Meet our Instructors
Karen Bluth, Ph.D has been practicing mindfulness for over 35 years and has attended numerous retreats at Insight Meditation Society, Southern Dharma Retreat Center, among others. She co-founded the Knoxville Interfaith Meditation Group in 1994, and practiced regularly with this meditation group for 18 years. Dr. Bluth received her mindfulness instructor training at the Center for Mindfulness at University of Massachusetts Medical School, and completed her doctoral training in 2012. Dr. Bluth’s research focuses on improving adolescent and family well-being through mindfulness interventions, and is particularly interested in how mindfulness practice can help adolescents navigate what can be a challenging developmental period. In addition to her mindfulness training, Dr. Bluth is a former educator with 18 years classroom teaching experience with children and adolescents. Dr. Bluth is a faculty member in the Program on Integrative Medicine, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, UNC School of Medicine.
Publications from Dr. Karen Bluth
The Self-Compassion Workbook for Teens: Mindfulness and Compassion Skills to Overcome Self-Criticism and Embrace Who You Are (An Instant Help Book for Teens) by Karen Bluth, Ph.D. This book provides tools for teens to deal with the nagging self-criticism that so many teens face and creates a pathway for them to love and accept themselves for exactly who they are.
The Promise of Self-Compassion for Stressed-Out Teens– New York Times 02-20-18, Karen Bluth discusses how “Making Friends With Yourself: A Mindful Self-Compassion for Teens and Young Adults,” how the program lowered stress in middle and high school participants.
How to Help Teens Become More Self-Compassionate– Greater Good Magazine 10-19-2017, Self-compassion may be key to supporting teen mental health. Dr. Karen Bluth shares lessons from her mindful self-compassion program.
How Can We Keep Teens From Killing Themselves? Dr. Karen Bluth discusses new research showing how being more self-compassionate can help.
Caroline Hexdall, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist and owner of the Center for Mindful Development, PLLC in Hillsborough. After working at UNC’s Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities and serving as the state consultant for school psychology, she returned to the rewards of clinical practice in 2013. At the Center for Mindful Development, she provides psychological services and mindfulness education, with a focus on mindful parenting.Dr. Caroline Hexdall is a licensed psychologist in North Carolina and a Nationally Certified School Psychologist. In graduate school, she focused on issues related to developmental disabilities, chronic illness and positive psychology, specifically hope, life satisfaction and subjective well-being. After receiving her doctorate in school psychology at the University of South Carolina, she completed her fellowship at the Center for Development and Learning (currently the Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities) at the University of North Carolina. During her nearly ten years at the CIDD, she provided evaluation and therapeutic services to children and adolescents with and without developmental disabilities. In addition, she consulted with community and state agencies, Head Start programs and universities on the evaluation of and service provision to children and adults with and without developmental disabilities. From 2008-2013, she served as the school psychology consultant for the NC Department of Public Instruction. Wanting to return to clinical work grounded in mindfulness, while continuing to make meaningful and positive change for all, Dr. Hexdall founded the Center for Mindful Development in 2013, focused on providing psychological services to all children, adolescents and families
William Frey, M.Ed., has been trained in a variety of stress management models, has served as an instructor of mindfulness-based stress reduction for the Program on Integrative Medicine since 2000, and currently works at the University as an organization and professional development specialist. He is a certified professional co-active coach and holds undergraduate degrees in psychology, chemistry, and medical technology and a master’s degree in education. Will is the author of Ease into Freedom: Keys for Reducing Stress and Unlocking Your Potential (2016).
Susan Gaylord, PhD, is Director of the Program on Integrative Medicine, Department of Medicine and Physical Rehabilitation at the School of Medicine at UNC Chapel Hill, is a senior student of Tibetan Meditation Master Trungpa Rinpoche and Sakyang Mipham Rinpoche, and has directed Shambhala and Buddhist meditation training workshops for over 20 years. She has completed the 9-day MBSR Intensive at the University of Massachusetts with Jon Kabat-Zinn and Saki Santorelli. She is founder and director of the UNC Mindfulness-based Stress and Pain Management Program.
Kessonga Giscombé, MS, L.Ac. is a Licensed Acupuncturist, Certified Holistic Health Counselor, and Mindfulness Meditation Instructor. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology and a Master’s of Science degree in Acupuncture from The New York College of Health Professions. He specializes in Japanese Meridian Therapy as well as Traditional Chinese Acupuncture. Mr. Giscombe also received his national certification for Holistic Health Counseling from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, located in New York, and has received training in Mindfulness from the Oasis MBSR Center at University of Massachusetts and the Program for Integrative Medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Mr. Giscombe has successfully treated patients who presented with an array of ailments, such as migraines/headaches, asthma, arthritis, hypertension, obesity, anxiety, digestive orders, and chronic pain.
Paula Huffman, BS, RN, ERYT holds a BS in Special Education, an NC License to practice as a Registered Nurse, and is certified as an Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher. She studied with the Center for Mindfulness at the University of Massachusetts with Jon Kabat-Zinn, completing MBSR training for health care providers and the 9-day MBSR intensive. She also completed a Mindfulness Teacher training through the Program on Integrative Medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Paula is currently teaching Mindfulness Foundation Courses with the Program on Integrative Medicine.
