Episode 204 - Dr. Annemarie Gockel: Practicing Presence: A Curriculum for Integrating Mindfulness Training into Direct Practice Instruction

Monday, November 21, 2016, 7:36:30 AM

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In this episode, Dr. Annemarie Gockel describes her work, research, and experience as a social work educator who integrates mindfulness training with students into her social work courses. She discusses what mindfulness can look like in a classroom setting and how to introduce this method in this context.

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Average Rating: 4.9 stars (11 listener reviews )

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Average Rating: 5stars  mindfulness, Monday, February 12, 2018

By Kendall :

Dr. Gockel's discusses the importance of mindfulness and its usefulness in social work classrooms. I really appreciated the example of linking mindfulness to the development of clinical skills in the classroom. In my own experience with in class role plays, I find myself getting anxious over choosing the right words and forcing meaningful interactions. The mindfulness exercise appears to be a useful way to recenter and meditate on the purpose of the exercise in order to truly learn. I also appreciated the relation of mindfulness to resilience and self-care, as these are also crucial social work skills. There is mention at the end of research involving mindfulness practice with social work students in their field placements. I think that this would be a very beneficial avenue for research and that mindfulness has great potential to improve the field experience.

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Average Rating: 4stars  mindfulness practice, Monday, February 05, 2018

By Lydia :

Dr. Annemarie Gockel discusses how mindfulness skills are not only important for the client but for social workers themselves. Mindfulness skills include the ability to direct and sustain attention, openness, responsiveness, empathy, and compassion for oneself and for others. Integrating mindfulness into the classroom is important and mindfulness training is a form of self-care. I like Dr. Gockel’s example of using role play for reflective listening. She mentioned how she stops in the middle of role play and does breathing techniques for students to take a break and relax and realize what is going on between them and the client. The students generally say that they notice things that got in the way of their clinical skills after taking a minute breather. Dr. Gockel’s mindfulness definition as the capacity to attend to one’s particular moment is a great way to summarize all the different mindfulness descriptions out there. I personally try to use mindfulness in my daily life to get through my day. I love when my professors do mindfulness practices during class time. It amazes me how large of a practice mindfulness can be and students get drawn to many theories because it makes sense with how they see the world. I liked how Dr. Gockel integrates spiritual aspects into her classes to strengthen critical conversations. Mindfulness activities are important in self-care and I wish more people knew about mindfulness and how helpful it is for someone to use. When feeling helpless, I think mindfulness can be productive. I think it would be great to start integrating mindfulness practices at a young age as I feel like right now it is for older people. With the physical and mental health benefits of mindfulness, it would be awesome to use it more in school, hospitals, and other environments. I would love to learn more about mindfulness now with all the research out there on bringing one’s attention to experiences occurring currently.

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Average Rating: 5stars  interesting and useful, Saturday, February 03, 2018

By Cierra Samanka :

I really enjoyed listening to this podcast because I am very interested in the concept of mindfulness. I also really enjoyed how Annemarie Gockel takes the listener on a journey through what a mindfulness experience would be like.
I have only ever thought of this technique to be one that we could utilize with clients. However, through this podcast, I have discovered that mindfulness is a technique that may also be used in a classroom setting with aspiring social workers to allow them to become more self-aware, open minded, and flexibly in their thinking. I have also learned that this is a technique that can be utilized with students when facing difficult and critical conversations in the classroom such as diversity and oppression, which I look forward to as I am currently in the Diversity and Oppression class with Elaine Hammond. Lastly, I feel that mindfulness is a practice that I plan to utilize and try in my own self-care routine now and someday in the future with clients as I become more versed in the practice.

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Average Rating: 5stars  review on episode 204, Tuesday, February 14, 2017

By Sarah Barth :

I really enjoyed listening to this podcast between Elaine Hammond and Dr. Annemarie Gockel. I thought it was extremely interesting that Dr. Gockel not only teaches her students different mindfulness techniques, but she implements these techniques during class to make her students feel more relaxed and comfortable. I agree with what she said about mindfulness being an experience, not a concept. What she means by this is that mindfulness isn’t just one thing; it’s different for everyone, and it’s an experience that you can take with you wherever you go. Dr. Gockel says that mindfulness training actually increases key, foundation skills for her students. Some of these key skills include being able to sustain your attention, tolerating and regulating affect, flexible thinking, being more open and responsive with clients, and gaining compassion for yourself and others. These skills are necessary for social workers to have when dealing with clients because it helps build the relationship between them. It’s also good to use these mindfulness techniques on yourself as a method of self-care. We all know that as social workers, we get burned out very easily and we sometimes have trouble not bringing our work home with us, but we need to start learning how to step back, take a deep breath, and not think about anything important for a little bit each day. It’s important that we take care of ourselves, so that we can keep going each and every day without feeling physically and emotionally exhausted. Mindfulness is paving the way for social workers to become better versions of themselves, which will ultimately help them in the long run in their practices. Dr. Gockel did a fantastic job explaining mindfulness to us, and I loved that she even practiced her techniques on us!

