jon Kabat-Zinn • Non-judging • Patience • Beginner’s Mind • Trust • Non-striving • Acceptance • Letting Go
Practice forms of Mindfulness • Sitting • Walking • Standing • Talking • Listening • Working • Eating • Creating • BEING
Mindfulness Activities: Breath work and Expressive Arts • Finger Breathing • Hand Prints- Trace your hands twice - The first symbolizes what we want to let go of - The second symbolizes what we want to reach for **Notice the experience of being in the moment, interacting with the colors, the reactions you feel with the materials.
Acknowledging our Positionality • School Social Workers hold many professional identities • Each of us hold many personal identities • By acknowledging ourselves, our identities, and our positionality in our daily tasks and responsibilities as social workers, we are able to improve our ability to serve others with compassion while not compromising our own self-worth or boundaries. • Mindfulness practices improve our self-awareness and bring us into the moment so that we can be where our feet our and be intentional in our role and responsibilities.
Discussion • Have any of you used mindfulness skills in your practice? • What has worked and what hasn’t?
Engaging clients in mindfulness practice Psychoeducation: It can be helpful to provide the historical and cultural context of mindfulness as well as the more recent research and efficacy to our clients Acknowledging Ourselves: It’s necessary to discuss culture, privilege, oppression, religion, client-therapist differences and similarities. Empowering our clients: Sharing that there is no “wrong way” to experience mindfulness It can be useful to learn together, and provide practice if you’re able to follow-up on what’s working or not. *Just because it worked for one person, doesn’t mean it will work for the next. Remember to provide choice for our clients as they may not have had any or many choices in the past*
Divine Spark in YOU (and your clients) • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WVplE1WoA1E
When clients seem reluctant to Mindfulness & Introducing mindfulness to clients • Keep in mind if it is their resistance/reluctance or yours • Don’t force any intervention however “benign” it seems or evidence-based it is • Mindfulness is a practice everyone does without thinking about it (as ironic as it may sound) that one can be mindful in a thoughtless way • Continue to process with supervisors, consultation, and peers when you need support or unsure • Explore what clients believe mindfulness to be, and informing them the varieties of ways to integrate mindfulness practices- using examples from class and readings, or videos • Offering a variety of interventions can be most useful and practicing with a peer or in a group setting, or family member, friend, or stuffed animal. Recording self, getting your “elevator pitch” ready. Can I have a volunteer to practice with me?
Integrating mindfulness practice (homework) with clients When you’ve done some breathing/mindfulness exercises together: “I wonder how it might feel to practice breathing exercises at home/school/work/outside of our sessions?” **Give the client a chance to think/respond, recognize they may not feel safe to do so** - While other EBP interventions might require homework, the goal of mindfulness practices as an intervention is to increase awareness. For some clients, they might not choose/want to/feel comfortable/safe doing these exercises outside of the clinical room. Remember we are NOT conducting MBSR, MBCT, ACT, DBT when we integrate mindfulness interventions, so we do not require practice to be completed necessarily. - Frame the word homework as practice/explore language and what it means to them. - If/when a client doesn’t want to practice outside of session, don’t take it personally. If they choose not to and voice this, it might be a helpful opportunity to explore whether they even wish to continue using the exercises/interventions within your own sessions! Can I have a volunteer to practice with me?
Clinical Considerations • How can mindfulness go wrong? • You’ll sense it if it’s not sitting well with you or with the client • Ask for feedback, again bring yourself and your layers of identity into the space • Explore with the client what might have worked better/brought about a different result • Similar to exposure, this might not necessarily be the first step in treatment. Once the therapeutic alliance is established, the flow of these interventions can happen. • Never rush it! It is always better to allow more time to process/discuss than less • Technique to accept negative emotions • Consider that it is often not about accepting, but ‘sitting with’ those emotions. • Consider more active exercises- art, movement, writing, etc to give our senses/body more space to breathe- literally! • Impact on us and how our own practices inform our work • Consider whether your clients can usually tell if or when you’re connected with them or fully in the room. The goal of mindfulness practices in our own work is often to be in the moment, and therefore provide enhanced care to our clients.
Clinical Considerations • Counteract burnout with mindfulness • Once you’ve started a practice, it will evolve but practice and repetition will encourage your practice to transform and support your role as a school social worker. • Soak up skills and find ways that your school setting can support your self compassion • The more you integrate these skills, the more likely you’ll have a sense for what next step feels right and in what capacity. Sit with that. • Consider having a community space to practice, or having an accountability partner to keep your practice going. • Seek out resources that work for you, your beliefs, your identity and try something understand that your practice will look different from one day to the next. • Reinvigorate our practices if you fall into a slump • Talk about your practice! No one can have a perfect practice- it doesn’t exist. Consider ways you can hold yourself accountable. Perhaps it is working with a teacher, a coach, sticky notes, reminders, or schedule breathing time. • When you forget/fall back into a pattern or find you don’t practice the way you’d like or had envisioned, be aware of any self-judgment. Notice this experience, don’t judge yourself for having it, and then examine what steps might be within reach • Sometimes the simplest exercise/practices can excite us the most! • Bring it back to basics
Writing exercise: How can mindfulness practices help you in your role as a school social worker? • In what ways can increasing self-awareness of our identity and how we come across as school social workers improve your quality of care to families in the school? • How can you remember to give yourself time and moments to breathe during hectic days? • What would it mean to offer yourself the opportunity to be aware of your full range of thoughts and feelings? • What helps you remember the impact that formal and informal mindfulness practices can have on your body and delivery of services?
Resources: Thich Nhat Hanh: The Miracle Mindfulness How to Love/Eat/Walk/Fight/Relax (five mini books) No Mud No Lotus Part 1 & 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dDXcIaUKHDU https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JlEqlqzkpT4&t=289s Jon Kabat-Zinn: Full Catastrophe Living Wherever you go, There you are Black Lives Matter & Allies Meditations: http://drcandicenicole.com/2016/07/black-lives-matter-meditation/ Rhonda V. Magee, J.D., M.A.: The Way of ColorInsight: Understanding Race in Our Lives Through Mindfulness-Based ColorInsight Anti-oppressive Pedagogy: http://www.contemplativepracticesforantioppressionpedagogy.com
Mindful Movement exercises together Those who wish will participate in mindful walking and mindful movement together. If you’d prefer, find this time to connect to your breath rather than physically move in the activity. https://positivepsychologyprogram.com
Workshop “takeaway” & discussion What is one clinical skill, mindfulness practice, or consideration that you found helpful,challenging, interesting, or surprising?
Thank you! Feel free to stay in touch: Julia.firstname.lastname@example.org Good luck! https://positivepsychologyprogram.com