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Mindfulness Training for Resilience in Early Life: a Neurobiological Perspective

May 4, 2022

May 4, 9:30-10:30am Central Time (on Zoom)

CEUs available for social work: $10 for one credit hour

Description: Early life stress (ELS) is a major public health crisis that results in significant disruptions in neurobiological processes and long-term psychiatric and health consequences, yet very little is known about interventions that may prevent them and the optimal time to do so. Not only is ELS associated with earlier onset and greater severity and comorbidity of depression, anxiety, and substance abuse, but these individuals also evidence significantly poorer responses to psychological and pharmacological interventions when treated for these conditions. Mindfulness training promotes emotional awareness and regulation by enhancing the development of control over one’s thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, and is thus well-suited to target neurobiological processes involved in psychological stress responses in ELS-exposed youth. This presentation will review the consequences of ELS, mindfulness training and its proposed neurobiological underpinnings, as well as present data describing the feasibility and tolerability of mindfulness training with ELS-exposed youth and the associated neurobiological findings.

Lecturer: Namik Kirlic, PhD

Dr. Kirlic was born and raised in Bosnia and Herzegovina. He earned his B.A. in Psychology from Middlebury College in Vermont in 2005, where under mentorship of Dr. Adela Langrock his senior thesis focused on the cumulative effects of perceived war- and post-war stress on current psychological functioning. Following his undergraduate studies, he spent two years in the laboratory of Dr. Hans Breiter and Dr. Anne Blood at the Massachusetts General Hospital managing studies on addiction and movement disorder, as well as learning neuroimaging methods and technology. Taking leap of faith, he moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma in 2010 to pursue a PhD in clinical psychology at the University of Tulsa (TU) and Laureate Institute for Brain Research (LIBR). Under mentorship of Dr. Elana Newman at TU and Dr. Ruben Alvarez at LIBR, Dr. Kirlic focused on individual differences in neural responses to predictable and unpredictable threats, effects of prenatal drug exposure and postnatal adversity on biological stress responses in children, and effectiveness of interventions for youth survivors of natural disasters and war. His clinical practice in graduate school, as well as during his clinical residency at the University of New Mexico Hospitals and New Mexico VA, centered on the assessment and evidence-based treatment of mood, anxiety, stress and trauma-related, and emotion dysregulation disorders. Dr. Kirlic returned to Tulsa for his postdoctoral fellowship at LIBR in 2016. Under mentorship of Dr. Robin Aupperle, he trained in the use of translational behavioral and neuroimaging methods to identify reliable predictors of resilience and treatment responses. Additionally, he had an active role in the delivery of the related evidence-based interventions. In January of 2019, Dr. Kirlic became an Associate Investigator at LIBR. In addition to his research activities, Dr. Kirlic supervises the clinical work of clinical psychology graduate and postgraduate trainees at LIBR. Dr. Kirlic serves as the co-chair of the Genetics and Neuroscience Special Interest Group for the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, Consulting Editor of the Adversity and Resilience Science Journal, and Member of the Editorial Board of the European Journal of Psychotraumatology. Finally, Dr. Kirlic plays an active role in disseminating finding from his research and discussing stress and adolescent mental health more broadly with various stakeholders within the greater Tulsa community. Dr. Kirlic’s research is currently funded by the National Institute for General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) and William K. Warren Foundation.

Number of Sessions:



On Zoom

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