“What we give attention, what we really pay attention to, can change how our brain is firing and wiring," said Dr. Tina Payne Bryson, keynote speaker at Porter-Starke Services’ tenth annual Living, Balance & Hope Symposium.
Held Thursday at Valparaiso University, this year’s symposium focused on engaging children and adolescents in mental health practices. Dr. Bryson works closely with young minds as Founder and Executive Director of The Center For Connection and The Play Strong Institute in Pasadena, California.
She and co-author Dr. Dan Siegel have written extensively about their experiences, most recently in their book, “The Yes Brain,” as well as in two New York Times Bestsellers, “The Whole Brain Child," and "No-Drama Discipline.”
"A 'yes brain' is open, receptive, it's willing to try new things,” Bryson said. “It's balanced, resilient, insightful and empathetic.” “No matter how old we are, the brain still has plasticity, or the ability to change," she said.
Elliott Miller, Director of Marketing and Development for Porter-Starke Services, was excited for the keynote address.
“I always get inspired to hear experts in the industry share their knowledge with us and with the greater community," Miller said.
The Living Health, Balance & Hope Symposium, Miller explained, is an annual educational event offered to clinicians that provide care in the community.
“But it also inspires anybody, regardless of their profession, to live a more healthy, balanced, hopeful life," he said.
"Our mission at Porter-Stark is to enhance the quality of life of our community. So this symposium is really an opportunity to do that," said Sandy Carlson, Vice President of Clinical Services at Porter-Starke Services.
As someone very familiar with Bryson’s work, Carlson was thrilled to be able to bring the expert to Valparaiso.
"I already have her books, and I was just really looking forward to meeting her and learning from her today along with my colleagues," she said.
Carlson is part of the team that selects the speaker each year. She said they look for someone who can really engage with people while also mirroring the strategic initiatives they have as an organization. This year, one of Porter-Starke Services’ priorities is enhancing their school-based services and work with children and families.
With two small children at home, Matt Burden, President and CEO of Porter-Starke Services, really appreciated Bryson’s advice.
"I think the big takeaway is for us to recognize when we're in the right zone as parents as well as when our kids are in the right zone for learning,” Burden said. “I think if we can remain aware of both of those things, it will help in the house."
He mentioned that he was particularly impressed with the group of attendees and the content of this year’s event.
"I do want to commend all of our team,” Burden said. “Every year, they put on a fantastic event. They really wanted the tenth to be special and I think it has been."