for Debra Burdick, LCSW, BCN,
International Expert on Mindfulness and ADHD
aka The Brain Lady at deb@theBrainLady.com
Please talk briefly about your background, where you are located, and what your current activities are.
I am an international expert on Mindfulness and ADHD, an award winning #1 best-selling author, a licensed clinical social worker, board certified Neurofeedback practitioner and online expert at SelfGrowth.com located in Estero, FL and Enfield, CT (summers). I recently retired from private practice to focus on writing and speaking. I help people improve their lives using Mindfulness. I am a frequent speaker for PESI and other organizations, teaching workshops on Mindfulness Skills as well as ADHD to psychotherapists, teachers and other helping professionals, nationally. I also provide Mindfulness skills training to business leaders and executives to improve their leadership and business success.
I am the author of 4 books including: Mindfulness for Teens with ADHD, ADHD: Non-medication Treatments and Skills for Children and Teens (Benjamin Franklin GOLD winner in psychology), Mindfulness Skills Workbook for Clinicians and Clients and Mindfulness Skills for Kids and Teens. I am currently working on a new book Mindfulness for Kids with ADHD as well as a Mindfulness for Kids Card Deck and Card Games.
My workshops include: 100 Brain-changing Mindfulness Techniques to Integrate into Clinical Practice, Mindfulness Toolkit for Kids and Teens, and Childhood ADHD: Advanced Non-medication Treatments and Strategies that Change the Brain.
Why did you write the books and create the CDs/mp3s? Who are they intended for?
I wrote the books about ADHD to provide practical guidance to adults with ADHD and parents of children with ADHD so their journey can be successful and easier. The books also provide essential information to therapists who treat clients with ADHD. They provide a holistic approach to insure readers get an accurate diagnosis, understand a variety of treatment options, and have the skills and resources needed to manage and treat symptoms of ADHD in all areas of their life.
My Mindfulness books are all workbooks that provide tools, techniques, activities and worksheets that help people learn and use Mindfulness skills to feel better and function better in their lives.
The Mindfulness CDs/mp3s provide guided meditations to decrease stress, increase the ability to stay present, and to improve concentration and health.
My latest book, a #1 New Release, is Mindfulness for Teens with ADHD. It is written directly to teens with ADHD, their parents, therapists, ADHD coaches and teachers.
Both best-sellers, the Mindfulness Skills Workbook for Clinicians and Clients. 111 Tools, Techniques, Activities and Worksheets and the Mindfulness Skills for Kids and Teens Workbook for Clinicians and Clients are written for a target audience of psychotherapists, teachers, parents and ADHD coaches to use with clients, patients, or students but anyone interested in learning mindfulness will find them helpful.
My book ADHD: Non-medication Treatments and Skills for Children and Teens is a Benjamin Franklin GOLD award winner and is written for clinicians, teachers, parents, ADHD coaches and clients to help children and teens thrive with ADHD with or without medication.
The Mindfulness Toolkit CD/mp3 provides 10 meditations that teach a variety of mindfulness practices. It is used by individuals as well as by therapists with their clients. Mindfulness Toolkit for Kids mp3 provides 11 guided meditations for kids. It is a great way to introduce mindfulness to children. Meditations for Concentration CD/mp3 contains nine short vignettes that guide kids to use their imagination to practice concentrating and be more present.
What attracted you to work in mental health helping others?
During my 20’s I sought the help of a psychotherapist who helped me truly change my life for the better. I felt that if I could help even one person as much as my therapist helped me, then it would all be worthwhile. My own healing journey through a chronic illness led me to learn many alternative healing modalities. I incorporated Mindfulness which significantly improved pain and healing, and then Neurofeedback which resolved the chronic condition. These techniques permanently eradicated the pain I endured for years.
