The Art & Science of Yoga Therapy with Persons Across the Lifespan

Derek Tice-Brown
Derek Tice-Brown

Practitioners employ yoga therapy interventions in schools, behavioral health agencies, senior centers, and other settings to address stress-sensitive mental health issues among marginalized and traumatized persons. These yoga therapy programs are met with varying receptivity. For example, some school districts spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to support yoga programming while others ban yoga instruction due to various concerns, such as the promotion of Hinduism. Similarly, some burgeoning research on the efficacy of these yoga therapy interventions produces the outcomes seen in the field and is promising. Some studies (Wang, et
al., 2021; Wang & Tice-Brown, 2021) have found that marginalized and traumatized children and adolescents receiving yoga-based interventions indicate improved outcomes, such as in emotion regulation, stress management, and prosocial values. Also, other investigations (Bonura, & Tenenbaum, 2014; Ko, et al., 2023) find that older adults demonstrate improved self-efficacy and mental health including decreased and sustained depression levels after yoga therapy sessions. Yet, the positive outcomes some researchers have found are difficult to replicate, jeopardizing support for these interventions in a polarized political environment.

Dr. Derek Tice-Brown will offer a workshop detailing these issues by broadly defining yoga therapy as a modality to foster psychological wellness, describing the intervention benefits indicated by mental health service recipients and their providers, and reviewing the current state of knowledge of its efficacy and effectiveness. Dr. Tice-Brown will document the current controversies in practice and research, such as politics, religion & spirituality, equity, and AI. He then will facilitate a discussion with the audience of the contemporary considerations in advancing yoga therapy as an intervention for mental health practice and research.

Learning Objectives:
  • To describe yoga therapy and its utility and evidence-base for persons with mental health issues focusing on children, adolescents, and older adults.
  • To identify how the use of AI may inform yoga therapy practice and research in the mental health field.
  • To illustrate the social justice and human rights issues that can arise in yoga therapy practice and research and the strategies to facilitate socially just treatment.
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