Brief Biography — Ann Brand, Ph.D.
People often wonder how I developed my interest and experience in mindfulness. Here is a little background on my personal and professional life to give you some insight into the work that I do.
I have been teaching courses and mentoring students in the School of Education at UW-Stout since 2010. Prior to coming to UW-Stout, I was an Adjunct Psychology Instructor for Campbell University in North Carolina for seven years. I started at the Camp Lejeune Campus and moved to online in Fall 2006. My previous teaching experience includes teaching undergraduates and supervising first-year graduate students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Prior to teaching at Campbell University, I was a research psychologist in the Section on Developmental Psychopathology at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) in Bethesda, MD. I worked on a study examining the role of emotion in the development of psychopathology in adolescence.
My specific research interests are in emotion socialization. I am interested in how parents socialize emotions in their children. Specifically, how do parents respond to the expression of emotion in their children? What do they do when their child is sad? Angry? Afraid? And how is emotion socialization linked to the development of psychopathology.
It was in staying current with research in the field of emotion that I first came across the practice of mindfulness. I read an article (Davidson, et al., 2003 to be exact) which showed that mindfulness practice changes the parts of the brain associated with positive affect and predicted increased immune response. I thought it was fascinating that a behavioral practice could produce observable changes in the brain and body.
The geeky-scientist side of me was amazed. But I did not practice mindfulness myself. I thought it was wonderful that others benefited from mindfulness but did not believe it was available to a Type A, list-making, hard-charging, mind racing person like myself. But I continued to read the research, being especially intrigued with the use of mindfulness practice in education.
Then, in 2010, my mother died after a long illness. I was struggling with my grief, and my counselor suggested that I try mindfulness. I told her, of course I know all about mindfulness and how it works, but mindfulness isn’t for me. Still, I was really suffering and I decided to give mindfulness a try. Mindfulness practice brought me calm, clarity, and peace at a very difficult time in my life and supported me in allowing myself to experience my grief.
Grief is an emotion that must be moved through and experienced. Stuffing it or ignoring it doesn’t work, trust me. Mindfulness practice didn’t make my emotions go away. I still felt the pain and sadness of grief and loss. But it gave me tools to be with my grief without feeling overwhelmed. This gave me some relief and helped me to be a more present mom, wife, friend, and teacher in the process.
At that point, my personal and professional interests began to merge. As I was teaching in education at UW-Stout, I began to search for ways to integrate mindfulness into teacher education. I saw educators dealing with some of the same emotional exhaustion and burnout I had experienced and wanted to share mindfulness tools to support them in being more healthy, present, effective educators.
I am the mindfulness program specialist with the Arts Integration Menomonie project where I teach mindfulness practice to educators, pre-service teachers, and artists. I also offer professional development workshops to educators around the state of Wisconsin and teach mindfulness classes to the community in Eau Claire, WI.
My education history is fairly traditional. I received a BA in Sociology from the University of Michigan. After graduating, I worked at the Veteran's Administration Hospital in Ann Arbor, MI, for two years as a research assistant in the psychiatry department before applying to graduate school.
I received a MA and Ph.D. in psychology with an emphasis on child and adolescent clinical psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In 2014, I completed a year-long teacher training program in mindfulness and am an accredited mindfulness teacher with the Mindfulness Training Institute.