Join us for a conversation with Rick and Doris about collaborative problem solving, renewing emotions, the Heart Math Institute, and their experience speaking around the world.

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More about Our Guests

  • Rick has a master’s in Clinical Psychology and Doris a master’s in Special Education
  • Both have a career of more than 20 years in education, with a focus on serving children and teens who struggle with learning, behavioral, emotional and mental health challenges
  • Both are Certified HeartMath Trainers, including “The Resilient Heart: Trauma-Sensitive Practices” and providing “The Resilience Advantage” which is used to train professionals from the medical, business, education, professional athletics, first responder, and military fields, just to name a few 
  • Both are also Certified Trauma & Resilience Practitioners (CTRP) by the National Institute for Trauma and Loss in Children, and Certified Trainers in the Collaborative Problem Solving Approach, a model out of Massachusetts General Hospital at Harvard’s Department of Child Psychiatry designed to build lagging neurocognitive skills in children and youth who struggle in school and at home
  • Rick and Doris train both educational and mental health agencies and present at conferences across the country on topics such as: trauma-informed care, personal resilience for staff and parents, self-regulation for both staff and students, and neurobiologically grounded FBA’s and Behavior Support Plans
  • Rick and Doris now lead a first-of-its-kind “Connected Community” for educators and mental health professionals focused on trauma-informed practices, and creating connection, support and shared learning for the adults serving youth in a variety of capacities

Transcript

 

Patrick

Welcome Rick. Welcome Doris.

 

Tom

Welcome.

 

Doris

Good morning. Good morning, guys. Great to be here with you.

 

Rick

Yeah, it’s awesome to be here with you guys this morning.

 

Patrick

So let’s just start with what the areas of specialty are for Bowman consulting.

 

Doris

Well, I would just say that our specialty is really bringing the concepts of trauma and toxic stress as well as resilience, but trauma and toxic stress effects on the brain, nervous system and body to people in all sorts of professions in ways that make it applicable. We primarily focus a great deal on trauma-informed schools, with a particular emphasis on creating actionable systems and practices that can reduce challenging behavior and helped to heal trauma for children who’ve experienced trauma impacts. Additionally resilience and self-care training for the staff. And so really working to ensure that those who are serving youth and adults with trauma or behavioral challenges are able to sustain, generate and sustain their own wellness, and then collaborative problem solving, which is an innovative approach for serving us with chronic challenging behavior. And so those are primarily the three areas that we specialize in.

 

Patrick

How did you find one another?

 

Doris

Well, we just celebrated our 25th anniversary this year.

 

Patrick and Tom

Congratulations.

 

Doris

Thank you. Thank, thank you. And our journey together began in bodies where we first met, and so after many years at both of us working in mental health and education, we really shared a vision of working together that as a team and really wanting to bring revolutionary solutions to staff who work with youth who are suffering the most.Both of us worked with young people in our various roles that really have been through a lot of trauma and toxic stress, and so we just felt like we had a lot more to bring to the broader world of folks serving… Serving folks with trauma.

Rick

And then the more we dug into trauma-informed care from a neuroscience perspective, we recognize that many of the traditional models of approaching emotional and behavioral challenges were not resulting in desired outcomes, and often they also hold the potential to lead to re-traumatization of the child or the adult. We recognize that we could bring practical, powerful solutions to professionals that would help them to understand what the most current neuroscience and coherence research tells us about like trauma shows up the way that it does, and how to effectively and compassionately address it.

 

Patrick

So you had referred to, before Roman consulting became a thing, that you had worked with children affected by trauma.What were your professions or experiences that kind of led to your interest in this field?

 

Doris

Do you want to share here first…

 

Rick

Well, first of all, I was… As a child, I went through significant developmental trauma myself, and so I spent many years… I spent many years as a psychologist and I probably read every self-help book that you could find, and did everything that I could do to study to really understand trauma, and then I began practicing in clinical practice, and I worked with children and adults, and I was focused on two things, shame and trauma, and how they related to each other, but we didn’t have a lot of information at the time about trauma and really the physiological processes of trauma, and so basically I started working… I continue to work with children and adults, and then I shifted into becoming a professional administrator, and I always was just drawn to those kids in the school system that we’re experiencing a lot of trauma, and how could we help those kids both both emotionally and academically to do better. And then it just… Long story short is just everywhere that we travel to, I just saw trauma everywhere, because we did a lot of consulting, I did a lot of consulting and Doris some as well in other countries, and we saw a trauma through everywhere that we went. And so I continued to do a lot of counseling. I continued to work in the schools with kids and try to set up systems for kids that are suffering a lot of trauma, and then finally I ended up just… There’s so much more I could tell you, but finally ended up working as a behavior consultant and a treatment… Basically, it was a school for kids that were going to… That were a part of the school district, but they were kids that had multiple foster care placements and I was the main behavior consultant for that school, and that’s when I really said, you know what, we’ve got to really figure out how that we can use the new Neural Sciences coming out to really help and support these kids and heal trauma.

