Leading by asking, “Who is important?”

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School has begun and everyone is well into their routines. If you are and your students are cruising along, I offer you a “virtual” pat on the back and two thumbs up! Stop reading this and get back to whatever you are doing that’s working.

If you or your learners are struggling then I also want to congratulate you. You are noticing humans being humans. There is nothing wrong. 

This last statement may have you thinking I am suffering from post-concussion syndrome but I assure you everyone is doing exactly what they are supposed to be doing. Read on and I will explain and offer a way forward for having a successful school year.

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Promoting Psychological Flexibility and Social Emotional Learning with the Matrix

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When we apply the matrix and the psychological flexibility point of view in working with young people and adults, we are also promoting social and emotional learning. The matrix sets a powerful context for noticing what works and what doesn’t work for learning about yourself and others.

This is a webinar Dr. Polk hosted and I presented that addresses how to boost self-monitoring, self-regulation and prosocial skills with learners of all ages,


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How to Get Unstuck and Get Moving Toward Your Important Stuff

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I was playing around with a spinner the other day and came up with the idea of this video.  As we learn to pay less attention to our minds and more to who and what is important to us the spinning can just go along for the ride!


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The Matrix On the Road!

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In April and May I had the pleasure of presenting the Matrix in two different states, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

In Aril I held a collaborative workshop with the wonderful folks from PLEA. PLEA is an educational and mental health agency that partners with families to help individuals with behavioral or developmental difficulties to function to their fullest potential as effective members of their community through advocacy and family-focused support and educational services. We met at Chatham University in “Da Burg”  ( known to most as Pittsburgh ). The focus was to bring ACT and the Matrix to the process of planning and helping educators, families and agencies negotiate the yearly planning known as IEPs ( Individualized Education Plans ).

I presented the Matrix point of view and was followed by Beth Fulton, Director of PLEA’s ACT Institute and Aaron Libman, Clinical Director. Beth presented on using the matrix with families and Aaron on the matrix as an organizational and staff training tool. A good time was had by all and the matrix was well received by a mix of educational, mental health and community agency professionals. Very special thanks to medical director Stu Libman and executive director Debbie Ferraro for their wonderful support and generosity. PLEA has been an invaluable resource for the Pittsburgh community and it was an honor to help them with their continued efforts.

This month I held a full day workshop at the New Jersey Association of School Psychologists spring conference entitled, “Developing Healthy Classrooms: The ACT Matrix for Counseling and Intervention”. We spent the experiencing the matrix point of view and applying it to school and family-based interventions. All attendees left with a “homework assignment”, namely, to show the matrix to someone else! I have already heard from a few who have done their homework so the matrix is spreading! Thanks also to my attentive assistant Jamie Schleifer for her help and the photo!

In both workshops, I presented what is known as the two loops around the matrix. The first loop is done for individuals to promote psychological flexibility, the ability to move in valued directions while experiencing uncomfortable internal obstacles like fear and anger. The second loop is for working with groups such as classrooms, families and work meetings and promotes psychological safety. The ability to be flexibile in thinking and responding is critical for success in school and life. Feeling safe in groups allows everyone to have a voice and contribute. Bringing both of these processes together in classrooms turbocharges academic, social and emotional development.

Next month I will be retruning to Burlington County, New Jersey for another run through the two loops with locals school Child Study Team members. Stay posted!


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