Speaking

Karen is an enthusiastic and knowledgeable speaker and is able to engage with a wide audience on a diverse range of topics. She is available to deliver talks to school, parent and professional groups. These dynamic presentations offer key insights and practical strategies for understanding and strengthening children and adolescents. Presentations can be delivered as professional development seminars, staff in-services, keynotes, or presentations to parents, and/or students. All presentations will be tailored to suit the individual needs of your audience

Here are some popular topics, or if you have another idea you would like to discuss, Karen can discuss this with you to create a presentation that will be engaging and relevant for your audience.

To talk more about your needs and inquire about availability, please email Karen at .

  • Great seminar. Really useful as a teacher to cover parent/ teacher/ student responses and prompt questions. Really helpful to hear explicit strategies to assist in the classroom and hear real examples and how to apply them.

    Teacher
    – Australia

  • Brilliant presentation – loved the energy, passion, empathy and insight in your stories, the research base you rely on for the ‘why’ and the range of practical tools applicable for all ages and backgrounds. Your pearls of wisdom will stay with me and help my family, friends and clients as we walk through life. I am forever grateful.

    Parent
    – Australia

  • Great seminar! Karen hits the nail on the head on anxiety in all areas – young people, but also myself and understanding it and how I can deal with it personally, as a CEC at high school, and as a parent.

    CEC (High School), Parent
    – Cairns

  • Incredible, amazing. Karen spoke clearly and made a lot of information interesting, down to earth, realistic and practical.

    Early Childhood Teacher
    – Brisbane, Australia

  • I found her amazing. I found it relatable and accessible. There were lots of good practical strategies and I acquired a much deeper understanding. It gave me tools, tips and hope.

    Teacher/Counsellor
    -Perth, Australia

  • Great session! So much information and knowledge. I could listen to Karen all day.

    Counsellor
    – Perth, Australia

  • Fantastic, no fluff – it was from start to finish really useful information, theory and practical skills/tools to use. Love Karen’s passion for seeing the best in people.

    Social Worker
    – Brisbane, Australia

  • Great! I love the deep and wise understanding of what can be an elusive concept, and then Karen’s ability to make that understanding ‘come alive’ with her storytelling. I appreciate the tangible sense of deep understanding and care for children with practical, loving help – also extended to their parents. Warm, authentic, wise, and practical.

    Guidance Officer
    Brisbane, Australia

  • I thought it was so informative, engaging and empowering. Karen is so easy to listen to and her stories along the way to explain concepts really consolidated my understanding.

    Primary Teacher
    – Brisbane, Australia

  • Karen is an excellent presenter with a wealth of knowledge. Her presentation was informative with solid information and applications to further strengthen my role as a school counsellor who is working with kids on a daily basis who struggle with anxiety! I would recommend this seminar for both professionals and parents.

    School Counsellor
    – Brisbane, Australia

    testimonial
  • Amazing workshop. Karen is very passionate and knowledgeable. Her ability to share her knowledge and experience in understandable terms is a gift.

    Occupational Therapist
    – Brisbane, Australia

  • I found this seminar practical and very informative. Karen is able to describe a range of strategies to use with anxious children and teens, but understands and acknowledges that one size does not fit all.

    Speech Pathologist
    – Melbourne, Australia


FOR PARENTS

  • Strengthening Children and Teens Against Anxiety

    Anxiety is a very normal part of being human, but for as many as one in five children, it can reach intrusive levels, interfering with family life, friendships, and school performance. This transformational session will provide parents and carers with the essential information and powerful, practical strategies to help their children and teens thrive through anxiety, whether it’s everyday levels of anxiety or more intrusive.

  • Anxiety During Adolescence – Strengthening Teens Against Anxiety

    Anxiety can be tough for anyone, but add in the whirlwind of changes that come with adolescence, and anxiety can intrude on young lives more than it deserves to. If left unmanaged, anxiety can limit their reach into the world and their discovery of their very important place in it. It can also leave the adults in their lives who care about them feeling helpless – but it doesn’t have to be this way. Anxiety is manageable, and our teens have a profound capacity to shift anxiety out of their way and move forward with strength. In this presentation, we will focus on anxiety during adolescence. We will discuss how the changes in the adolescent brain can make teens more vulnerable to anxiety, and powerful ways to engage and strengthen all young people against anxiety through adolescence and beyond.

  • Building Courage and Resilience in Children

    Courage and resilience are vital qualities that help children adapt in the face of adversity and challenge, and give them the confidence move towards life-giving opportunities. We will discuss why resilience is so important and how to nurture these essential qualities in our children.

