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 to move towards life-giving opportunities. We will discuss why resilience is so important and how to nurture these essential qualities in our children.

  • Building Emotional Regulation and Self-Control in Children

    The capacity to emotionally regulate is something that young people will develop with age and with the loving support of important adults. Emotional regulation involves the capacity to manage feelings in a way that doesn’t cause breakage for ourselves or others. In the meantime, things can get messy, not only for children and teens, but also for the adults who care about them. Big feelings can drive big behaviour. Understanding how to respond when young people are overwhelmed can drive calm and connection over conflict. Ultimately, our responses have enormous potential to build important neural pathways that will strengthen them for life. This presentation 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.

  • 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 learning 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 has 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. 

  • Neuro-Nurtured – Understanding the Developing Brain to Support Learning, Behaviour, and Emotional and Social Development in Children and Adolescents

    Remarkable advances in neuroscience have given us a solid well of information about why children do what they do, and what their growing brains need to thrive from childhood to adolescence. This has given us glowing signposts for how to support learning, behaviour, regulation, and social and emotional development in all children. This presentation is for anyone who lives with or works with young people in any capacity. We will discuss:

  • 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 means 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.

    • Neurodiversity in the Workplace

      Increasingly, neurodiversity is being recognised for what it is – something to be embraced and sought after, rather than a ‘deficiency’ to be accommodated. Workplaces that adopt neuro-friendly practices and create neuro-friendly environments will ultimately create a culture that is welcoming and respectful for all individuals, allowing everyone to perform to their highest capability. This practical, relatable workshop will explore what neurodiversity means, the challenges faced by neurodivergent individuals in the workplace, the practices that will support an inclusive, respectful culture, the strengths of neurodivergent individuals, and the benefits of embracing neurodiversity in the workplace.


    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, and 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.


      FOR ALL STUDENTS – ONLINE, ON-DEMAND

      • Stronger Than Anxiety

        Young people are powerful when we empower them. ‘Stronger Than Anxiety’ is a short, online, on-demand workshop for children and teens. The content can be viewed by students individually, or in class groups. It presents a strengths-based understanding of anxiety, courage and resilience. The workshop will focus on providing children and teens with the information and strategies they need to strengthen themselves against anxiety and build their capacity for calm, courage, and resilience. Why does the conversation matter? Because whenever there is a call to do something brave, important, meaningful, or challenging there will always be anxiety. That’s what makes these experiences growthful or brave. So often though, anxiety can be interpreted as a stop sign, not a warning. When this happens, anxiety will move young people – any of us – away from challenging, growthful experiences. Young people will always be able to do more than they think they can. The key is supporting them to recognise that they can feel anxious, and do brave. 


      Please email Karen at if you would like to make a booking, or for more information.

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      There are lots of reasons we love people or places, and a big reason is that we love who we are when we’re with those people or in those places. It’s the same for our children.

Do they feel seen, important, fun, funny, joyful? Or do they feel annoying, intrusive, unimportant, stupid? Do they feel like someone who is valued and wanted? Or do they feel tolerated? Do they feel interesting, independent, capable? Or do they feel managed?

It’s so easy to fall into a space - and this can happen with the most loving, most wonderful parents - where we spend too much time telling them what to do, noticing the things they don’t do, ‘managing’ them, and not enough time playing or experiencing joy with them, valuing their contribution (even if we’ve had to stoke that a little), seeking out their opinions and ideas. 

We won’t get this right all the time, and that’s okay. This isn’t about perfection. It’s about what we do most and being deliberate when we can. It’s about seeing who they are, through what they do. It’s about taking time to enjoy them, laugh with them, play with them, so they can feel their capacity to bring joy. It’s about creating the conditions that make it easy for them to love the people they are when they are with us.♥️
      This week I had the absolute joy of working with the staff of Launceston College, presenting two half-day workshops on neuroscience and brain development for children and adolescents. 

The teachers and staff at this school care so much about their students. The everyday moments young people have with their important adults matter so much. It’s through these moment to moment interactions that young people start to learn that they are important, believed in, wanted, that they belong, and when this happens, learning will too. It just will. 

This is what teachers do. They open young people up to their potential, to their capacity for learning and doing hard things. They grow humans. The work of a teacher will always go so far beyond content and curriculum. 

Thank you @launceston_college for having me. Your students are in strong and wonderful hands.♥️

Posted @withrepost • @launceston_college
#LC2022 #
      Building brave and moving through anxiety are like lifting weights. The growth happens little by little. Sometimes this will be slow and clumsy. Sometimes it will feel big bold, certain, and beautiful. Sometimes undone, unhappened, frustrating. It all matters. 

There will be so many days where they will see the brave thing in front of them, and everything in them will want to move towards it but they’ll feel stuck - between wanting to and scared to.

