Mindful + Pratique is a curated collection of approaches from the artistic and educational practices of Alena Ahrens, PhD, MFA, and Kathryn O’Brien, MAEd, PhD, LCSW. The methods arise from how individuals access the self and utilize energy to reach full potential. Alena and Kate’s vision is to equip individuals with the knowledge and tools to access their best selves. The partnership began when Alena and Kate were doctoral students collaborating on a project about human trafficking in the Midwestern U.S. They quickly realized their shared interests and passion for helping others reach empowerment and practice resilience. Each went on to build expertise. Alena’s scholarly interest in the intersection of psychological wellbeing and creative expression led her to the pursuit of additional expertise in visual and performance art at SAIC. Meanwhile, Kate pursued scholarship related to gender identities and human equality, carrying her interests into the community as a key volunteer-leader with Educators for Social Justice and as an inaugural member of the planning committee for the Transgender Spectrum Conference.

In April 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic the two reconnected. At the start they knew their shared interests remained firm, and that what could arise from their synergy would foster resilience and joy.

Mindful + Pratique was born.


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