Paula Is also a perinatal educator and is trained as a Doula. She founded Whole Beginnings in the early 1990’s and has been providing services to expecting families since that time.
Paula has been actively practicing yoga and meditation since the 70’s. She incorporates these practices into her classes as well as her daily life.
Sasha Loring, M.Ed., LCSW, is a psychotherapist and meditation teacher who has been leading mindfulness programs nationwide for over 30 years. She has taught the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program at Duke and UNC, and the Mindfulness Training for Professionals programs at Duke Integrative Medicine. She has contributed to several mindfulness research projects, taught at Omega Institute, and is the author of the books Relief: Release Stress and Harmful Habits, and Awaken Your Best Self and Eating with Fierce Kindness: A Mindful and Compassionate Guide to Losing Weight. Sasha has spent considerable time in meditation retreats, the longest being for one year.
Kate Murphy first studied meditation and yoga with John Orr over 20 years ago. She completed the Duke graduate MBSR course, is a nationally board-certified teacher, and since 2009, a certified yoga instructor. For 10 years, Kate taught stress reduction painting classes at the Duke Diet and Fitness Center. Her work as a middle school counselor continues to inform and deepen her interest in mindfulness for teens.
John Orr received Theravada Buddhist ordination and training for a period of eight years while living as a monk in the 1970’s in Thailand and India. He has been teaching meditation and leading retreats around the country since 1980. John is the guiding teacher of the New Hope Sangha, which is a nondenominational community located in Durham, North Carolina that respects the wisdom of various spiritual traditions. He is on the faculty of Duke University where he teaches courses on Yoga and Meditation and Stress Management.
Laura Prochnow Phillips is a certified mindful self-compassion teacher based in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. She was trained by the creators of the mindful self-compassion program, Dr. Kristin Neff and Dr. Christopher Germer, through the Center for Mindful Self-Compassion and University of California – San Diego Center for Mindfulness, Mindfulness-Based Professional Training Institute. Laura has taught more than 20 MSC classes to adults with her co-teacher, Dr. Karen Bluth, since 2015. Laura was introduced to MSC through her work as a health, wellness, and lifestyle coach. She completed the Integrative Health Coach Professional Training at Duke Integrative Medicine and was in private practice for more than five years in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. She now devotes her time to teaching MSC to adults and teens.
Vera Lucia Moura, MD, MS-MBM, CIHWC, is a Brazilian psychiatrist/psychoanalyst with over 20 years of clinical practice in Brazil prior to immigrating to the US in 1990. While working at the University of Michigan Medical School (1995-2006), Dr. Moura completed the Professional Certification Program in Mind-Body-Spirit Medicine offered by the Center for Mind-Body Medicine, Washington D.C. At the University of Michigan Integrative Medicine, she facilitated Mind-Body Skills groups of students from a variety of health professions, as well as groups of women with history of abuse; she also conducted research on Mind-Body Medicine and Ancient Ways of Healing. She received her Master’s in Science in Mind Body Medicine from Saybrook University in January 2013.
Currently, she is completing a certification program in Integrative Wellness Coaching at Saybrook University. Dr. Moura is working as an adjunct instructor member in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation’s Program on Integrative Medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dr. Moura is skilled in various ancient healing methods derived from indigenous cultures, including Andean (Kichwa), African, Brazilian and Native American. Dr. Moura is committed to educating groups and individual clients on mind-body-spirt integration skills.
Macy Ratliff received her Master’s Degree in Speech and Hearing Science from the University of Washington and her Bachelor’s Degree from Middlebury College in Psychology and Elementary Education. Previous work experiences include serving as a rehab audiologist in a variety of settings for a range of populations. Most recently she was the primary instructor for the mindfulness portion of the Parent-Child Mindfulness Based Training Study at UNC. She is certified in several programs that are the foundations of the study’s mindfulness training, including “Mindful Schools” and Amy Saltzman’s “A Still Quiet Place”. Macy is also certified in children’s yoga (Registered Yoga Training). She has many years of experience creating mindfulness and yoga programs for students spanning preschool through high school throughout the greater Seattle and Chapel Hill areas. In addition to her passion for her work with children, Macy loves to travel and be outdoors. Her passions include swimming, kayaking, cross country skiing and paddle boarding.
Kim Zdanowicz, MA, CYT, CHC, is the Associate Creative Director of Behavioral Content at a healthcare marketing agency, Mindfulness Teacher, Certified Yoga Teacher, and Certified Health Coach. Kim incorporates Mindfulness into patient support programs in her writing in therapeutic areas such as: oncology, obesity, non-profit, narcolepsy, respiratory, hypertension, Type 2 diabetes, and others. She also teaches Mindfulness through UNC-Chapel Hill’s Program in Integrative Medicine, bringing her expertise in alignment-based yoga and mindful movement for all body types and stages of life into her practice. She works as a Mindfulness Coach with Duke Cancer and teaches yoga at her daughter’s preschool.