Critical training to better protect, support, and heal vulnerable children


series: emotional wellbeing of children by Patricia L. Gerbarg, MD, Richard P. Brown, MD
& Somiari Demm, MA/M.Div, CYT, CTS


It's time to choose our breathing buddy. Haley, Leon [name of children], would you choose a breathing buddy? You buddies will have to wait for some other children to breathe with you.

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Now, we'll ask you to lie down and put your breathing buddy on your belly button. That's good. Look in your breathing buddy's eyes because you're going to help your breathing buddy, you're going to give him a ride.

Hold onto your breathing buddy, just for a minute. When you breathe in, let's breathe in and we give our buddy a ride up and when we breathe out, we give our buddy a ride down. That's good. Let's try that again. Breathing in, buddy comes up. Breathing out, buddy comes down. Great!

Now, if you'd like, you can lie your buddy down so he doesn't roll off your tummy. You can hold your buddy, or you can just rest your hands down by your sides. Whatever feels good to you. That's great.

We're going to slowly do our breathing with our breathing buddies. We're going to breathe in. We're going to breathe out slowly and gently. Breathing in, two, three, four. Breathing out two, three, four. Breathing in two, three, four. Breathing out, two, three, four. Breathing in, two, three, four. Breathing out, two, three, four. Breathing in. Breathing out. And if you're comfortable, can close your eyes. Breathing in. Or you can keep your eyes a little bit open. Breathing out. Breathing in and breathing out. Breathing in and breathing out. Gently out.

Now, notice we're not pushing our bellies. We're not pulling our bellies. We're letting the air give them a ride up as the air and the breath fills up your belly naturally. Breathing out. Breathing in. Breathing out. Good. Breathing in. It doesn't have to be perfect. Breathing out. Breathing in. Good. Breathing out. Breathing in.

Sometimes, as the children are breathing out and breathing in, you'll notice that somebody's breathing is no longer in time. They're breathing in their own rhythm. That usually means the child has fallen asleep, so don't wake them up because falling asleep is the best thing for them. You can tell when one of the children is asleep because their breathing buddy will be going at a whole different rate up and down as they breathe through sleeping. That's fine.

Breathing in and breathing out. Breathing in and breathing out.


Dr. Patricia Gerbarg

Patricia L. Gerbarg, M.D., Assistant Clinical Professor in Psychiatry, New York Medical College. Dr. Gerbarg has lectured and taught about a wide range of topics in psychiatry, psychoanalysis, women’s issues, trauma, neurobiology, natural treatments (herbs, nutrients), and the integration...

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of mind-body practices in psychotherapy for the American Psychiatric Association (APA) Meetings and many other conferences, academic centers, and community organizations.She serves on the APA Caucus on Complementary and Integrative Psychiatry and is a board member of the American Botanical Council.

Dr. Gerbarg practices Integrative Psychiatry, combining standard and complementary treatments. Her research focuses on mind-body practices for reducing the effects of stress and trauma, particularly in survivors of mass disasters, including the Southeast Asia Tsunami, 9/11 World Trade Center attacks, 2010 earthquake in Haiti, war in Sudan, Gulf Horizon Oil Spill, veterans, and stress-related medical illnesses.


Dr. Richard P. Brown

Dr. Richard P. Brown is an Associate Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons where he obtained his medical degree 1977. The recipient of numerous awards, he has authored over 100 scientific articles,...

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books, and book chapters on pharmacological treatments, clinical studies, and complementary and integrative treatments in psychiatry.

Dr. Brown developed a comprehensive neurophysiological theory of the effects of breathing exercises on the mind and body, particularly its benefits in anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Dr. Brown gives over 100 lectures and courses every year. Since 1998, he has taught full-day courses on complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) as well as Mind-Body trainings for the American Psychiatric Association, other national and international conferences, veterans, and community service programs.


Somiari Demm, MA/M.Div, CYT, CTS

Somiari is a certified trauma specialist, a certified yoga teacher, and a certified breath body and mind teacher. Her areas of concentration include children and adolescents, trauma, mindfulness, and spirituality. She is a passionate scholar-practitioner in the...

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field of clinical psychology who has divided her time betweenclinical practice, training, workshops, and consulting. As a mental health practitioner, she uses mindfulness cognitive behavioral therapy (MCBT) and other evidence-based practices to help adolescent and adult clients with a wide range of emotional, and behavioral issues.

Somiari has received extensive training in the treatment of addiction, mental illnesses, affect regulation, and trauma. In her consulting work, she has provided bullying, violence, and trauma training for elementary and residential schools. In addition to clinical practice, for 3 years she worked as a consultant counseling Chibok girls that escaped Boko Haram.Somiari has been interviewed by 60-Minutes, CNN, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Reuters, BBC, and Aljareeza.

As a trauma thriver, her life experiences have fostered her love of, and dedication to the mental health field. Following the words of Gandhi, she believes that “purity of life is the highest and truest art.” Somiari also believes she is here to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, and with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. Through her work, she is enriching the world through love, healing, and peace


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