Full Course Description

Modules 1-8: Enhancing Executive Function: Going Beyond the Prefrontal Cortex‚Äč


Principles of Executive Function

  • Attention and sustained focus
  • Engagement and initiation
  • Optimization and monitoring
  • Efficiency and sequencing
  • Memory storage and retrieval
  • Inquiry and analyzing
  • Solution and organization
  • Holarchical Model of EF

Levels of the Whole Person

  • Physical – movement, posture and anatomy
  • Breath and physiological systems
  • Intellect – cognition, self-expression and sensory
  • Personality – preferences, values and behaviors
  • Emotional tone and the subjective
  • Brain development & autonomic nervous system (ANS)
  • Pruning and the use it or lose it principle
  • Vagus nerve’s relation to physical and emotional effects

Effects of Stress on EF

  • The effect on neural networks
  • Cortisol and fight/flight effect on the brain
  • The differences between fear and anxiety
  • Getting to the basis of anger and frustration

The Gut Brain

  • Enteric nervous system: the “second brain”
  • Neurotransmitters in the gut that affect mood
  • The ADHD-gut connection
  • Enhance mood and memory through nutrition

Sensory Processing

  • 3 developmental levels of regulation
  • Swings effect on the Reticular Activating System
  • Adjustments in sensory input to create balance
  • Calm the sympathetic nervous system thru sensory input

Strategies to Develop Healthy Habits

  • Using your mind to change your brain
  • The power of thought and visualization
  • Routines and steps to build habits
  • Method of enhancing neurogenesis and neuroplasticity

Yoga, Mindfulness and Meditation Principles

  • Mind-body-breath connection
  • Yoga poses for self-regulation
  • Interoception to build deeper self-awareness
  • The power of the pause

Breath and Regulation Techniques

  • Using breath to affect arousal levels
  • Increasing and decreasing heart rate and blood pressure
  • Supports movement and posture
  • Techniques for focus, delayed gratification and processing in the pause

Sensory Processing Strategies

  • Using the sensory systems to promote self-regulation and calm the sympathetic nervous system
  • A look at rhythmicity and touch as factors in enhancing EF

Attention-Memory Connection

  • Learning requirements for memory
  • Emotion-motivation connection
  • Intrinsic motivation to enhance processing
  • The driving force of optimism and hope
  • How multi-tasking is counter-productive
  • Strategies that support focus and recall

Putting the pause on Impulsivity

  • Marshmallows: the importance of learning to wait
  • Anti-rush therapy to promote waiting
  • Do-overs to teach healthy alternatives

Self-Generation and Self-Determination

  • Promote delayed gratification, self-monitoring, task initiation, emotional control
  • Supporting persistence to stick with dull and challenging activities
  • Allowing time for processing, planning and self-correction

Strategies for Healthy Social Connections:

  • Using the whole self as a therapeutic tool: emotion, modeling and positioning
  • The power of relationship in therapeutic effectiveness
  • Cuing and facilitation to promote participation, engagement and increased independence
  • Teaching tolerance and other awareness

Treatment Strategies for Challenging Emotions

  • Decreasing stress to facilitate EF
  • Understanding fear, as the basis for many challenging emotions
  • Using the teachable-moment “failures”


  1. Explore challenges in executive function through integrative techniques and a whole person perspective.
  2. Explain the significance of brain development and the autonomic nervous system on executive functioning.
  3. Apply effective yoga poses that create alertness and those that calm and facilitate focus.
  4. Explore the mindfulness – meditation continuum and how to use these techniques to enhance executive functioning.
  5. Identify breath-related strategies that support self-regulation.
  6. Describe the gut-brain connection and how it can affect executive functioning.
  7. Explain the emotion-motivation-attention-memory connection and how to facilitate toward learning and recall.
  8. List strategies to develop healthy habits and self-discipline.
  9. Explore strategies to get around the “shut-down” effect that stress and anxiety play on EF.
  10. Describe 2 new techniques that diminish impulsive behaviors and facilitate delayed gratification.
  11. Describe a new perspective of therapeutic use of self and the environment to help promote healthy social connections.
  12. Identify strategies to help your client learn to take more ownership of their own well-being.
Copyright : 03/23/2017

BONUS! Improving Executive Functions: Strategies to Rewire the Brain and Change Behavior


Executive Functions (EF) Overview

  • The neuropsychology of Executive Functions
  • Levels, domains of functioning, arenas of involvement
  • A closer look at the self-regulation level:
  • 7 clusters encompassing 33 functions
  • EF development over time
  • EFs, DSM 5® diagnoses, educational classifications

Develop an Intervention Plan: Assessment of EF Strengths and Weaknesses

  • A multidimensional model to guide assessment
  • Norm referenced tests, rating scales and diagnostic interviewing
  • Assessing the impact of EF difficulties on academic learning and production
  • Learning difficulties versus producing difficulties
  • EF-driven Functional Behavior Assessment

Strategies for EF Development and EF Difficulties

  • Create an environment for positive change
  • Develop and use growth mindsets
  • The EF intervention continuum
  • Orienting strategies that focus on goals and outcomes
  • External strategies for modifying behavior: Cueing, prompting and thinking aloud
  • Bridging strategies from externally controlled to internally self-regulated
  • Internally self-regulated strategies: Strengthen independent functioning

Evidence-based Programs and Resources to Foster Growth

  • Develop EFs in pre-school and kindergarten
  • Problem-solving models and programs
  • Cognitive strategy instruction and cognitive behavior therapy
  • Technology-based approaches
  • Mindfulness techniques and EF growth


  1. Examine a comprehensive neuropsychological model of executive functions.
  2. Communicate how executive function difficulties are manifested in individuals diagnosed with various psychological disorders and/or enrolled in special education programs.
  3. Apply effective assessment techniques based on a multidimensional framework to determine executive function strengths and weaknesses and to target specific intervention needs.
  4. Determine strategies that are appropriate for fostering executive function development and/or for intervening when executive function difficulties are identified.
  5. Implement strategies that bridge the gap between “external control” and “internal self-regulation”.
  6. Determine and access sources of information about evidence-based programs that foster executive function development and/or remediate difficulties.
Copyright : 02/16/2017