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

  • Fantastic training. Karen has fantastic tools for working with children and families who are impacted by anxiety. Families require explanations, much the same as children, about why something is happening, how to change it, and why it is important to. This training gave me many tips and tools about how to do this in a meaningful way. As a mum dealing with anxiety in herself and children in her home, you helped give me hope.

    Social Worker
    – New Zealand


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 ORGANISATIONS

    • Strengthening Mental Wellbeing in the Workplace

      The very nature of workplaces mean that even the most supportive work environment, rich in vital opportunities for growth and challenge, can be fertile ground for the physical, relational, and emotional stressors that can drive anxiety and put pressure on mental wellbeing. Understanding these triggers and their impact on the brain and body can be a vital scaffold in strengthening mental health in the workplace and beyond.


    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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      Behaviour is never from ‘bad’. It’s from ‘big’. Big hungry, big tired, big disconnection, big missing, big ‘too much right now’. The reason our responses might not work can often be because we’ve misread the story, or we’ve missed an important piece of it. Their story might be about now, today, yesterday, or any of the yesterdays before now. 

Our job isn’t to fix them. They aren’t broken. Our job is to understand them. Only then can we steer our response in the right direction. Otherwise we’re throwing darts at the wrong target - behaviour, instead of the need behind the behaviour. 

Watch, listen, breathe and be with. Feel what they feel. This will help them feel you with them. We all feel safer and calmer when we feel our people beside us - not judging or hurrying or questioning. What don’t you know, that they need you to know?♥️
      We all have first up needs. The difference between adults and children is that we can delay the meeting of these needs for a bit longer than children - but we still need them met. 

The first most important question the brain needs answered is, ‘Is my body safe?’ - Am I free from threat, hunger, exhaustion, pain? This is usually an easier one to take care of or to recognise when it might need some attention. 

The next most important question is, ‘Is my heart safe?’ - Am I loved, noticed, valued, claimed, wanted, welcome? This can be an easy one to overlook, especially in the chaos of the morning. Of course we love them and want them - and sometimes we’ll get distracted, annoyed, frustrated, irritated. None of this changes how much we love and want them - not even for a second. We can feel two things at once - madly in love with them and annoyed/ distracted/ frustrated. Sometimes though, this can leave their ‘Is my heart safe?’ needs a little hungry. They have less capacity than us to delay the meeting of these needs. When these needs are hungry, we’ll be more likely to see big feelings or big behaviour. 

The more you can fill their love tanks at the start of the day, the more they’ll be able to handle the bumps. This doesn’t have to be big. It just has to be enough. It might look like having a cuddle, reading a story, having a chat, sitting with them while they have breakfast or while they pat the dog, touching their back when they walk past, telling them you love them.

All brains need to feel loved and wanted, and as though they aren’t a nuisance, but sometimes they’ll need to feel it more. The more their felt sense of relational safety is met, the more they’ll be able to then focus on ‘thinking brain’ things, such as planning, making good decisions, co-operating, behaving. 

(And if this today was a bumpy one, that’s okay. Those days are going to happen. If most of the time their love tanks are full, they’ll handle when it drops a little. Just top it up when you can. And don’t forget to top yours up too. Be kind to yourself. You deserve it as much as they do.)♥️
      Things will always go wrong - a bad decision, a good decision with a bad outcome, a dilemma, wanting something that comes with risk. 

Often, the ‘right thing’ lives somewhere in the very blurry bounds of the grey. Sometimes it will be about what’s right for them. Sometimes what’s right for others. Sometimes it will be about taking a risk, and sometimes the ‘right’ thing just feels wrong right now, or wrong for them. Even as adults, we will often get things wrong. This isn’t because we’re bad, or because we don’t know the right thing from the wrong thing, but because few things are black and white. 

The problem with punishment and harsh consequences is that we remove ourselves as an option for them to turn to next time things end messy, or as a guide before the mess happens. 

Feeling safe in our important relationships is a primary need for all of us humans. That means making sure our relationships are free from judgement, humiliation, shame, separation. If our response to their ‘wrong things’ is to bring all of these things to the table we share with them with them, of course they’ll do anything to avoid it. This isn’t about lying or secrecy. It’s about maintaining relational ‘safety’, or closeness.