 

Doris

And my background really has been primarily all in education. I did actually own a commercial fishing business in Alaska for 10 years prior to that, but then entered what I thought was going to be an elementary education career. I was going to be a second grade teacher, and all my student teaching was in second grade, we moved to a little town in Southern Oregon, Rick took a job there, and I walked in the district office to sign up to be a substitute teacher because school started in two weeks, so surely they had no jobs. And the next thing I knew, I was interviewing in the special ed director’s office, and I was a middle school special education teacher.

 

Patrick

Wow.

 

Doris

And so, yeah, and so that really changed the trajectory of my career, and so after four years of teaching and just a typical Special Education classroom serving kids mostly with learning disabilities, we then moved. Rick took a position as an assistant principal in another city here in Oregon, and I ended up accepting a position to run a middle school program for children with emotional, behavioral or mental health disabilities, and that was a small self-contained program, and from that point on for about 20 years, that is mostly what I did. I ran programs for kids with emotional behavioral challenges at all different levels, and then became a behavior consultant across a district, so then I was much more involved in doing evaluations as well as designing programs for teams for kids that really struggle. And so out of that really began self-studying training, seeking out answers for why a lot of the conventional approaches that we were using with these kids were not working, and that’s really what has led us down this road. I think for both of us, it’s been seeing how much of the traditional methods haven’t worked, or a little part of them might work, but then it kind of falls apart for various reasons, and so it was in seeking out the answers and solutions that led us down this path. And we’ve always had a desire to really travel and speak together, and we knew that we had that ability to bring something special to people, which I think is just a lot of heart and our passion for this word.

Patrick

So I do wanna get into your travel and your international speaking, but I did wanna ask, both of you had mentioned sort of traditional approaches to trauma and the kind of neuroscience that debunked some of those traditional methods. Can you give us an example of what kind of is in that traditional bucket as opposed to something that is neuroscience-informed?

 

Doris

Well, I can share one. I think it’s interesting because when you think of traditional approach, typically it’s not a traditional approach to trauma, is a traditional approach to the behavior. And so it’s folks being really focused on the behavior as opposed to the fact that this isn’t necessarily the child making a bad choice, or it isn’t necessarily that… A lot of times our traditional methods have looked at… Well, they dug a little deeper and said, Okay, what’s the child trying to get… Or they’re trying to avoid something. And that’s often true, they may be trying to get something or avoid something, but there’s often a much, much deeper set of circumstances going on where it has to do with nervous system regulation, has to do with coherence in the brain and body, and a whole lot of things that when we start looking at, okay, what we’re addressing here is not a behavior, it’s not chair throwing, it’s not cussing, it’s not running out of the room, what we’re addressing here is a nervous system that’s out of sync and dis-regulated and the child has no other way to discharge that other than what we’re seeing in their behavior.

 

Rick

Yeah, and for me, I think it was, to add to that, as a therapist and working in therapy and using traditional approaches like cognitive behavior therapy and things like that, we were seeing people get better, but the thing about it was, is it was like, it doesn’t feel like we’re really seeing them heal from the trauma. And I think that what the neuroscience really directs is at right now is that trauma is primarily a physiological process or a problem, you could say, And secondarily a cognitive issue, and so if you don’t work on changing the physiology, if you don’t get at that physiology, that trauma that resonates in the body and the brain that you… That autonomic nervous system. If you don’t affect that and make the changes in that and are working on that, then you’re probably never going to help the child or adult heal from trauma. So this is not a negative toward cognitive behavior therapy or anything like that, is just that we really have to also address the physiology, this physiological processes that are primary in trauma.

 

Tom

I’m curious about two things. First of all, that makes me wonder, so of practical recommendations, what you found to be, let’s say, the two or three most effective things that people can do to regulate the effective stress on their bodies, and the second one, which we can answer later is when I was noticing you talk about staff that work with youth, and I would like to actually to know if that includes staff, like people who serve lunch or keep the schools clean, because is that a part of the educational world that gets tended to.

