Andrea Dorn is a mom, psychotherapist, and author of the new children’s books series the Mindful Steps which is aimed at helping children navigate life changes. I have read her new children’s book “When Someone Dies” and I found it exceptional at helping navigate the grief and bereavement process; I highly recommend it! (and… stay tuned, I have a surprise for you that’s coming at the end of the month!)
The Mindful Steps Series combines Andrea’s interest and background in behaviorism and mindfulness, and it was inspired after a year of major transitions in her life with two young children in tow. She found there was a lack of non-fiction, single-step resources for helping her own strong-willed child navigate and know what to expect during these big changes. In order to fill this gap, she became interested in writing children’s books and has discovered a true passion for the entire writing and publishing process. Let’s get to know her better!
How would you describe yourself in 10 words?
Hmmm, I’ll do my best here. I would say I’m pretty consistently: passionate, empathetic, curious, playful, resourceful, trustworthy, authentic, kind, thoughtful, and hard-working. 🙂
Tell us a bit about your background and how your love for psychotherapy led you to write children’s books.
I was drawn to psychotherapy at a point of transition in my own life and found a passion for working with people. As I progressed in my career, I witnessed so many of my clients and others in my life often struggle with transitions, and as a result, experience anxieties and traumas that impacted their ability to truly thrive in life. Many times, this difficulty with transitioning originated in early childhood.
This became a key focus when my own family transitioned with two young children moving 1000 miles across the country. Seeing my oldest son struggle with so many transitions in his life at the time sparked my drive to find resources to help support him. I was amazed at how there were many good books out there on various transition topics but very few that approached things in the way that followed the developmentally appropriate, stepwise approach that I was looking for.
As a therapist, I felt like I was in a unique position to provide a supportive resource to my own child, but also extend that impact by sharing important techniques with other children and families. One of my missions became to create resources that gently and respectfully help children work through transitions common in early childhood, while also instilling important skills like mindfulness, awareness, connection-seeking, and self-compassion. By introducing these concepts early and often we can help kids grow into working through transitions more easily as they age into adults. And so, the Mindful Steps Series was born.
What do you wish that children, parents, and therapists will take out of your books?
I hope that adults will find my books to be helpful tools in aiding them to guide their child through the sometimes challenging times that can come from early childhood development. I also hope my books will highlight transitions as important opportunities to develop coping skills and build secure and healthy attachments that will serve your child for a lifetime. I hope that children will gain a foundational confidence through these transitions that will create a sense of security in the idea that they can do hard things and thrive!
How can we as parents better support our grieving children while at the same time we are most probably also experiencing grief?
Grief is such a situational and nuanced journey and one of the most difficult parts about it is there is no “one-size-fits-all” advice or guidance to offer. One of the most important pieces of advice I can offer to parents or caregivers is to prioritize taking care of yourself. You can take care of yourself by doing things like giving yourself time to grieve, reaching out to others for help or connection even when you feel like being alone (though, be sure to take space for yourself if you need it), and by allowing yourself to authentically feel your emotions. This can not only give you the energy you need to be there for your child, but it can also model important skills they’ll need throughout their life.
Beyond that, play and expressive arts can be a cathartic and healing modality for both parents and children, alike. Children naturally use all types of play and art to process difficult emotions and situations and this can be effective for adults, too. So, if you or your child are in a particularly trying moment, see if connecting with your child on an art project, playing on a jungle gym, singing a song, playing with dolls, or another play activity of choice helps you to both to work through grief feelings in the moment.
What kind of resources would you recommend to better support a child going through the bereavement process? Any favorite books?
There are so many incredible resources out there. The resources I recommend as starting points for families include several websites: www.dougy.org, www.nacg.org, and https://sesamestreetincommunities.org/topics/grief/. These websites can point you to a variety of grief-related topics, books, and other resources that are supportive to families in grief.
There are also so many great grief and loss books for children. As a therapist, I tend to lean more toward non-fiction books. Books that are more abstract and symbolic are beautiful (and needed!) ways to describe loss and life, however, they can sometimes be challenging for kids, especially young children, to fully grasp. I still encourage reading those books, however, a non-fiction book like “When Someone Dies” is a great accompaniment to these books as a way to bridge the gap and help kids better understand some of the more abstract concepts that might be presented. A couple of titles that I often use in my practice besides my own include: “Ida Always,” and “One Wave At a Time” – also loving your book “Sunny’s Magical Headband” as an imaginative way to stay connected after someone we love dies.
What is your vision with “The Mindful Steps”, and where do you see yourself 5, 10 years from now?
There are so many transitions kids experience. I have quite a few more titles in the works and hope to keep regularly releasing books. I want to have a set of good resources for a variety of topics. My ultimate goal is to combine my private practice with my Mindful Families Organization and have a physical location where I create resources and work with families on parenting, transitions, and mindfulness, in person!
Tell us about your proudest achievement.
By far, my proudest and most cherished achievement has been becoming a mom. It is the best and hardest thing I’ve ever done and has inspired me to do so much more. It is truly my greatest honor in life.
What was your greatest failure and what did you learn from that?
I originally went to school for music – however, I am not currently a professional musician. I had some successes throughout my music career, but overall, quite a few great failures. I believe we find our purpose and meaning through our struggles. Without having to work through the struggle of letting go of (and grieving) a musical career and learning to settle my mind and find patience in finding the path that aligned with my true self, I would have never found psychotherapy or writing (which is something I would have NEVER pictured for myself). I know, without a doubt, working with people and writing is what I was meant to do all along. I just needed some time (and struggle!) to find my way here.
Who do you admire the most and why?
Throughout my life, I have had the great fortune of meeting some of the most incredible people – people who have inspired me tremendously (probably in ways they’ll never know!). However, it’s during my time as a therapist working with clients that I have met some of the most inspiring people. It’s the people who are vulnerable and willing to reach into the depths of their soul and work through their biggest fears – these are the people I admire most. They are the people who have changed the way I look at the world, and they are the people I aspire to be more like!
If you could know the absolute and total truth to one question, what question would you ask?
These are some thought-provoking questions! I think for me the answer is: What happens when/after we die? I think this is a question we all grapple with at some point during our lives, and it happens to be particularly relevant when we spend time thinking about our own mortality as we grieve the loss of someone close to us.
What’s the craziest thing you have ever done?
I wish I had a good answer for this one. I’m not the most adventurous person! When I was visiting Toronto I did the edge walk on the top of the CN tower. This consisted of walking around (outside) and hanging off the edge of the top of a 365m tall building. I’m terrified of heights so that was pretty crazy for me!
If you could travel back in time and give advice to your teenage self, what would that be?
These are such good questions! This is one I often ask my clients – it can be such a good self-compassion exercise to consider and connect with the important lessons you’ve learned throughout your life. I would tell my teenage self:
It’s not what others think or say that matters, it’s what you value and how you follow those guiding principles that helps you create a truly meaningful life.
I would also tell her:
You’re doing great. You’ll get to where you’re supposed to be when it’s your time and not a second sooner so enjoy as much of the ride as you can.
How can the readers get in touch with you, and where can they find your books?
I love to connect and am happy to help with questions about any of the topics discussed in my books! You can find me and lots of free resources at my website: www.AndreaDorn.com and you can connect with me on social media at: Instagram: @mindfulstepsseries, Facebook: @mindfulstepsseries and check out my children’s meditation songs on youtube: Mindful Steps Series Channel . You can find my books on Amazon or wherever books are sold!
Category: Interviews, Uncategorized