  • Building Self-Control and Emotional Regulation in Children

    Self-control is a vital skill that is instrumental in helping our children develop into healthy, happy adults. It will take time to take shape – nobody was born knowing how to manage big feelings and delay immediate wants in favour of a longer-term goal, but parents have enormous power to provide children with the experiences that will build this vital skill in their children. This seminar will explore the powerful ways parents can, quite literally, influence the strengthening of the brain in ways that will build self-control, emotional regulation, and resilience in their children for life. We will look at the importance of relationship in nurturing self-control, and how parents can strengthen their connection and influence with their children during childhood and beyond.

  • The Neuronurtured Child – Bringing Neuroscience (and Loads of Heart) to Parenting

    Childhood is a time of immense development. Most of the time, this will be a source of pure, full-bodied joy. But as magical as it can be, it can also be tough at times, when feelings and behaviour swell big enough to own a room. Thankfully, huge advances in neuroscience have shone a bright light on why children do what they do, and what their growing brains need to thrive. This has helped to make sense of behaviour that often makes no sense at all and given us glowing signposts for how to strengthen the vital foundations for learning, behaviour, regulation, and social and emotional development in all children. This presentation brings neuroscience (and loads of heart) to parenting and caring for children. It will be ideal for anyone who lives or works with young children – parents, carers, educators.

  • Let’s Talk

    Your questions answered – a heartfelt Q & A about common parenting challenges of childhood and adolescence. Parenting can be the toughest and the best all in the same ten minutes. As isolating as it can feel at times, there is not a challenge we will ever face as parents that many others have not also faced. When we tap into our common humanity and talk about our shared experiences, there will be wisdom and comfort waiting there. This presentation will be shaped by collected or commonly asked questions. It can be adapted for parents of very young children, primary school children, and/or adolescents. It can also be tailored to cover different topics that are relevant to all ages of children.


FOR PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

For teachers, therapists, educators, or any professional who works with children and adolescents.

Each of these topics can be delivered as keynotes or professional development workshops. Topics will be tailored specifically to meet the individual needs of your audience, and presentations can be designed to run from 1.5 hours to a full day.

  • Working With Anxiety in Children and Adolescents

    Anxiety is a very normal human response but for as many as 1 in 5 young people, the symptoms become so intrusive, they significantly interfere with day to day living.

    The effects can ripple from children, to their families, to the classroom, and into friendships. Anxiety can potentially undermine the way children see themselves, the world and their important place in it – but it doesn’t have to be this way. Anxiety is very manageable and all children can be strengthened against the intrusive effects of anxiety. This dynamic workshop will offer a range of practical, powerful interventions to assist participants to respond effectively within their own professional context.

  • Strengthening Children and Teens Against Anxiety – A Two Day Intensive

    Anxiety is one of the most pervasive mental health concerns of childhood and adolescence, but it is very manageable. With modern advances in neuroscience, brain imaging and research, we have never been in a stronger position to understand anxiety and respond with targeted, powerful therapeutic interventions. Modern insights have greatly expanded our capacity to support young people through anxiety, and broaden their capacity to engage with all aspects of daily life with tenacious levels of resilience and courage. This two-day workshop will draw on neuroscience and a number of highly respected therapeutic models to support practitioners in deepening their understanding of anxiety in young people, and their therapeutic response. This will be bolstered by a ground-up approach, as we extend the exploration of what works, by understanding ‘how’. Through a series of experiential exercises, participants will have the opportunity to consolidate learnings and expand their range of therapeutic interventions. (This workshop will complement the one-day workshop, but it is not necessary to have attended the one day workshop to participate in the two-day intensive.)

  • Anxiety in the Classroom – Helping Children Thrive Through Anxiety at School

    Anxiety loves anything unfamiliar or any situation that comes with any potential for embarrassment, failure, humiliation, shame, or separation from a loved one – and school is ripe for all of them. Anxiety can significantly affect friendships, confidence, and school performance, but it doesn’t have to be this way. All children and teens need the right support to thrive, and even the smallest considerations can go a long way to helping children with anxiety find the very best version of themselves. Participants will learn practical, powerful, proven ways to effectively respond to children with anxiety, as well as ways to capture the powerful buffering role school can play in strengthening all young people against anxiety at school and beyond.  

  • The Brain-Based Classroom – Building Calm, Connection, and Regulation at School to Strengthen Learning, Behaviour, and Social-Emotional Development for All Students 

    Thanks to profound advances in modern neuroscience, we now have a deep understanding of the neural foundations of behaviour, regulation, and learning. By applying this knowledge to the classroom, educators are in a unique and powerful position to provide the relationships and experiences that will support regulation, strengthen students against anxiety, reduce challenging behaviour, support social and emotional development, and maximise the learning potential of all children. This workshop will translate the latest proven neuroscientific theory into actionable, relatable, practical strategies and insights to support the strengthening of all children. Participants will learn the foundations of calm and connection in the classroom, how to build relationships with children that heal, protect, and strengthen, and the techniques to build a regulated, learning-ready classroom.

