Sam Himelstein, Ph.D.

works as a Licensed Psychologist (PSY25229) in the Chemical Dependency program at Kaiser Permanente with teens and their families, in private practice in Oakland, CA, researches the efficacy of mindfulness-based interventions with incarcerated and underserved adolescent populations, is an author of multiple scholarly journal articles and two books, travels the country speaking at conferences and conducting professional trainings, and is the founder and president of the Center for Adolescent Studies. Dr. Himelstein is passionate about training professionals from multiple disciplines in creating authentic, healing relationships with adolescents that contribute to positive outcomes. A formerly incarcerated youth himself, Dr. Himelstein was privileged to change his life from a path of drugs, violence, crime, and self-destruction to that of healing and transformation. His mission is to help young people become aware of the power of self-awareness and transformation, and train professionals with similar interests. Learn more about his philosophy and approach in his books: A Mindfulness-Based Approach to Working with High-Risk Adolescents (Routledge, 2013), and Mindfulness-Based Substance Abuse Treatment for Adolescents: A 12-Session Curriculum (Routledge, 2015).

4 “Must Read” Books for Professionals Working with Traumatized Youth

Becoming a Trauma-Informed Youth Professional takes commitment and dedication. As we prepare for the launch of the new online course Trauma-Informed Care for Professionals Working with Youth at CAS, I can’t help but reflect on some of the seminal teachings that have influenced my work; specifically the foundational texts I’ve read numerous times. To that …

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The 4 Essentials of Being a Trauma-Informed Youth Professional

If you work with youth there’s a good chance you work with trauma. Trauma symptoms or adaptations as I like to call them (i.e., your mind/psyche finds ways to adapt to the difficult/dangerous experience for survival) manifest in many ways, from hyper-vigilance to flashbacks, from trust issues to dissociation, from altered world-views to avoiding specific …

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Mindful classroom management: A tried and true technique for getting youth back on track.

As I walked into the juvenile hall on a Thursday night to teach a mindfulness class, I contemplated the evening’s agenda. It was 2007 and I worked for the Mind Body Awareness Project as a mindfulness instructor; at the time we had no set curriculum. It was up to us as facilitators to develop our …

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4 Tips for Working with Marginalized Youth During the Holidays

As I entered the juvenile hall to teach a Thursday evening meditation class many years ago, I tried to prepare myself for the level of emotion that might arise: it was Thanksgiving Day. In hindsight, I don’t know if I could’ve better prepared myself for that evening. Youth were emotional because they were incarcerated and …

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3 Essential Tips for Working with Limited English Proficiency Youth

Guest Post by Catharine Hannay, Mindful Teachers — During a meeting at a refugee assistance organization, a psychologist described a problem she was having with one of her clients. “I think he must be lying about how he got to the U.S.” she said. “I mean, given the rest of his story, how could he …

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Trauma and the Brain: An Introduction for professionals working with teens

Trauma can be defined as a deeply distressing response to a real or perceived threat to one’s life. Trauma can result from events including, but not limited to, getting physically or sexually assaulted, sudden death of family members or close friends, being emotionally abused or neglected throughout one’s childhood, the result of a catastrophic environmental …

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6 Ways to Check-In with Teens

Group work with teens can be both challenging and extremely rewarding. One of the responsibilities we as facilitators are charged with is mixing up content to curtail boredom—the feeling in youth that can easily snowball into disengagement, detachment, and less buy-in. When facilitating group work, whether it’s therapy-based, skills-based, or even a traditional classroom (yes …

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Substance Abuse Treatment Does NOT Happen In A Vacuum

Most of us know that working with teens can be challenging. For those of us conducting drug treatment, we this can be an uphill battle that’s so difficult that we can’t stay attached to outcome, or we’d be constantly disappointed. Oftentimes teens that are chronic drug users have no interest in stopping their use, an …

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3 Basic Counseling Skills for Working With Teens

Working with teens has its own unique set of challenges and often times as providers we’re relegated to positions of listener, mentor, and guide, regardless of whether or not we’re actual therapists or counselors. I have known many teachers who build authentic relationships with their students and in turn their students feel more comfortable talking …

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