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ASU poised to contribute to mindfulness movement with research, collaboration.
May 4, 2017

ASU's Chief Well-Being Officer Teri Pipe establishes Center for Mindfulness, Compassion and Resilience

Standing at the front of a large lecture hall as hundreds of college students streamed in with their books, bags and devices, headphones still in their ears, something dawned on William Heywood. They were distracted from the moment they came in the room.

Heywood, assistant director of The Design School at ASU, began starting each class with five minutes of what he called “centering.” Five quiet minutes where students were asked to unplug, breathe deeply and be present in the moment.

After doing this for a while, Heywood said he noticed class engagement and performance improved. He called it centering, but many may know it as mindfulness.

Over the past decade, it has become a buzzword with the rise in popularity of such practices as yoga, tai chi and meditation. The New York Times regularly reports on it, it’s being taught to kids as young as preschool and the U.S. Army has adapted it into its training.

But what is mindfulness, and why is it becoming the zeitgeist of the 2010s?

“Mindfulness is a skill set, and it means the ability to pay attention, with intention, to the present moment,” said Teri PipePipe is also dean of ASU's College of Nursing and Health Innovation and a research professor., ASU's chief well-being officer. “We are living in a society that is characterized by uncertainty, and there are lots of pulls and tugs to our attention and … multiple stimuli coming at us from multiple channels.

“Learning this skill set, learning to pay intentional attention to whatever is in front of us in the present moment will help all of us cope much better as a society.”

On Wednesday evening, Pipe welcomed deans, faculty, students and community members — about 175 in all — to the grand opening of ASU’s Center for Mindfulness, Compassion and Resilience.

The event took place at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix and featured demonstrations of various mindfulness practices, including yoga, tai chi/qigong, Tibetan singing bowls and interactive art.

Video by Ken Fagan/ASU Now 

Surrounded by the natural desert landscape, ASU Research Professor Linda Larkey stood calmly with her eyes closed as she slowly raised and then lowered her arms. A small breeze fluttered the leaves on the tree behind her and glasses clinked in the background, but she was unfazed as she began turning rhythmically from side to side.

Larkey is a practitioner of qigong, similar to yoga in its focus on posture and coordinated, fluid movements. She studies how such mind-body methods can alleviate symptoms in cancer survivors. Along with the calming effects of mindfulness, Larkey said, “there’s a whole cascade of changes in the body’s ability to make its own medicine.”

The center will bring together researchers like Larkey, as well as practitioners and educators across disciplines at ASU to collaborate, study and spread ideas about mindfulness, compassion and resilience throughout the university and surrounding community.

Six years ago when Pipe came to ASU from the Mayo Clinic, she discovered a number of university faculty already immersed in the mindfulness field. She felt a sense of personal responsibility to connect them, and did so with a potluck at her house. The guest list grew from 20 to more than 100, and Pipe decided it was time to formalize things. She put together a proposal for the center last summer, and now it’s a reality.

“The president, the provost, other deans, all university leadership have been phenomenally supportive,” Pipe said. “ASU has this reservoir of expertise and motivation and desire to use mindfulness as scientists and educators. … So [this center is] connecting people around these concepts, and then just amplifying the work.”

Members of the community have also been supportive of the initiative.

Last year, Mike and Cindy Watts made a $1 million commitment to help launch the center. Their generous donation contributed to Campaign ASU 2020, a campus-wide effort to raise at least $1.5 billion.

Pipe has a grand vision for the center, one that will ingrain the ideas of mindfulness, compassion and resilience into the culture of the university, in the same way that sustainability and innovation are.

“So much so,” she said, “that it’s just part of the fabric of ASU.”

 

Top photo: ASU Research Professor Linda Larkey, a practitioner of qigong, leads a group through the moves at the grand opening of ASU's Center for Mindfulness, Compassion and Resilience at the Desert Botanical Garden Wednesday evening. The new center was inspired by Teri Pipe, dean of the College of Nursing and Health Innovation and the university's chief well-being officer, and began as group meetings with 20 people at her home. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

 
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ASU's adult speech and language programs meet critical needs

Millions live with speech and language disorders; ASU programs can help.
May 10, 2017

Imagine going to Starbucks every morning and ordering a drink you don’t want because the one you do want is too hard to say. Imagine interviewing for a job when you can’t remember certain words. Imagine walking out of a summer movie with friends and not being able to express your opinion because you can’t keep up with their conversation.