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Average Rating: 5stars  mindfulness and learning, Sunday, February 12, 2017

By James A. :

Having recently watched a TedXYouth talk (see link below) about the value of mindfulness in educational settings, I was keen to listen to Dr. Gockel’s exploration (and modeling) of integrating mindfulness into direct practice instruction. I wasn’t disappointed: as someone whose experience bridges the worlds of education and social work, I found Dr. Gockel’s observations encouraging, relevant, and practical.
While the podcast focused primarily on graduate social work instruction, Dr. Gockel references the applicability of the reflection and contemplation in other practice and educational settings. Indeed, Dr. Gockel’s identification of self consciousness, self-doubt and fear as barriers to communication and learning applies equally to elementary and secondary students. Her articulation of key benefits of mindfulness practice (directing and sustaining attention, developing flexible thinking, enhancing empathy, tolerating and regulating affect) seems to reflect not only an effective model for drawing out clients in clinical conversations, but also a recipe for the social and academic flourishing of younger students. As Dr. Gockel notes, these skills can “change the nature of the learning process.” The capacity to attend, to be open to experience, and to maintain curiosity are foundational to student success, allowing for more engaged and reflective participation in learning at all levels.
Dr. Gockel stresses the value of mindfulness in social work education and practice; however, when we consider the life-long social, emotional, vocational and economic consequences of low academic performance and of emotional dysregulation, Dr. Gockel’s observations seem to offer hope and direction for all educators and students. It’s great food for thought.
Rossi, A.M. (May 21, 2015). Why aren’t we teaching you mindfulness? Youtube: TedXYouth Talk retrieved from

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Average Rating: 5stars  mindfulness: life skill, Tuesday, February 07, 2017

By Heather :

I think it is first important to discuss how the mindfulness exercise affected me. I had been washing dishes and cleaning up my kitchen while listening to this podcast. When Dr. Gockel started the exercise I was hurrying through my dishes but as she started speaking and asking her audience to notice breath and then thoughts, I noticed myself go from a hurried motion to a slower more relaxed pace. I also started to notice how the water looked as it washed across the top of the plate. Once I was finished washing dishes I hurried to a chair and sat down to get more out of the exercise. I could feel all my hurry fall away and a state of calm overcome me. My breath was slow and relaxed and my thoughts were able to come and go. When she started to bring us back from the exercise I could feel my body yearning for a longer moment. But when it was over I noticed my body was still calm and relaxed. I was no longer in a hurry to get my homework done.
With that said, I certainly agree with Dr. Gockel that mindfulness should be infiltrated into social work teaching and practice. Our jobs as social workers is to make others feel they are being heard, to make a difference in another person’s life, to be open minded, and be empathetic. If there is a practice that teaches these, why as social workers would we not want to absorb all that knowledge possible. I honestly think that we should start using mindfulness practice in schools for children from Kindergarten to twelfth grade. If we taught children at a young age how to regulate their thoughts, feelings, and emotions children would be able to handle life and different experiences in an entirely different way. Mindfulness isn’t just a social work skill to me it is a life skill.

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Average Rating: 5stars  integrating mindfullness into direct practice, Tuesday, February 07, 2017

By Delaney S :

I think that often; mindfulness is explained in words instead of actual practice. There are so many times when we as social workers are in such difficult situations and it can be hard to utilize mindfulness skills in the moment. It comes down to enough practice with mindfulness that it becomes reflexive as a “muscle memory” within our brain.

It resonated with me when Dr. Gockel spoke about the connection of mindfulness to sustaining attention, increased flexibility in thinking and openness, and the enhancement of empathy and compassion. These are all crucial skills that we must all practice when interacting with clients, and therefore excelling in these areas benefits not only the clients but also ourselves.

I liked when Dr. Gockel explained her usage of mindfulness in her classroom and how she teaches students to apply these skills in clinical settings. When she explained that she had her students stop in middle of role play and practice breathing, and how they became much less anxious after, is amazing! As someone who naturally becomes very anxious in a roleplaying position in classes, this would be great to try to incorporate.

I love the connection made between mindfulness and resiliency and how this skill increases one’s capacity to attend to the present moment. I am guilty of having my mind drift when I should be actively listening, and so I think it would be beneficial to learn how to habitually bring myself back to hold attention and promote interest and curiosity in my interactions.

It is easy to neglect ourselves and get caught up in the negative aspects of life. Helplessness and hopelessness is a part of being a student and social work professional. It is important to make sure that your mental state is looked after. After all, how can you help others if you do not know how to help yourself?

Carrying over the skills from education to practice is essential and I very much enjoyed listening to Dr. Gockel and Dr. Hammond discuss this.

