Mindfulness in Speech Language Therapy
Updated: Mar 5, 2022
Months ago, we began implementing practice-wide introductory activities with all of our clients at the start of every session. We chose a variety of activities that offer a balance of mindful reflection, humor, and fun: a round of deep breathing, attempting a mindful minute of silence and stillness, stating an affirmation, and attempting to solve the joke of the week.
Over the next few months, this blog will delve into each warm-up activity, it’s purpose, it’s benefits for your child, and ideas for carrying each practice over in your homes. If you missed last month’s post, we discussed the benefits of deep breathing and how we incorporate deep breathing as a part of holistic speech-language therapy sessions. This month, our topic is “the mindful minute.”
Mindfulness is a pillar of the work that we do at Circles of Communication. Many peer-reviewed studies support mindfulness as a tool for stress reduction, increasing self-compassion and emotional intelligence, and cultivating a moment-to-moment, non judgmental viewpoint that contributes to better decision-making, perspective-taking, memory, and more. Let’s discuss these benefits in connection with holistic speech and language therapy.
As we discussed last month, reduced stress is essential for optimal learning and long-term retention of new skills. Mindfulness practices reduce stress, and therefore are well-suited for use with every client regardless of their skill level or therapeutic goals.
Increasing self-compassion and emotional intelligence are extremely important for your child’s developing self-awareness, particularly when facing learning challenges, mistakes, big emotions, and even failure while communicating. The brain and body are strongly connected, and using mindfulness as a means to increase our clients’ awareness of body sensations, emotions, and the best ways to independently achieve whole-body comfort and regulation sets them up for success while working to meet their goals.
Another benefit of emotional intelligence and self-awareness? Empathy! Empathy is our ability to understand and share others’ emotions and it’s a driving force in building perspective-taking skills. For many of our neurodiverse clients, understanding multiple perspectives is crucial for mastering interpersonal communication. Furthermore, the more self-compassion and self-awareness our clients gain, the better they are able to take ownership of their progress towards communication goals and increase their intrinsic motivation. Thanks again, mindfulness!
Being present and examining situations with a nonjudgmental vantage point is challenging. It’s something we continue to work on as speech language pathologists and as humans, so we don’t expect our clients to become mindfulness experts overnight! In practice, we use something called “The Mindful Minute” or, to some clients, “The Minute of Silence.” Put simply, we attempt to sit in stillness and silence with our clients for one minute, taking notice of what is happening in that moment. For some clients, a full 60 seconds is a breeze, and for others, we are still building up to an attempt at “The Mindful Minute” by narrating and modeling mindful practices and vocabulary in session activities. We meet clients where they are and encourage self-awareness and present-moment thinking in a way that fits their individual needs.
If you’d like to incorporate mindfulness practices at home, we’ve got a few suggestions! Perhaps you try your own “Mindful Minute” during a quiet moment at home, such as nightly reading or in the car on the way to school. Even simpler, challenge your child to notice one thing for each of the five senses while completing an automatic activity, such as brushing their teeth or eating dinner. You can make this activity more engaging and playful by prompting your child with questions like, “I wonder if you heard anything silly while you were brushing your teeth?!” Yoga is another wonderful mindfulness practice, and there are many kid-friendly videos for free on YouTube. Additionally, this article contains a list of books to introduce mindfulness and meditation, and there’s something for every age!
Mindfulness offers many benefits when paired with communication goals in therapy and at home. Regardless of what method you choose to incorporate them, mindfulness practices will offer benefits to the whole family