 

Doris

Well, if we get our way, it does… Yeah, when we think of staff that are serving you and even adults, because many of the things that have started out as this is an approach to help kids in schools with trauma and Avid, etcetera, have now expanded to the adult world, we’ve done pilot programs with State adult developmental disability services with their stabilization and crisis unit with adults with significant impact, so it really stretches to a broad scope of who is being served by this and how it can be really effective and…

 

Tom

That’s wonderful.

 

Doris

Yeah, it was an amazing project. I wish we had an hour just for that, but we saw amazing results. But yes, to when we go into a school, we always advocate to train everyone, and the reason for that is, and you’re saying, What are the most effective approaches… You’re pointing directly at that because really one of the most effective approaches is small doses of positive relational interaction or what we call positive relational stress, and so what it is, is that the more you can have all of the adults that are interacting with a child throughout their day, using particular approaches that involve things like empathy and neutral statements or questions and curiosity, things that are non-threatening and create a felt sense of safety, and then the child has these many, many small interactions throughout the day that is effectively re-patterning their… What we call their stress response system or… It’s their autonomic nervous system. Longer sessions in schools in the past, we tended to do a 45-minute social skills group, for example, and there’s nothing wrong with doing those, I think kids learn good vocabulary, they learn good ways to think about things, they learn ways of understanding things, but when it comes to dealing with the activation of stress or trauma in their body, it’s the small little doses of a one-minute interaction or a 15-second interaction, or an adult coming up and instead of going, What are you doing? You need to get back to class. They’re saying, Hey, it looks like there’s something that’s making it hard for you to go to class. Can you help me understand what’s going on? And so when you’ve got the custodians, the secretaries, the kitchen people, the teachers, everyone using that, then that child has a high chance of getting many doses throughout the day.

 

Tom

I imagine also that if people are practicing that really, and if the perhaps would start to do it among each other, and that that would also have a positive effect on the school as a whole.

 

Doris

Absolutely, absolutely.

 

Rick

Tom let me see if I can answer this in another way as well, I think your question was something about What can people do for themselves?

 

Tom

As I’ve written about trauma and resilience and education myself, I hear as a refrain often that teachers, trauma and secondary stress is under-appreciated.

 

Rick

Well, we just did a training yesterday on this, so basically, oftentimes what happens with teachers and what happens with anybody that’s in a helping profession is that we go into that profession with this care, we work out of an emotional, or you could say, or a sense of care and belief of care. And so what we talk about is that oftentimes what happens is that the individual slips into what we call over-care, and that’s where we’re talking about, they can experience burnout, vicarious trauma. There’s really no way that you can work, we believe with individuals that have trauma without being affected in some way by that. So what can we do for ourselves? Well, what we can do is create more renewing emotions, because we know that every emotion that we have affects our autonomic nervous system, so if most of us, many of us, maybe all of us, to some extent, experience, we oftentimes sort of set this baseline in our brain or stress, anxiety, worry and fear. And so when we can create more renewing emotions such as gratitude, care, compassion, love, then what we do is when we can create that every time that we are creating those renewing emotions, those positive emotions, what we’re really working on is our autonomic nervous system and our brain and that part of our brain, as you guys all know, called the amygdala to really re-pattern or create a new baseline for dealing for working with people with other people with trauma as well as all situations in our life. And so the more renewing emotions that we create, the more renewing emotions that we feel, and we are actually in effect now living more in the present and not living out of those past emotions of anxiety and fear. And what I’m talking to you right now is out of the Heart Math training any that we do.

 

Patrick

So we had a conversation with Jodi Johnson in a previous podcast, and we got to a point of the conversation where she was talking about the fact that there are some people… There are some children who are in a situation where they cannot escape the stretch or the trauma that they’re experiencing, and… So I’ll just put that aside for a moment, and Tom knows this about me, but every time I try and understand something, I try and put it in terms of the viticulture or how great vines grow. So it sounds like what you’re saying now is that the autonomic nervous system of a human has all sorts of things that are kind of coming after it. Some of those are bad things and some of them are good things. So when a plant like a vine, for example, the real goal and keeping it healthy is to get good bacteria and fungi around the roots that kind of choke out some of the bad things because we can’t really control 100% all of the bad things, and if we try and get rid of them. We get rid of some of the good stuff too. Is that an apt analogy? Am I understanding that correctly?