These are very real situations for millions of Americans who live with speech and language disorders, and they can be even more frustrating for those who don’t have the tools to deal with them.

Kelly Ingram and Karen Gallagher, clinical associate professors in ASU’s Department of Speech and Hearing Science, have heard about such situations from clients at the department’s Speech and Language Clinic. The clinic offers two intensive summer programs for adults with aphasiaAphasia is the loss of ability to understand or express speech, caused by brain damage. and stuttering: Aphasia Communication Effectiveness (ACE) and Intensive Summer in Stuttering Therapy (InSIST).

Many of the clients they see at the clinic are no longer eligible to receive services through insurance. “So this is an inexpensive way for them to maintain their communication skills and have opportunities to communicate,” Gallagher said.

Another function of the programs is that they serve to train ASU speech and hearing graduate students for careers in the field. The graduate clinicians plan and oversee group sessions under the direction of ASHA-certifiedASHA, or the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, is a professional association for speech-language pathologists, audiologists and speech, language and hearing scientists in the United States and internationally. ASU faculty, including Ingram and Gallagher.

According to Ingram, who also serves as director of the Speech and Language Clinic, social isolation is a real concern for people who have been living with speech and language disorders. It’s something that the aphasia program especially addresses, with a focus on group-based conversation.

ACE is a four-week program wherein clients can attend as many as four or as few as two, three-hour sessions each week. After an initial evaluation of clients’ needs, abilities and interests, topics of discussion are chosen.

In the past, sessions have incorporated book club and movie discussions, and even a classic car show in the parking lot outside the clinic where clients were able to chat with the car owners and ask questions.

woman in white coat leading group discussion

Director of ASU's Speech and Language Clinic Kelly Ingram leads a group discussion with participants of one of the clinic's adult-based programs. Photo courtesy Lucy Wolski

 

“[The programs are] really driven by the people, the men and women who come here, and their interests,” Gallagher said, “and those can shift from year to year. So we have ideas, materials and resources, but it’s driven by the individuals who come.”

Ryan Calvert has been attending the aphasia clinic for several years since suffering a stroke in September of 2006. He went from not being able to remember simple articles like “he” and “she” to being able to get his thoughts out in a “smooth and succinct” way.

Calvert appreciates that the clinicians take into account his and other clients’ interests.

“What we really like is variety, so we conveyed that to the clinicians, and they took that suggestion and made a lot of changes that helped,” he said. He also appreciates their hands-off approach. “The clinicians kind of step back and let us just talk amongst ourselves, and that’s beautiful. Then, when they see there’s something lacking or there is a disconnect, they intervene accordingly, and that’s really helpful.”

InSIST consists of two, two-hour sessions per week, for four weeks, where clients meet one-on-one with clinicians for focused therapy as well as group interactions. It’s different than some traditional approaches to stuttering therapy, Gallagher said, because it’s condensed, time-wise, and therefore more intensive.

The adult-specific programs are also especially helpful to the ASU grad students who run them. While they get plenty of experience with kids through the several child-based programs offered by the Speech and Language Clinic, such as the Summer Program for Elementary Literacy and Language and the Pediatric Communication Clinic, the aphasia and stuttering clinics help them to get experience with adults.

“Our students need to be trained across the lifespan, from birth to death,” Ingram said.

Speech pathology grad student Taylor Lorengo has led both children’s and adults’ sessions. She said the adult programs have helped her appreciate clients as individuals with specific needs.

“That was something I really had to check in with, remembering they’re not kids,” she said. “The principles are similar but you just have to keep in mind the type of client that you have.”

Lorengo will graduate in May of 2018 and hopes to eventually work in acute care.

“You can see how beneficial these programs are to the people who are in them,” she said. “A lot of times out in the world, they don’t have people trained like we are to help them communicate. The time they get to come in and get someone like us to help them be successful is huge.”