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Debbie Tiger, M.S., CTRS presented a training session titled: Mindfulness as therapeutic recreation intervention. It was presented Tue. Sept. 13th in the Chicago-area at the ATRA annual conference.

I had plugged her session earlier during my session on Rec Therapy for children with Abuse-reactive needs. DBT was on the models I covered and mindfulness training is one of the four main skill sets taught in DBT.

Debbie provided a great session!

Mindfulness is about focusing on the here and now.

I had packed up all my stuff earlier on this date and put it in my car (because I was leaving, right after this session).

The student (Peg Connolly scholarship winner) reminded us to turn in our CEU forms at the front desk before we left to get credit. And then I realized, I didn’t have my CEU sheet with me.

I felt worried I wouldn’t get credit for this .90 session. Which is okay, because I have an abundance of CEUs and don’t need to have them. But I do like having CEU transcripts to keep as record of my trainings. The speaker provided some mindfulness practice exercises during this session as well. I tried really hard to focus on the moment and do the exercises without letting my mind wander to the CEU form, which was difficult. But it provided me with some awareness of how my patients could feel during therapy sessions with me when their mind is just someone else. I did get the benefit of getting my mind off my CEU form for a while and letting it go and using radical acceptance. After the session, I ran up to 3rd floor parking lot, got my CEU form, got it back and got credit! I told Debbie Tiger about my experience in the hallway after this session and how I actually benefited from it (by experiencing what a patient is dealing with – having mind someone else while in hospital setting).

One student at this session had passed the NCTRC exam a few days before the conference. She was hoping to get CEUs at this conference, but didn’t have her official “CTRS” credential yet. I told her it would still have been nice to have her CEU form as record of attendance in sessions. I made that mistake once when I didn’t need CEUs in the past.


Okay – back to this session

  • Mindfulness benefits include:
  • Better emotional regulation
  • Better emotion expression,
  • Better self-care
  • Better functioning in a variety of areas: social, emotional, mental, spiritual and functioning.


People with PTSD are often hypervigilant. They are overthinking. Mindfulness can help with this.

She showed popular mindfulness pictures that are often on facebook of the dog who is happy because he is in the moment with his owner and the man who is unhappy because his mind is all over the place.

Is your “Mind Full” are your being “mindful?”

Jon Zinn (2003) defined mindfulness along the lines of: a person is not mindful when she is not in the moment.

Debbie shared that we will never have this moment again. That once it is gone it is gone for good. She argued about enjoying the moment and being present.


Danny Pettry: it kind of reminds me of that Stephen King book, “The Langoliers.” They are these creatures that eat up the past.


She provided a few practice exercises:

  • 3-5-7 breathing
  • Hand on stomach breathing
  • 4-7-8 breathing for sleep
  • Focusing on a single minute (without buzzer on watch) just look at phone/ or watch/ or clock when you think it has been minute
  • Band of light exercise
  • Thought diffusion
  • Mindful of emotions


Mindfulness is good for when people just perseverate on something and can’t get rid of the thought. She suggested thought clouds of seeing the thought float away or letting it float down a stream or on billboards along the road that you drive by and can’t see anymore. Let those unwanted thoughts go – which is easier said than done.


She also talked about:

Radical acceptance of thoughts and emotions and what is happening.


She talked about the recreational therapist being present in the moment now. In example: if the patient screamed and cussed and hit you the day before. Then you might be still dwelling on some of those thoughts and it might be difficult to be with the patient today. Do not let yester’days thoughts about it cloud my mind.

She recommended yoga!

She talked about mindful communication.


She also talked about how mindfulness played a part in the Leisure Ability Model


At the end of this session, she played a neat youtube video that she thought reflected on being in the moment.

Here it is:

Video by Shea Glover: “you’re beautiful”