 

Rick

I believe it is, I really like it. Because life is going to… Life is going to throw everything at us, and we know we’re gonna have difficulties, but how do we respond to those? Do respond to those difficulties out of… Does our nervous system respond to those difficulties out of past patterns, like this is the way… It’s like a thermostat. This is the way that I always respond. The body is always trying to create homeostasis, the autonomic nervous system is always trying to create balance homeostasis, and so if I… Now what I do, let’s say as a child, as every time that I come to school, I feel fear and anxiety. And so I pattern that response so much that now good things could actually be happening at school, but I still have the same response because it’s a pattern in my nervous system…

 

Tom

I lived an experience like that. And that I was in the school, you might say from age 3 to 46 when I stopped being a professor. I got a long time nervous at 11 in the morning and I thought, Why is this? And then it continued after my job, and I realized it was because for 43 years, life had sort of begun in earnest at 11 o’clock, that was when I chose to have my first class, or it was the end of the morning period or that was when I started to teach. And even after the stressor was taken away, my body continued to react to that, it was like a Pavlovian experience. And diminish over time, I think, is your body realizes that the stressor is no longer there.

 

Doris

To speak to what both of you have just said, I think this is one of the reasons why we are so passionate about bringing the Heart Math trainings that we’re doing in the Heart Math approach and even definition of resilience is very proactive. So thinking about what you said about the grape vine, Patrick, and what you just described to is that the Heart Math definition of resilience is the capacity to prepare for, adapt and recover from situations of stress, challenge, trauma or adversity, and so it’s very proactive. It’s this idea that if we can begin, for instance, actively generating positive emotions at 10:45, Tom, and began actively… And there’s ways of doing this where we know that the heart is sending particular signals to the brain and the amygdala, and then it’s going to re-pattern that nervous system, and so for the kids that, yes, many of them are going to continue to be living in adverse circumstances and toxic stress, they can gradually proactively build the skills to where now they’re better able to just handle more adaptively what they’re faced with in one particular, might be, home setting and yet still come to school, and then shift and be able to be able to participate without feeling a sense of threat or a sense of feeling on edge.

 

Tom

How do you integrate that, which all makes really profound sense to me with the psycho-pharmaceudical help that students are given often nowadays, I remember when I was anxious. The first thing I heard from my psychologist was, you should take benzodiazepines, and I read about them, I was like, No, thank you. That many anti-anxiety medications and antidepressants and things like that are effective, is that something you have to take into account when you talk with people in schools. They’re both in some ways pointing in a similar problem or trying to address similar problems, but from very different and both physiologically, but one chemically and one behaviorally.

 

Rick

I think the way that we typically address it is that we don’t go against the use of medication, and that sometimes that can be very helpful, sometimes it could be helpful in terms of being able to even be able to access a certain technique or… That makes sense. Or to be able to learn a particular… Or build a particular neurocognitive skill in the brain, such as the ability to self-regulate to be able to adjust your emotional arousal, and that might take some medication, we see a lot of kids, of course, with ADHD, and oftentimes, they need that medication to be able to access, access the skill building that we’re talking about.

 

Doris

I’ve worked with a lot of families who were very resistant and had good reasons about feeling resistant about medication, but ultimately decided, Okay, we’re gonna try this for a little bit, it allowed the child to access the skill building process, and very quickly over time, we were able to then reduce that medication because now we fill the skills built, the self-regulation. It’s no longer needed.

 

Tom

That seems like a very holistic approach in a way where you try to combine tools that are available in the most effective way rather than having an ideology that prevents mixing that… That’s interesting, and it sounds like it’s working.

 

Doris

Yeah, I’ve seen it work really well.

 

Rick

So at 18 years old, I had high blood pressure, and that was because of the trauma that I had experienced as a child, and so I was put on blood pressure medication at 18, and just recently, I’ve been able to reduce my blood pressure medication, this is like 45, 50 years later. And the reason that I did that was working on my… Working on Heart Math techniques that allowed me to create more… Just it was working on my autonomic nervous system to the point where I was experiencing more positive emotions, more ease in my body, and I would do a technique, for example, go down, take my blood pressure and my blood pressure is basically returned to normal, and I’ve done everything over the years to be able to get it to return to normal, went to my doctor and said, You know, could we now take me off the medication? And he was like, Oh, and I told him the story I’m telling you guys right now. And he was like, Well, we better wait, we better wait a little bit on this and let’s take you off some of the medication, so I’m still on a little bit of medication right now, but I am basically, my blood pressure is phenomenal.

