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Debra Alvis, Ph.D.
12 Hours 34 Minutes
- PESI, Inc.
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Debra Alvis, Ph.D., is a licensed psychologist and private practitioner with over twenty-five years of clinical experience. She specializes in an integrative approach bringing together polyvagal, neuroscientific, and somatic principles to treat trauma and co-morbid disorders.
Debra discovered that the polyvagal approach facilitates a mindful awareness of the biological reactions influencing the therapist/client relationship and the client's sense of safety in the world. Integrating physiological, brain-based, body-focused approaches with traditional psychotherapeutic orientations helped clients to recover more easefully and quickly from trauma. In addition, with an increased sense of safety and connectedness, clients more frequently practiced the strategies required through her work in private practice and as a clinical supervisor, educator, and consultant.
Dr. Alvis developed and led the Mind/Body Program at the University of Georgia where she now teaches health psychology graduate students to apply polyvagal, neuroscientific, and somatic approaches, serves as project director for federal grant focusing on integrative healthcare, and develops mindfulness-based research studies. A thirty-year personal contemplative practice and over a thousand hours training as a mindfulness and yoga teacher further enrich her presentations.
Financial: Debra Alvis is in private practice. Dr. Alvis receives a speaking honorarium from PESI, Inc.
Non-financial: Debra Alvis has no relevant non-financial relationship to disclose.
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- Investigate the empirical support for mindfulness and connect this information to clinical implications for various conditions.
- Evaluate how understandable descriptions of neurological processes underlying disorders, in conjunction with understandable explanations of how mindfulness affects those processes, can motivate clients to engage in treatment.
- Assess for situations that may contraindicate the use of mindfulness with clients.
- Support how mindfulness training can enhance the cultivation of the therapeutic relationship.
- Employ mindfulness practices to impact the stress reaction and shift clients to a relaxation response.
- Evaluate how mindfulness interventions utilized in treatment plans for anxiety can help counter automatic patterns of thoughts.
- Assess how mindfulness can be taught in the clinical setting to help depressed clients manage negative self-talk.
- Support how mindfulness can enhance addiction treatment and help clients identify triggers that could lead to relapse.
- Investigate how mindfulness and breathing techniques that reduce the body’s anger response can be taught in-session to help clients manage their angered outbursts.
- Employ grounding techniques and breathing exercises that can be used to increase feelings of safety in traumatized clients.
- Assess how integrating mindfulness as an adjunctive therapy can help clinicians diversify available clinical techniques and individualize treatment.
- Distinguish between individual and group mindfulness practices and identify which types of clients would benefit from each.
- Differentiate between formal and informal mindfulness practices and characterize how they can be used in conjunction with one another to address the unique needs of clients.
Mindfulness and the Clinician:
“Know What You Teach” and “Teach What You Know”
Mindfulness Psychoeducation Approaches:
- Empirical support for improved symptomology and well-being
- The latest research on therapists who practice mindfulness
- Your mindfulness practice and how you can embody mindfulness
- Situations that may contraindicate applying mindfulness in session
- Research limitations
Easy to Use Strategies to Enhance Motivation in Therapy
Deepen the Therapeutic Relationship:
- Mindfulness vocabulary
- Visuals and metaphors to explain mindfulness
- Motivate clients with neuroplasticity
Build Presence, Trust and Empathetic Connection with Clients
Teach Mindfulness to Clients:
- Overcoming barriers
- Affect regulation techniques for therapist and client
- Strategies to create empathetic connection
- Exercises to build clients trust in themselves
Formal and Informal Mindfulness Practices
Group Therapy vs. Individual Sessions
- Tips for teaching clients about the senses and awareness
- Strategies to shift from “Automatic Pilot”
- Skill building interventions to increase responsiveness & reduce reactivity
- Strategies to cultivate attunement
- Approaches for deepened experience of mindfulness
- Brief and other informal practices
- How to adapt practices to special populations
Anxiety and Stress:
- Effectiveness of group vs. individual mindfulness
- How to set up and conduct a mindfulness group
- Screening for individual goodness of fit
- Encouraging client buy-in and commitment to practice
- Mindfulness interventions specifically designed for groups
Mindfulness Interventions to Relax the Body and Mind
Mindfulness for Trauma:
- Breathing practices that break the rumination cycle
- Guided visualizations to lower the stress response
- Movement strategies
- Multi-sensory regulation techniques
- Mindfully reduce the intensity of panic attacks
Disempower Intrusive Thoughts
Using Mindfulness in Depression Treatment
- Muscle tension releasing – exercises to counter fight or flight
- Guided meditations to disempower intrusive thoughts
- Grounding exercises and sample scripts
Mindfulness for Addictions: Break the Habit Loop
- Recognize self-criticism and respond with self-love
- Manage negative self-talk with awareness of thoughts
- Meditations to boost well-being
Mindful Anger: Breathing and Self-Soothing Techniques
- Awareness vs. autopilot -- relapse prevention
- Mindfulness for triggers
- Emotional regulation for cravings
Mindfulness, Diversity, & Cultural Humility
- Breathe through anger
- Distraction and grounding techniques
- Self-soothe with calming words and imagery
Mindfully Conquer Compassion Fatigue
- Adapt mindfulness experiences with cultural sensitivity
- Assess appropriateness of mindfulness interventions for individuals
- Negotiate the treatment plan
- Right here/right now – stay in the moment to reduce anxieties
- Effective and healthy ways to manage your emotions
- Change limiting stories about caring for yourself
- Release the negative – 3 steps to countering negativity bias
- Social Workers
- Marriage and Family Therapists
- Addiction Counselors
- Case Managers
- School Counselors
- Other Mental Health Professionals
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