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Average Rating: 5stars  mindfulness practice, Monday, February 06, 2017

By Kelli D. :

I had Professor Hammond for Diversity and Oppression and we did practice mindfulness almost every class. The class discussions were about tough topics yet no one ever argued in a disrespectful way. I have had other classes with similarly difficult topics and this has not been the case. Arguments have quickly gone to an unprofessional and impolite place. There are various reasons why this may have happened but mindfulness is one reason to consider. The mindfulness practice allowed for us to hear each other and to recognize how we are feeling about what is being said and thus able to prevent our negative feelings from becoming too intense. A lot of people do not realize how emotions can affect our bodies physically and mindfulness can help you recognize those physical feelings.

In addition to being able to better recognize my emotions, mindfulness helps me to direct my attention. Mindfulness allows for a person to be in the present. These are important qualities for a clinical social worker to have. Listening to your client is one of the most important skills a clinical social worker should master. While there is nothing wrong with a little daydreaming, having your mind wander off while in a session with a client is less than ideal and mindfulness practice makes it easier to stay focused.

I really enjoyed that this podcast featured mindfulness practice in the middle of the interview, albeit brief. That is definitely the best way to demonstrate what mindfulness practice looks like and how mindfulness can make one feel.

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Average Rating: 5stars  mindfulness: an incredibly important clinical skill to develop , Sunday, February 05, 2017

By Matthew L. Schwartz :

I found this podcast very helpful in beginning to understand how I can apply mindfulness in my work with my clients, and how I can integrate it into my own Social Work practice.

I think that mindfulness can be helpful – as Dr. Gockel pointed out in the podcast – because when practiced it allows us to tune into ourselves, our emotions, our worlds, and it allows us enter into the here and now with our clients. Mindfulness allows us to get in tune with all parts of our lives as practitioners (especially those parts that might be holding us back from fully connecting with our clients, when our minds are wandering elsewhere).

Having practiced it in Prof. Hammond's Diversity & Oppression course, I absolutely agree that it was beneficial, as Prof. Hammond stated in the podcast, in allowing us to dive much deeper (emotionally) into very sensitive topics, while at the same time allowing us to connect with our peers, and with ourselves at a much more meaningful level.

I found the experiential aspect of this podcast very helpful. It served as an excellent reminder that we can practice mindfulness at our desks, before, during, and after meetings, and in a variety of ways that will allow us to prepare and steel ourselves to handle whatever may come up during our sessions. Mindfulness will allow us, in a focused manner, to truly be present for, and with, our clients or colleagues.

I look forward to reading the research that continues to come out regarding mindfulness and its use in clinical practice, and to continuing to build my own mindfulness practice. I thank Dr. Gockel and Prof. Hammond for their thoughtful discussion on this important topic which benefits not only our clients, but ourselves as practitioners.

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Average Rating: 5stars  mindfulness as a crucial skill, Thursday, February 02, 2017

By Kate :

This piece interviewing Dr. Annemarie Gockel was enlightening and I would recommend it to anyone studying social work or any individual whose education or employment is concerned with serving clients. Through learning about Dr. Gockel’s course in this interview, I was encouraged to view mindfulness – a topic in which I already had a vested interest – in a new and innovative way that is applicable in many facets of practice and every day life.

I found it particularly fascinating that Dr. Gockel teaches mindfulness in a context specific to direct social work practice. In the social work curriculum that I have experienced so far, mindfulness has been discussed as more of a self-care method than a tool for practice. In describing the utility of mindfulness as a means of identifying our anxieties and self-doubts as social workers and further, as a means of connecting with clients, Dr. Gockel positions mindfulness as a crucial skill in social work. Mindfulness is still often trivialized in the mainstream, but I believe that classes like Dr. Gockel’s, or at least listening to interviews like hers, should be required for social work students in order to develop necessary skills.

I thought the most effective segment of this interview was the actual mindfulness practice. This was an important piece in creating a more concrete understanding of something that can often be viewed as highly conceptual, making it easier to grasp, especially for listeners who may be unfamiliar or less familiar with the practice of mindfulness.

After listening to Dr. Gockel’s model mindfulness exercise and hearing the proven effects of mindfulness practice in her classroom, I believe that educators at the University at Buffalo would benefit students by incorporating these types of activities during class time more often.

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Average Rating: 5stars  dr. annemarie gockel on mindfulness, Tuesday, January 31, 2017

By Anonymous :

I really enjoyed listening to the ways Dr. Annemarie Gockel talked about how she encourages her students to practice mindfulness with themselves, and then gradually integrating it within their sessions with clients. I also like how she refers to practicing mindfulness as a form of self-care, and how using mindfulness training as a way of seeing ones thoughts unfold and being able to identify their thoughts. I love that she feels mindfulness can assist in resilience.

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DISCLAIMER: The content shared by the presenter(s) and/or interviewer(s) of each podcast is their own and not necessarily representative of any views, research, or practice from the UB School of Social Work or the inSocialWork® podcast series.