 

Doris

And this was at a time when his blood pressure was… I started having problems and spikes and the doctor actually wanted to increase the medication, so he just decided, No, we’re going a different route this time, and it worked. It was been amazing.

 

Patrick

So I wanted to go back real quick before we move on to maybe getting into Heart Math, and talk about some of the international speaking and consulting that you’ve done, I imagine speaking to different audiences in different countries, because the context is different, maybe the response has been different. So as someone has no experience in that, I’d love to hear about what it’s like to speak to audiences across the world.

 

Rick

First of all, I think the key to what has made these experiences so valuable and so well-received is that our focus has always been on meeting people where they’re at and take into account their culture, the cultural factors and beliefs that they have, as well as other factors that are relevant to them. I’m talking about Russia and Jamaica particularly, but I can tell you a little bit about my Russia experience, if you’d like.

 

Patrick

I would like that, yes.

 

Rick

While working at a community college in Alaska, I was presenting a series on shame, and I had a Russian citizen that was at the college on a Visa that was there, and she came up to me after the speaking engagement said, My people could really use this.And would you like to go to Russia? And she had connections with the Russian government in the Far East… The Russian Far East Region. And anyway, from that invitation, I eventually made three trips there, during which time I spoke on a broad range of topics related to mental health primarily, and from the Far East, I traveled to the west side of the country, near Moscow. And during that time, I was able to appear on radio television, and I presented a great deal on on mental health issues and consulting with mental health professionals, university instructors, leaders, teachers and even tribal leaders in the far east and other people as well. People were so… This was about 1992, 93, I think when I first went there. And the Russian people were so interested in what America was like, obviously. And how American psychology or American… How we did things differently in mental health in America than they did in Russia, and then of course, in terms of teaching and education, they were very, very interested in that, and I was really fortunate too to be able to work with some teachers over there. We were able to get them and some children and some Russian children to be able to come to Alaska to visit America and… If you can call Alaska America, but you know, it’s kind of a separate country by itself it… We’ve there a long time, but the thing of value is, is that we really… We really saw that we had so many similarities as a people now, and the people in Russia talked so much about how they saw us as just… You wanted what we… What we had.

 

Patrick

And were you being translated across these different channels?

 

Rick

I was being translated, and then I learned to speak some elementary, basic rush in myself. I could even get around a little bit and talk to people back or… But I almost always had an interpreter with me.

 

Patrick

Got it. And I can imagine early 90s in Russia, there is a lot of stress and some lingering trauma among the portion across the country. Did you notice… And you said that they kinda wanted to know what life was like in America, what American psychology looked like. Did you notice any differences in the their culture versus American culture had in how people responded to trauma, is this a case of people being people everywhere, or was it truly kind of a different experience.

 

Rick

I think it was more of a case, so people being people everywhere. The same types of things that… There was one woman that I was talking to and she said, I’ve never been able to really express my feelings, and she was an older woman, probably about the inner 70s, late 70s, and she said, You know, thank you for coming to this nursing home or where a mere came to, she says, I’ve never been able to have somebody that I could ask, I’ve always been interested in America, and she had been through tremendous amounts of trauma, and I’ve never been able to really talk to anybody about this, and so it was really heart-warming. And I just found that the people were, they were just so interested in our country and that we had so many commonalities, just as people… The same sort of problems many Russian children have been through child abuse, we know in our country, child abuse is a problem. The same sorts of issues that they had were very, very similar to what we had as Americans as well, except they had many, many more. The poverty was unbelievable everywhere that I went.

 

Doris

In Jamaica, we both did a lot of work in the area of counseling, did a lot of couples counseling and speaking on things like shame, and again, it was the same, it was the same that people are kind of dealing with the same struggles with fear, with shame, with the anxiety or those sorts of things, and again, lots of lots and lots of trauma there as well, and I think that regardless where we went, we just found that people are dealing with similar issues and problems in a variety of different forms, and… So for example, many of the challenges we see in today’s classroom or the same educators experience, no matter where they’re at.

 

Patrick

Right. You’ve mentioned a couple of times, the Heart Math Institute, and I just kind of wanted to get into what that is, what the organization is, and how Bowman Consulting relates with that institution.