  • Anxiety in Early Childhood – Protecting and strengthening young children against anxiety

    As much as the early learning environment can nurture and nourish all children, the very nature of it means that it can also hold many anxiety triggers, including unfamiliar people and situations, and separation from a loved one. As some of the most important adults in the day to day lives of young children, early childhood educators have a profound capacity to strengthen all young children against anxiety. This workshop will support participants in further developing the capacity to effectively respond to anxiety in young children. It will also explore ways to capture the powerful role the early learning environment can play in strengthening all children against anxiety.  

  • Neurodevelopment from Infancy to Adolescence – Understanding the developing brain to support whole-child development.

    Recent developments in neuroscience have expanded our capacity to be more effective in all areas of practice in child development. We now have remarkable insight into what the growing brain needs to thrive from infancy through adolescence and beyond. Drawing on neuroscientific insights, we can ‘neuro-nurture’ the developing child and dramatically influence the growth and development of the young brain to provide the foundations for a happy, successful life. As the need for neuroscientific knowledge amongst practitioners increases, its convergence with key approaches to attachment, trauma, and learning have seen watershed changes in how we understand and support optimal development, behaviour and social-emotional wellbeing. This opens the way for us to take a more compassionate, targeted and effective response when working with children and adolescents in any capacity. This dynamic workshop will translate neuroscience into powerful insights and practical strategies to support the holistic development of children and adolescents. 

  • Neuro-Nurtured – The Developing Brain During Early Childhood

    Early childhood is a particularly critical time for the developing brain, and the early childhood environment is rich with the necessary experiences and relationships to support children in their development, behaviour, learning, and social and emotional well-being. As some of the most important adults in the day to day lives of young children, early childhood professionals have a profound capacity to provide the experiences and relational conditions that will nurture the holistic development of all children. This workshop will explore the powerful role the early learning environment can play in nurturing the strong neural foundations for long-term development in all children. 

  • The Impact of Trauma on the Developing Brain, and How to Support Children Towards Healing

    The effects of trauma on the developing brain can be profound, impacting neural, physiological, behavioural, relational and emotional development. The greater our capacity to understand the effects and various manifestations of trauma, the greater our capacity to respond to children and adolescents in ways that will support healing and minimise the risk of long-term harm. Any caring, stable, responsive adult in the life of a child has an enormous capacity to provide a buffering from the effects of trauma, and strengthen that child towards healing and growth. This workshop is for anyone who works with children or adolescents.  

  • Brain to Brain – The Neuroscience of Calm, Connection and Regulation

    For anyone who works with children or adolescents, the profound truth is that the brain state and emotional temperature of adults will directly impact the brain state and emotional temperature of the young people in their presence, for better or worse. Ultimately, this will potentially influence a young person’s behaviour, capacity to learn, relationships, and brain architecture. As important as self-regulation is, it can be difficult to achieve at times. We are beautifully human, and along with our great strength and power to heal, calm, and connect, we also have our limits. We can’t help but be impacted by everyday stressors from our own lives, as well as the demands of co-regulating the young people in our care, supporting them through their own pain-based responses, establishing boundaries and responding to challenging behaviour. In this workshop, we will discuss the neuroscience of self-regulation and co-regulation. We will also discuss practical, science-backed ways to gently collect ourselves and the young people in our care to a greater place of calm in challenging, stressful times.  

  • Supporting Children Through Separation and Divorce

    Despite the best happily-ever-after intentions, many relationships are ending in divorce or separation. Children can come through the other side of a separation safely and soundly, but so much of this will depend on how the ending of the relationship is managed. In any divorce or separation, there are things that will make navigating to the other side easier for all children. This workshop is for parents, or anybody who works with parents and families, who are going through the ending of a relationship.  


    FOR CHILDREN (PRIMARY SCHOOL)

    • ‘Who Doesn’t Get Anxiety!’ – Discovering Your ‘Brave’.

      Children are powerful when we empower them. This presentation will focus on providing children with the information and strategies they need to strengthen themselves against anxiety and build their capacity for calm, courage, and resilience. It will provide them with the strategies and information to help them move through anxiety and extend their reach towards brave behaviour.

    • Your Amazing Brain! And how to be the boss of it. Building social and emotional IQ in children.

