A significant number of students at Woodward Academy have been identified as having high levels of emotional and behavioral dysregulation. This refers to the emotional and behavioral responses that fall outside of the accepted social norms. This results in entrenched patterns of maladaptive and anti-social behavior. Severe and explosive anger, physical, verbal, and sexual aggression, opposition and defiance, anxiety, and depression / suicidality are all indicators of this dysregulation. The disruptive behaviors of these types of students present an ongoing challenge and frustration.
The current gold-standard of care and treatment for this is an approach known as dialectical behavior therapy. By incorporating this approach while also drawing upon other frameworks such as acceptance and commitment therapy, mindfulness-based stress reduction, somatic experiencing, and interpersonal neurobiology, the Knight’s Mind Training (KMT) program represents an array of evidence-based interventions which have been shown to be very effective in groups with teens.
That is a very clinical explanation for KMT that also requires a practical application. So what is Knight’s Mind Training? Chris Johnson, the Clinical Therapist behind the KMT program explains that “just as we do PT (physical training), we must also train our minds,” and every day is training day. As a huge advocate for mindfulness training, he believes that every person, not just students, would benefit from this program.
Our bodies carry stress and we start to feel overwhelmed in certain situations. Then our minds start to say ‘I don’t like this feeling’ and we begin assigning reasons for why we feel that way. “I’m overwhelmed, I can’t handle it. I’m overwhelmed, it’s that person’s fault. I’m overwhelmed, I’m so awful. And all of these stories are heaping more suffering and pain on top of the pain that is already there.” KMT helps individuals “pay attention to the present moment… without judgement” so that they can have a clear mind with what is right in front of them.
Chris Johnson, MS – Clinical Therapist
With 15 years of experience in the counseling field, Chris has developed a unique way to reach adolescents in Knight’s Mind Training. With a degree in Psychology from Central College, a Masters of Mental Health Counseling degree from Drake University, and having been a Knight for 6 years, he developed this curriculum in 2013. His own mindfulness studies include practicing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and working toward a certificate in Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction for Teens.