 

Doris

Yeah, absolutely. So Heart Math is an approach to resilience wellness and performance, and it’s a heart Math Institute, and it’s been around for more than 30 years. They have a very substantial research arm, a non-profit arm of Heart Math, and both Rick and I have been certified trainers for a while now in being able to train their approach and what we do as opposed to… They have a structured training that we’re certified to train, but then we can also use the materials to integrate into any trainings that we do, and so what we have really chosen to do is to custom tailor trainings with Heart Math content and material and concepts to whatever group that we’re training to as opposed to using the kind of standard training, and so it applies to a broad variety of personal and professional applications, everyone and from professional athletes to hospitals are using it, to Special Forces in all branches of our military are using it, it’s being used to train first responders, one of our instructors when we became trainers, was one of the leads on a project for the entire country of Colombia, the police force for the entire country of Colombia was being trained in Heart Math practices and had had tremendous outcomes with their use of that. And so for educators right now, one of the most valuable aspects of Heart Math that we’re bringing through training and through our membership community that I’m sure we’ll talk about later, is just for staff to be able to manage the unbelievable amount of unpredictability and change and new demands and higher demands that they’ve been experiencing that result in anxiety, depression, blood pressure issues, other physical stress-related issues, and so the Heart Math practices are really… Have tons of research, more than 400 peer-reviewed research studies, supporting their effectiveness with these types of things.

 

Patrick

Got it. So talk to me about what it means to be truly trauma-informed, because I sometimes find myself mincing words when I talk about trauma, there’s like trauma sensitivity, there’s trauma-informed, there’s all sorts of variations of this, and I sometimes feel like I’m tripping over myself when I’m describing some of the conversations we’re having with our guests or the materials that Tom is developing with our subject matter experts, what does it mean to be truly trauma-informed?

 

Doris

Yeah, absolutely. That training really evolved out of an awareness that many schools and agencies want to be able to refer to themselves as trauma-informed, but sometimes that looks like… Well, we had a one-hour training, right in our staff meeting after school and day, and so they’re uncertain about how do they make this determination and what does that really mean? And so, in our truly trauma-informed training, a school, our agency is guided through a process that’s built around a rubric that we developed of the core principles of being trauma-informed and then using each one of those principles, using them to assess and then design really actionable systems and practices for the specific core principles. And so when we think of what does it look like to be truly trauma-informed, it’s like, How well are you aligned in each of these areas, these core principles, if you look at your system, if you look at your discipline system, if you look at how you do your behavior assessments and behavior plans, how do those align to each of these areas, where are you at on the spectrum because everyone… Somewhere right from like a one to a four rubric, and then the whole idea is, most schools right now, for example, I have a lot of ones and twos, and that’s good to know, it’s good to know where you’re at.Then the second part of that, of course, is developing this plan to where we can focus in and target, it’s much too large elephant to eat all in one bite, and so it helps it break it down and make it feel more manageable. Once a school go through this process or an agency, then typically they have a solid sense for where they’re out on the spectrum of being trauma-informed, and then they can determine where are we gonna focus our energy, where are we gonna focus our resources for growth.

 

Patrick

The way I asked that question might have obscured the fact that Truly Trauma-informed is a particular training offered by your consulting group that’s available to any of your clients?

 

Doris

Yes, yeah, exactly.

 

Patrick

Got it. Another topic that we talked about, and is all the more compelling to me now that you’ve talked about in Heart Math and Columbia at work with their law enforcement agencies, is this idea of collaborative problem-solving. There’s obviously a place for that in the home, in civic society, in the classroom. What does that look like practically? To collaborate with someone to solve a problem, particularly when the participants in the problem-solving might be distracted, affected by trauma, stress out, maybe not wanting to be a part of a solution.

 

Rick

Well, I think that practically, it looks like this, and we call this a plan B conversation or Plan B intervention, that is, is that we start out with a very neutral statement followed by the expectation that we want the child to meet. So for example, it might be, I noticed that when I ask you to clean your room, that’s really hard for you, and you help me understand. And then we wanna try to understand why the child can’t meet the expectation. Notice I didn’t say the behavior, because I want to say this in a way that is non-accusatory, very neutral, very regulating. We want this all lines up with the way the brain processes information, so this is a very regulating statement. Then I use clarifying questions may be educated guess is to try to drill down and find out why the child can’t meet that particular expectation. And then the next part of it is that when I find out they’re concerned, then I let them know what my concern is, for example, in this case as a parent, and that concern is gonna be around either safety, health impact or the impact on others, or learning. In this case, my concern might be that when you don’t clean your room, that there might get germs in there, it gets dirty… There’s a lot of good reasons. And I want you to be able to develop this habit because… So as you become an adult, you can also, you know it’s gonna help you, it’s gonna serve you. And then what we do, then the third part of it is basically, so let’s figure out a way where we can meet your concern, whatever that is, whatever they talk about, not why they are not able to meet the expectation and my concern. And so do you have any ideas about how we can do that? So you solve the problem collaboratively with the child.