      If you could teach one set of skills to every child in the world, what would it be? What if it could be something that would bring intelligence and compassion to decision-making, reduce (violence, embed within humanity a drive towards kindness and relationships that heal, nurture and flourish those who are in them? Social-emotional intelligence lies at the heart of this, and neuroscience can provide the scaffold to build these vital qualities. In this fun, child-friendly introduction to neuroscience, children will learn about the workings of the brain, and how to use this information to build strong, healthy behaviours.


    FOR ADOLESCENTS (SECONDARY SCHOOL)

    • Anxiety During Adolescence – How to Strengthen Against Anxiety

      Everyone experiences anxiety at some point, but add in the whirlwind of changes that come with adolescence, and anxiety can feel bigger than it deserves to. This presentation will provide adolescents with powerful information and strategies to navigate through challenges, expand their self-belief, discover their remarkable capacity for courage and resilience, and engage with the world with confidence, courage and strength – because the world can’t be brilliant without them.

    • Thriving Through Adolescence – Making Sense of the Changes and Challenges by Understanding Your Changing (and Amazing) Brain

      During adolescence, the brain goes through the most remarkable changes. This is to provide adolescents with the neural power to learn new skills, experiment with the world and their place in it and stretch beyond the familiar as they make the transition from dependent children to independent, healthy, happy adults. The adolescent brain is wired to drive them through this transition, but there will be challenges along the way. Information is power, and with the right information, adolescents will have an expanded capacity to navigate through the challenges, and see the changes they are going through as positive and dynamic.


      ‘BRAVELY’ – A CLASS-BASED PROGRAM FOR ALL STUDENTS

      ‘Bravely’ has been developed in response to the growing demand from schools to find ways to strengthen children and adolescents against anxiety. Bravely is a science-backed, class-based program to support all children and adolescents with the information, strategies, and inner resources to build courage and resilience, and feel bigger in the presence of anxiety. The program can be adapted for primary or high school students. It includes a series of modules, which draw on neuroscience, and which are delivered in a way that is engaging, interactive, and fun, in order to provide students with life-long skills and strengthening. Each module is based around specific learning objectives, with practical, targeted exercises to consolidate the learning. Bravely can be delivered as an 8 module program or a 6 module program. 

      Please email Karen at for more information.

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      Anxiety is a sign that the brain has registered threat and is mobilising the body to get to safety. One of the ways it does this is by organising the body for movement - to fight the danger or flee the danger. 

If there is no need or no opportunity for movement, that fight or flight fuel will still be looking for expression. This can come out as wriggly, fidgety, hyperactive behaviour. This is why any of us might pace or struggle to sit still when we’re anxious. 

If kids or teens are bouncing around, wriggling in their chairs, or having trouble sitting still, it could be anxiety. Remember with anxiety, it’s not about what is actually safe but about what the brain perceives. New or challenging work, doing something unfamiliar, too much going on, a tired or hungry body, anything that comes with any chance of judgement, failure, humiliation can all throw the brain into fight or flight.

When this happens, the body might feel busy, activated, restless. This in itself can drive even more anxiety in kids or teens. Any of us can struggle when we don’t feel comfortable in our own bodies. 

Anxiety is energy with nowhere to go. To move through anxiety, give the energy somewhere to go - a fast walk, a run, a whole-body shake, hula hooping, kicking a ball - any movement that spends the energy will help bring the brain and body back to calm.♥️
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#parenting #anxietyinkids #childanxiety #parenting #parent
      This is not bad behaviour. It’s big behaviour a from a brain that has registered threat and is working hard to feel safe again. 

‘Threat’ isn’t about what is actually safe or not, but about what the brain perceives. The brain can perceive threat when there is any chance missing out on or messing up something important, anything that feels unfamiliar, hard, or challenging, feeling misunderstood, thinking you might be angry or disappointed with them, being separated from you, being hungry or tired, anything that pushes against their sensory needs - so many things. 

During anxiety, the amygdala in the brain is switched to high volume, so other big feelings will be too. This might look like tears, sadness, or anger. 

Big feelings have a good reason for being there. The amygdala has the very important job of keeping us safe, and it does this beautifully, but not always with grace. One of the ways the amygdala keeps us safe is by calling on big feelings to recruit social support. When big feelings happen, people notice. They might not always notice the way we want to be noticed, but we are noticed. This increases our chances of safety. 

Of course, kids and teens still need our guidance and leadership and the conversations that grow them, but not during the emotional storm. They just won’t hear you anyway because their brain is too busy trying to get back to safety. In that moment, they don’t want to be fixed or ‘grown’. They want to feel seen, safe and heard. 

