“Cultivating self-compassion as Latter-day Saints: How being kinder to ourselves can improve mental health and foster spiritual development”, Sara McPhee Lafkas, EdD, LCSW, and students, (1.0 credit) Not APA approved for online course
Presentation Summary: In modern life, there are increasing complex mental demands. Individuals often struggle to find balance while attending to family, professional, church, and other obligations. Mental health challenges such as depression or anxiety can occur when persons internalize pressure to fulfill life roles perfectly, or struggle to accept lack of control over every outcome. There is a growing body of research that suggests education about the concept of self-compassion, as well as cultivating self-compassion practice, can improve emotion regulation and mental health. Self-compassion practice may be particularly helpful for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, due to beliefs and practices regarding the importance of applying great efforts to fulfill family roles and church assignments. Developing self-compassion may foster improved mental health and greater spiritual development for Latter-day saints through the core practices of self-kindness, mindfulness, and connection to the common humanity (Neff, 2011).
Learning Objectives: Participants will be able to:
1. Describe the concept of self-compassion, and to summarize the three core components of self-compassion: self-kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness (Neff, 2011).
2. Recognize the differences between self-compassion and self-esteem.
3. Explain the benefits of self-compassion practice and to utilize self-compassion practice exercises.
4. Describe common barriers to the cultivation of self-compassionate feelings and practices
5. Summarize connections between self-compassion and spiritual development as addressed in empirical literature.
Biosketch: Sara McPhee Lafkas is an Assistant Professor of Social Work in the Department of Behavioral Science at Utah Valley University. She is also an independently licensed clinical social worker (LCSW). She earned a doctoral degree in Human Development and Psychology from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She obtained a master’s degree in social work from the University of Washington and an undergraduate degree in psychology from UCLA. In addition, she completed a graduate certificate program in the treatment of traumatic stress at the Trauma Center in Brookline, MA. Her clinical experience includes working as a psychotherapist in private practice, LDS Family Services, and at college counseling and community mental health service centers. In her clinical practice, she has worked mainly with adult and adolescent clients who have varied concerns, including anxiety, depression, trauma, family relationships, self-esteem, spirituality, and professional transitions. She has worked extensively with members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in clinical contexts.
Dr. McPhee Lafkas’ dissertation focused on Latter-Saint Women who experienced the divorce of their parents in childhood. She has presented on her dissertation research at numerous conferences and has also presented on other topics related to mental health, including self-compassion practice, depression, and abuse.
Dr. Lafkas is originally from California, where she started her career by working as an elementary school teacher and later as a child welfare specialist. She has taught multiple undergraduate and graduate level courses in the fields of social work and counseling. In her personal life, she is married and the mother of two active girls, ages 10 and 3. She enjoys her family, traveling, having dinners out, theater, museums, movies, and continuing to learn.