Clinical psychologist, author, certified life coach and parenting and relationship expert Dr. John Duffy spent a day at Parker speaking to the importance of self-care and care for one another during times of stress, depression and grief.
Dr. Duffy met with Upper School students in a special Morning Ex to connected with them on the concept of grief, acknowledging the five steps traditionally associated with the process—denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance—and pointing out that they are rarely experienced in a clean and linear fashion.
Duffy conveyed that grief takes many forms. Beyond loved ones lost, students around the world have missed out on countless experiences, celebrations, sports seasons, performances, rights of passage and more during the past two years due to the pandemic, and those losses should be honored, too.
Duffy was clear in pointing out that different people experience feelings in different ways and at different times, all of which are healthy, so it is of the utmost importance that each of them practice self-care and check in with themselves and their feelings throughout the day. He encouraged students to self-monitor for warning signs that they may need to seek additional help, such as persistent sadness, high anxiety, self-harm, deliberate self-isolation and like.
As another form of self-care, Duffy urged everyone to consider putting their devices down and engaging with their peers in clubs, athletics and extracurricular activities to balance out the apps, notifications and digital stressors that have become fixtures in each of their daily lives.
In reminding students of their responsibility to care for one another as a supportive community of learners, Duffy noted that everyone in the room was struggling with something and challenged each to check in with themselves and each other on a regular basis and, fundamentally, to be kind, stating, “The truth is, [kindness] is the antidote to a lot of what we are going through these days. There is simply not enough of it going around.”
Duffy also encouraged curiosity among students, suggesting they keep an eye out for the kid who sits alone and consider reaching out. “Be curious about someone different from you. You will learn something about them and probably about yourself too,” he said. Students should model kindness whenever possible and to go out of their way to ensure none of their peers feel isolated or socially rejected.
Later that day, Duffy met with Parker’s full faculty to share an abridged version of his student presentation and field questions. An evening presentation for parents and guardians took place in person in Parker’s Kovler Family Library and on Zoom.
View photos of his visit here
View a recording of the presentation here
More about Dr. John Duffy is available here