During the storm, preserve your connection with them as much as you can. You might not always be able to do this, and that’s okay. None of this is about perfection. If you have a rupture, repair it as soon as you can. Then, when their brains and bodies come back to calm, this is the time for the conversations that will grow them. 

Rather than, ‘What consequences do they need to do better?’, shift to, ‘What support do they need to do better?’ The greatest support will come from you in a way they can receive: ‘What happened?’ ‘What can you do differently next time?’ ‘You’re the most wonderful kid and I know you didn’t want this to happen. How can you put things right? Do you need my help with that?’♥️
      Big behaviour is a sign of a nervous system in distress. Before anything, that vulnerable nervous system needs to be brought back home to felt safety. 

This will happen most powerfully with relationship and connection. Breathe and be with. Let them know you get it. This can happen with words or nonverbals. It’s about feeling what they feel, but staying regulated.

If they want space, give them space but stay in emotional proximity, ‘Ok I’m just going to stay over here. I’m right here if you need.’

If they’re using spicy words to make sure there is no confusion about how they feel about you right now, flag the behaviour, then make your intent clear, ‘I know how upset you are and I want to understand more about what’s happening for you. I’m not going to do this while you’re speaking to me like this. You can still be mad, but you need to be respectful. I’m here for you.’

Think of how you would respond if a friend was telling you about something that upset her. You wouldn’t tell her to calm down, or try to fix her (she’s not broken), or talk to her about her behaviour. You would just be there. You would ‘drop an anchor’ and steady those rough seas around her until she feels okay enough again. Along the way you would be doing things that let her know your intent to support her. You’d do this with you facial expressions, your voice, your body, your posture. You’d feel her feels, and she’d feel you ‘getting her’. It’s about letting her know that you understand what she’s feeling, even if you don’t understand why (or agree with why). 

It’s the same for our children. As their important big people, they also need leadership. The time for this is after the storm has passed, when their brains and bodies feel safe and calm. Because of your relationship, connection and their felt sense of safety, you will have access to their ‘thinking brain’. This is the time for those meaningful conversations: 
- ‘What happened?’
- ‘What did I do that helped/ didn’t help?’
- ‘What can you do differently next time?’
- ‘You’re a great kid and I know you didn’t want this to happen, but here we are. What can you do to put things right? Do you need my help with that?’♥️
      As children grow, and especially by adolescence, we have the illusion of control but whether or not we have any real influence will be up to them. The temptation to control our children will always come from a place of love. Fear will likely have a heavy hand in there too. When they fall, we’ll feel it. Sometimes it will feel like an ache in our core. Sometimes it will feel like failure or guilt, or anger. We might wish we could have stopped them, pushed a little harder, warned a little bigger, stood a little closer. We’re parents and we’re human and it’s what this parenting thing does. It makes fear and anxiety billow around us like lost smoke, too easily.

Remember, they want you to be proud of them, and they want to do the right thing. When they feel your curiosity over judgement, and the safety of you over shame, it will be easier for them to open up to you. Nobody will guide them better than you because nobody will care more about where they land. They know this, but the magic happens when they also know that you are safe and that you will hold them, their needs, their opinions and feelings with strong, gentle, loving hands, no matter what.♥️
      Anger is the ‘fight’ part of the fight or flight response. It has important work to do. Anger never exists on its own. It exists to hold other more vulnerable emotions in a way that feels safer. It’s sometimes feels easier, safer, more acceptable, stronger to feel the ‘big’ that comes with anger, than the vulnerability that comes with anxiety, sadness, loneliness. This isn’t deliberate. It’s just another way our bodies and brains try to keep us safe. 

The problem isn’t the anger. The problem is the behaviour that can come with the anger. Let there be no limits on thoughts and feelings, only behaviour. When children are angry, as long as they are safe and others are safe, we don’t need to fix their anger. They aren’t broken. Instead, drop the anchor: as much as you can - and this won’t always be easy - be a calm, steadying, loving presence to help bring their nervous systems back home to calm. 

Then, when they are truly calm, and with love and leadership, have the conversations that will grow them - 
- What happened? 
- What can you do differently next time?
- You’re a really great kid. I know you didn’t want this to happen but here we are. How can you make things right. Would you like some ideas? Do you need some help with that?
- What did I do that helped? What did I do that didn’t help? Is there something that might feel more helpful next time?

When their behaviour falls short of ‘adorable’, rather than asking ‘What consequences they need to do better?’ let the question be, ‘What support do they need to do better.’ Often, the biggest support will be a conversation with you, and that will be enough.♥️
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#parenting #positiveparenting #mindfulparenting #anxietyinkids

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