 

Doris

And it has to be mutually satisfactory, so again, it isn’t… You’re not negotiating and giving in. A lot of adults kind of are a little apprehensive when they first hear is they’re like, Well, there’s that mean, I have to just go with whatever the kids say, and that’s not the case. That’s not the case, but you’re really bringing both, and sometimes it’s a concern, sometimes it’s a perspective, but you’re bringing both together and saying, Okay, let’s figure out a way where we can mutually… This can be a mutually satisfactory solution that we can give it a try.

 

Patrick

It is interesting, when I think about some parents or teachers apprehension to kind of put themselves on equal footing with a student or a kid, it can sometimes feel like seeding some authority that’s necessary to keep in order to let your yes be yes and your no be no. But it sounds like that might be an apprehension that parents and teachers shouldn’t be worried about, or should be worried about that there are things that they can do to maintain that authority, or maybe the authority is not that important.

 

Rick

Collaborative problem solving has three different plants, and what we just talked a little bit about was planned be the collaboration, but there’s what we call plan I. Plan A is where we still, as the adult, can impose our adult will and use rewards and consequences, in other words, there are certain things that we can’t talk about like if you’re lighting a fire in your room, this may be… This be a plan where if you do that, then this consequence is going to happen. Then we have plan C. Plan C is where we can drop certain expectations for now. For example, I could tell my son, for right now, we’re gonna drop… You know, we have this expectation that we would like for you to clean a room, and I know that’s been really difficult for you, but we also know that there’s some other expectations that we’re working on right now, so for what we’d like for you to clean your room, but for right now, we’re gonna just drop it, we’re not gonna ignore, we’re gonna come back to it at some point in time.

So you do have choices here, so you as the child still understands that you as the adult have the ultimate control, but when you use collaborative problem-solving and you use this plan B, you give them partial control but not complete control, because if your solution doesn’t meet the adult concern as well, let’s say they have a solution that doesn’t meet your concern, you’re adult concerned, then you can say, You know, that doesn’t really meet my adult concern. It’s not a bad idea, it just doesn’t meet my concern, my concern, so we can… We look at some other ideas.

 

Patrick

Got it, okay.

 

Doris

And I think renown important point to Patrick in that when there is this sense of control that we’re giving to the child at a certain level, and when you think about kids… So if you think about this in a school setting, or if you even think about it, I know you mentioned even in a work setting and among adults… Right, if you have individuals who have experienced trauma, having some sense of control can actually bring the situation into a much better equilibrium, and so by them having some sense of control, some sense of choice about how the situation may be solved, that can actually bring a level of regulation, that’s much more likely to lead to things being solved, and we really promote in organizations where we train this. Say, we train a group of adults who are doing in a school with kids or in mental health setting with kids, we really emphasize that this really needs to become your adult culture as well. When you have a staff member who says, Well, I really think that’s bunch of whoee… Instead of saying, Well, no, you really need to see it my way. We’re gonna respond with, Wow, I hear your concern. Help me understand more about that. And then you work toward mutual mutual solution.

 

Rick

And one more thing, Patrick, is that is the reason why we really like collaborative problem-solving is it because we know that we have to regulate the lower parts of the brain, the brain stem and the limbic system area the mid-brain area to get to the cortex, and so we really emphasize, we really take collaborate problem-solving and then put it against what the neuroscience would show. When we are asking the child why they can’t meet the expectation, notice, we’re not saying the behavior, which could be very dysregulation. We’re just saying, This is why we’re asking you to do… And we’re also building our relationship with a child, we’re strengthening that relationship with a child, what we’re actually doing is we’re mirroring the way that the brain processes information from the bottom up or regulating and relating to the child, and only in those situations, if you really think about it, can we ever get to the cortex where we build the neuro-cognitive skills that the child needs to be able to meet our expectations.

 

Doris

Well, and what we haven’t even mentioned is those skills that Rick referred to, this whole process. If you’re working with kids in a school or mental health, starts with doing an assessment of a whole set of neuro-cognitive skills Five categories of skills, broken down into 32 individual neuro-cognitive skills, assessing where is the child currently at with relation to eat, because generally children of chronic challenging behavior show up as having a lot of lagging skills in those areas, and so that’s part of the process that we didn’t even touch on. So.