This is the point of impasse. The desire and the resistance come face to face, locked in battle. On the outside this might look like frustration, big tears, big anger, the need to avoid or retreat (or in us, a need to retreat them), but inside the work to strengthen against anxiety is happening.

This isn’t the undoing of brave. It’s the building of it. In this precious space between the wanting and the fear, they’re doing battle. They’re doing the hard, imposing work of moving through anxiety. They’re experiencing the distress of anxiety, and the handling of it, all at once. They might not be handling it well, but as long as they’re in it, they’re handling it.

These moments matter so much. If this is all they do, then they’ve been brave today. They’ve had a necessary, important experience which has shown them that the discomfort of anxiety won’t hurt them. It will feel awful, but as long as they aren’t alone in it, it won’t break them. 

Next day, next week, next month they might handle that discomfort for a minute longer than last time. Next time, even longer. This isn’t the avoidance of brave. It’s the building of it. These are the weight lifting experiences that slowly and surely strengthen their resiliency muscles. These are the experiences that show them that the discomfort of anxiety is no reflection at all of how capable they are and how brave they can be. It’s discomfort. It’s not breakage.

These little steps are the necessary building blocks for the big ones. So, if they have handled the discomfort of anxiety today (it truly doesn’t matter how well), and if that discomfort happened as they were face to face with something important and meaningful and hard, let them know that they’ve built brave today.♥️
      Anxiety is a valid, important, necessary way the brain recruits support in times of trouble. In actual times of danger, the support we give is vital. This might look like supporting avoidance, fighting for them, fleeing with them. BUT - when there is no danger, this ‘support’ can hold them back from brave, important, growthful things. It can get in the way of building resilience, self-belief, and the capacity for brave. All loving parents will do this sometimes. This isn’t the cause of anxiety. It’s the response to it. 

We love them so much, and as loving parents we all will, at some time or another,  find ourselves moving to protect them from dangers that aren’t there. These ‘dangers’ are the scary but safe things that trigger anxiety and the call for support, but which are safe. Often they are also growthful, brave, important. These include anything that’s safe but hard, unfamiliar, growthful, brave.

This is when the move towards brave might be in our hands. This might look like holding them lovingly in the discomfort of anxiety for a minute longer than last time, rather than supporting avoidance. It might look like trusting their capacity to cope with the discomfort of anxiety (and approaching hard, brave, growthful things) rather than protecting them from that discomfort. Knowing what to do when can be confusing and feel impossibly hard sometimes. When it does, ask:

‘Do I believe in them, or their anxiety?’
‘Am I aligning with their fear or their courage?’
‘What am I protecting them from - a real danger, or something brave and important?’

They don’t have to do the whole brave thing all at once. We can move them towards brave behaviour in tiny steps - by holding them in the discomfort of anxiety for a teeny bit longer each time. This will provide the the experience they need to recognise that they can handle the discomfort of anxiety.

This might bring big feelings or big behaviour, but you don’t need to fix their big feelings. They aren’t broken. Big feelings don’t hurt children. It’s being alone in big feelings that hurts. Let them feel you with them with statements of validation and confidence, ‘I know this feels big, and I know you can handle this.’♥️
      We all do or say things we shouldn’t sometimes. This isn’t about breakage, it’s about being human. It’s about a brain that has registered ‘threat’, and a body that is getting ready to respond. 

‘Threat’ counts as anything that comes with any risk at all (real or perceived) of missing out on something important, separation from friends or you or their other important people, judgement, humiliation, failure, disappointment or disappointing their important people, unfairness or loss. It can also count as physical (sensory overload or underload, pain, exhaustion, hunger), or relational (not feeling seen or heard, not feeling valued, feeling replaced, not feeling welcome, feeling disconnected from you or someone important).

Young ones have the added force of nervous systems that haven’t got their full adult legs yet. When brains have a felt sense of threat, they will organise bodies for fight (this can look like tantrums, aggression, irritation, frustration), flight (can look like avoidance, ignoring, turning away) or freeze (can look like withdrawal, hiding, defiance, indifference, aloofness).

The behaviour is the smoke. The fire is a brain that needs to be brought back to a felt sense of safety. We can do this most powerfully through relationship and connection. Breathe, be with, validate (with or without words - if the words are annoying for them just feel what they feel so they can feel you with them). 

When their brains and bodies are back to calm, then the transformational chats can happen: ‘What happened?’ ‘What can I do to help next time?’ ‘What can you do?’ ‘You’re a great kid and I know you didn’t want this to happen, but here we are. How can you put this right? Do you need my help with that?’

Of course, sometimes our boundaries will create a collision that also sets nervous systems on fire. You don’t need to fix their big feelings. They aren’t broken. Stand behind the boundary, flag the behaviour (‘It’s not ok to … I know you know that’) and then shift the focus to relationship - (‘I’m right here’ or, ‘Okay I can hear you want space. I’m going to stay right over here until you feel better. I’m here when you’re ready.’)♥️

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