In this interview, Sarah Richardson sits down with Dr. Ellen Katz, who has a unique lens as both a practising Social worker and a practising Buddhist, and a professor who marries these two experiences in and for her students. She discusses how she teaches her students about experiential and embodied learning, and meditation practices, in an undergraduate course on mindfulness and mental health interventions, and in graduate courses on mindfulness for social work students who may apply this one day in the field. For Ellen though, it is important that mindfulness is not a tool, but instead a practice that all must experience to understand.
“I tell them that mindfulness is something like present moment awareness that welcomes all experience without preconception or judgment. It accepts what is with curiosity and compassion.” Ellen Katz
“Mindfulness isn’t a technique—it’s a process and you are the tool.” Ellen Katz
“Social work is still focused on identity: duality and division. Buddhism can take social work further, looking at what we share as human beings.” Ellen Katz
“I find they are so engaged and again so hungry for this knowledge, theory, and practice.” Ellen Katz
Links and References
Dr. Ellen Katz, Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work, University of Toronto
Dr. Diane R. Gehart’s book, Mindfulness and Acceptance in Couple and Family Therapy
Rodger Kamenetz’s book, The Jew in the Lotus
Toronto Zen Centre website
Reggie Ray’s Dharma Ocean website
Gregory Kramer’s book, Insight Dialogue: The Interpersonal Path to Freedom
Gillian Straker’s book, The Talking Cure: Normal People, their Hidden Struggles and the Life-Changing Power of Therapy
Yuk-Lin Renita Wong’s article, “Knowing through Discomfort: A Mindfulness-based Critical Social Work Pedagogy,” Critical Social Work 5.1 (2004).