Kids want to do the right thing. They want us to love and accept them. But they’re going to get things wrong sometimes. When they do, our response will teach them either that we are safe for them to come to no matter what, or that we aren’t. 

So what do we do when things go wrong? Embrace them, reject the behaviour:

‘I love that you’ve been honest with me. That means everything to me. I know you didn’t expect things to end up like this, but here we are. Let’s talk about what’s happened and what can be different next time.’

Or, ‘Something must have made this (wrong thing) feel like the right thing to do, otherwise you wouldn’t have done it. We all do that sometimes. What do you think it was that was for you?’

Or, ‘I know you know lying isn’t okay. What made you feel like you couldn’t tell me the truth? How can we build the trust again. Let’s talk about how to do that.’

You will always be their greatest guide, but you can only be that if they let you.♥️
      Whenever there is a call to courage, there will be anxiety - every time. That’s what makes it brave. This is why challenging things, brave things, important things will often drive anxiety. 

At these times - when they are safe, but doing something hard - the feelings that come with anxiety will be enough to drive avoidance. When it is avoidance of a threat, that’s important. That’s anxiety doing it’s job. But when the avoidance is in response to things that are important, brave, meaningful, that avoidance only serves to confirm the deficiency story. This is when we want to support them to take tiny steps towards that brave thing. It doesn’t have to happen all at once.l and it doesn’t matter how long it takes. Brave is about being able to handle the discomfort of anxiety enough to do the important, challenging thing. It’s built in tiny steps, one after the other. 

We don’t have to get rid of their anxiety and neither do they. They can feel anxious, and do brave. At these times (safe, but scary) they need us to take a posture of validation and confidence. ‘I believe you, and I believe in you.’ ‘I know this feels big, and I know you can handle it.’ 

What we’re saying is we know they can handle the discomfort of anxiety. They don’t have to handle it well, and they don’t have to handle it for too long. Handling it is handling it, and that’s the substance of ‘brave’. 

Being brave isn’t about doing the brave thing, but about being able to handle the discomfort of the anxiety that comes with that. And if they’ve done that today, at all, or for a moment longer than yesterday, then they’ve been brave today. It doesn’t matter how messy it was or how small it was. Let them see their brave through your eyes.‘That was big for you wasn’t it. And you did it. You felt anxious, and you stayed with it. That’s what being brave is all about.’♥️
      A relationally unsafe (emotionally unsafe) environment can cause as much breakage as as a physically unsafe one. 

The brain’s priority will always be safety, so if a person or environment doesn’t feel emotionally safe, we might see big behaviour, avoidance, or reduced learning. In this case, it isn’t the child that’s broken. It’s the environment.

But here’s the thing, just because a child doesn’t feel safe, doesn’t mean the person or environment isn’t safe. What it means is that there aren’t enough signals of safety - yet, and there’s a little more work to do to build this. ‘Safety’ isn’t about what is actually safe or not, it’s about what the brain perceives. Children might have the safest, warmest, most loving adult in front of them, but that doesn’t mean they’ll feel safe. This is when we have to look at how we might extend bigger cues of warmth, welcome, inclusiveness, and what we can do (or what roles or responsibilities can we give them) to help them feel valued and needed. This might take time, and that’s okay. Children aren’t meant to feel safe with every adult in front of them, so sometimes what they need most is our patience and understanding as we continue to build this. 

This is the way it works for all of us, everywhere. None of us will be able to give our best or do our best if we don’t feel welcome, liked, valued, and free from hostility, humiliation or judgement. 

This is especially important for our schools. A brain that doesn’t feel safe can’t learn. For schools to be places of learning, they first have to be places of relationship. Before we focus too sharply on learning support and behaviour management, we first have to focus on felt sense of safety support. The most powerful way to do this is through relationship. Teachers who do this are magic-makers. They show a phenomenal capacity to expand a child’s capacity to learn, calm big behaviour, and open up a child’s world. But relationships take time, and felt safety takes time. The time it takes for this to happen is all part of the process. It’s not a waste of time, it’s the most important use of it.♥️

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