 

Patrick

Yeah, I feel like we could talk about this for the rest of the day. But I do wanna switch gears a little bit and turn the spotlight on to Bowman Consulting, and some of the things that you offer to people, and one of them is the membership community. Can you tell us about that?

 

Doris

Yeah, absolutely. So our membership community is transforming trauma raising resilience, connected community, and essentially it’s a really dynamic group of professionals from around the country and across the globe that meets together to share ideas, learn the latest in advances in neuroscience and resilience and coherence research for both personal and professional growth and benefits. So it was really born out of an expressed desire by people who attended our trainings to remain connected, continue with higher level learning, be able to build the kinds of connections to other professionals that they began experiencing in our trainings, and so what we offer in the community then is this connection to these other professionals who are quite a passionate and engaged group and share and common purpose and common interest around some topics like self-care and wellness for themselves and their staff, and effective techniques for serving kids, students, clients with trauma and so forth. And so if you wanna add anything on here?

 

Rick

Well, one other thing I would just say is that we try to really provide an ongoing deeper trainings on micro-topics related to trauma-informed care and resilient practices, and we also give them this opportunity to receive the Heart Math, stress and well-being assessment, which is a normed and validated assessment tool designed to help them identify areas for decreasing their stress as well as areas to increase well-being and resilience.

 

Patrick

Got it. So with the membership community, with your consulting and individuals as well as organizations, access your trainings or get in touch with you to conduct a training?

 

Doris

Yes. Absolutely. The membership community, it actually opens for registration or enrolment four times a year, and the reason that we do that, and that can be individuals that sign up, or we also had administrators who signed their entire school up, so that every staff member in their staff has access and opportunity to participate in the community as a school membership, and the reason we open it quarterly is because the recommendation is for this Heart Math or sub-being assessment to be administered every 90 days, and so we run on that cycle, and so in between that time period of folks go to our website and they go to the Connected Community tab, if it isn’t during one of the periods of open registration or enrolment, they can get their name on a wait list there, and then they will be the first to be notified before it’s opened broadly. They’ll receive notification and be able to register at the next… Which actually, we have one coming up mid-February. It’ll be open again, I think around the third week of February, and then with our trainings, schools can just… They can go to our website, which is Bowmanconsultgroup.com, and they can see we have an events page there that shows events that are open, people can register for trainings as individuals through some of the trainings we have posted there. We also have a lot of schools and agencies that contact us and contract us to come do training for them with their staff and sometimes follow-up coaching and consultation and so forth.

 

Patrick

Yeah, like I said, I feel like we could go on all day talking about these trainings and the Heart Math Institute and the work that you guys have done, so maybe we can have you on again in the future to get into some of the things. So we didn’t get a chance to talk about… But for this conversation, I have one more question for you that’s maybe a little more light-hearted. We are hopefully in the waning months of the… We’re hopefully in the waning months of the coronavirus pandemic, and we’re all looking out for vaccines, we’re all looking out for the… All clear, what’s the first thing that the two of you are going to do when you’re sure it’s safe to go back out into the world.

Rick

Wow, that’s a great question.

 

Doris

Yeah, what a great question. I think we don’t know. One of my first thoughts is that we… So when I do my Heart Math, practice it, and you generate a positive renewing emotion, and a lot of times you anchor that to an experience… One of the experiences that I often anchor to generate this renewing emotion is when we were snorkeling in Maui, and I think that when you asked that question, I can tell you there is one place we went where I just floated on the water and watched the turtles, and to me, that was the first image that came to my mind and when you asked that. So I’ll say that’s my answer. I think that’s where I would want to be headed.

 

Rick

That could be my answer too, but this might sound a little weird, but anyway, I think for me, it’s just being able to get out in front of the people. Again, that was a main yeast, we love to try and we love to… Part of it is that just being with the people and really getting some of my best moments in training or those times after the training or during your break, a person will come up to me and just tell me, this is what’s going on in my life, what I owe through severe trauma or what do you think might help in this situation, but it’s the personal connections that are the most important for me.

 

Doris

And people that share the same heart, it’s really… You can feel this connection…

 

Rick

Absolutely.

 

Patrick

You’re both are obviously extremely passionate about the work you do, incredibly knowledgeable about it, and I can’t thank you enough for agreeing to join us on this program.

Rick and Doris

Absolutely. Thank you guys so much, it’s been a pleasure.