I used Neurofeedback to help my daughter with ADHD eliminate the need for medications and graduate from college with 3 years on the Dean’s list – medication free. I now feel very grateful to have helped hundreds of thousands of people through psychotherapy, Neurofeedback, Mindfulness, workshops, books, and CDs/mp3s, teletrainings, and DVDs.
What makes your material and your workshops different from other material and workshops in the market place on these subjects?
My background and experience are unique. I have specialized training in Neurofeedback, Neurophysiology of the Brain, Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, and Mindfulness, as well as depression, anxiety, relationships, and addictions. My own journey introduced me to numerous treatment modalities and taught me the value of a holistic approach to healing. My work provides a variety of practical, holistic options for healing that are effective, practical, and easy to use.
I have taught mindfulness skills to clients for over 25 years both in mental health agencies, private practice and in an Intensive Outpatient Program. My clients have taught me so much about what works and what doesn’t.
What is a Mindfulness ToolKit?
A Mindfulness Toolkit is a collection of mindfulness skills that can be incorporated into daily life. They include practices such as awareness of breath, tasks, intuition, and ‘remembered wellness’ as well as core sitting meditations. They can be used to increase self-awareness and the ability to be present in the moment, to induce the ‘relaxation response’, to increase stress resiliency, to improve concentration, sleep, depression, and addictive behaviors, and to improve physical and emotional health.
What are some examples of the Mindfulness you are focused on?
One basic Mindfulness skill is called Awareness of Breath. This involves setting the intention to pay attention to the breath without changing it. Any time the mind wanders, just bring your attention back to the feel of the breath as it flows in and out of you. This can be combined with Relaxation Breathing which involves inhaling through the nose to the count of four and exhaling through the mouth to the count of eight. This breathing technique invokes the relaxation response as it calms the physiology of the brain and body.
Another skill is Mindfulness of Tasks which involves setting an intention to pay attention to a specific task and can be used throughout the day while performing any task. Any time you notice your mind is wandering and is not paying attention to the task, gently bring your attention back to the task. This could be while driving, doing the dishes, taking a shower, attending a meeting, or doing homework. It helps you stay present, on purpose, in the moment, non-judgmentally. It relieves stress, improves concentration, and reduces energy drain.
What is neurofeedback and how do you use it in your psychotherapy practice?
Neurofeedback is a form of biofeedback where information about a person’s brainwaves is provided to them visually and auditorally via a video game. There are a number of different types of Neurofeedback available. Most are based on the theory of operant conditioning in which the client is rewarded with beeps, points, and game play when they are changing their brainwave patterns to healthier patterns. Visit http://thebrainlady.com/services/neurofeedback-and-self-regulation/ for more detailed information about how Neurofeedback works.
Although now retired from private practice, I incorporated Neurofeedback into my psychotherapy practice to help clients improve symptoms of poor brain self-regulation such as ADHD, depression, anxiety, sleep, TBI, anger, PTSD, and more. I combined psychotherapy with Neurofeedback, continuously assessing the client’s symptoms and progress, and teaching them cognitive behavioral and mindfulness skills. This was tailored to the specific needs of each client.
You feel that mindfulness practices work for you and for others. Why?
First, the mindfulness research is compelling. Regular mindfulness practice provides positive benefits for the brain, mind, body, and behavior. Second, I incorporated mindfulness in my own life over thirty years ago to help me deal with and heal from a chronic illness. Third, I have seen a multitude of positive changes in child, teen and adult clients who learned to incorporate mindfulness in their lives including improved emotional regulation, less depression and anxiety, better sleep, decreased pain, improved effectiveness at work, overall sense of well-being and improved quality of life.
In what ways will your self-help material help others?
My self-help material provides step-by-step guidance and skills that people can incorporate into their everyday lives. The ADHD material gives specific information to help people be more successful at school, at work, at home, and in their relationships. The Mindfulness material provides practical skills designed to increase self-awareness and mindfulness in daily living which has been shown to improve depression, anxiety, concentration, sleep, well-being, quality of life, addictions, and mental and physical health.