Podcast #5: Mindfulness for Teens with Dr. Dzung Vo

Dr. Dzung Vo pursued his medical residency in the field of pediatrics and later specialized in adolescent medicine. He currently works at the British Columbia Children’s Hospital where his clinical and research work revolve around fostering resilience among young adults and strengthening their capacity to overcome adversity. He has developed several mindfulness-based curricula including Mindful Awareness and Resilience Skills for Adolescents program (MARS-A) for teens with chronic medical conditions and Mindful Healing for health care professionals. He also plays an active role as a member of the board of directors for the Mindfulness in Education Network (MIEN), a community of educators collaborating on mindful approaches to education for young learners.

We discuss:

  • Mindfulness as a tool for managing stress, overcoming difficulties, and developing coping skills among teens (01:13)
  • Tailoring the practice through use of more accessible language, shorter sessions, and discussions of the direct applicability of mindfulness to specific situations (test anxiety, familial conflict, intimate relationships) (03:46)
  • Effects of mindfulness on the developing brain (06:13)
    • the role of neural networks in adolescence
    • hypotheses about how mindfulness may strengthen the neural networks connecting the prefrontal cortex and regulatory areas to the limbic areas where emotions originate 
  • A general approach to mindfulness for teens (09:49)
    • The MARS-A (Mindful Awareness and Resilience Skills for Adolescents) curriculum for 15-19 years old
    • The role of group teaching and creating a mindful community among teens
    • The role of formal meditations practised as a group (sitting, walking, body scan, mindful movement) combined with inquiry and check-ins (sharing circles on the topic of participants’ experience with formal and informal practises)
  • Mindfulness in education (17:29)
    • MIEN (mindfulness in education network): an international mindful community of educators where best practises for bringing mindfulness into education are discussed
  • Building a therapeutic alliance with young adults (20:41)
  • Incorporating mindfulness into clinical practice with patients (24:35)
    • having your own practice
    • developing a community
    • being authentic by teaching patients those meditation practises that you are experiencing or learning yourself

Interested in learning more? Follow Dr. Vo and the work he is doing:

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