KEYNOTE SPEAKERS

Leah Harris

A Social Justice Approach to Resisting Burnout

"Burnout" is a concept that has been gaining in popularity globally. In 2019 it was identified by the World Health Organization as an "occupational phenomenon." Burnout is often framed in workplaces and by supervisors as an individual problem of workers, and the prescription is usually some form of "self-care." Leah Harris, drawing upon her own experience as a Trauma-Informed Peer Support facilitator, and the work of Canadian activist and community worker Vikki Reynolds, will share an alternative framework for understanding burnout through a social justice lens: "The Zone of Fabulousness." We’ll examine the importance of centering connection and resisting disconnection; witnessing our collective ethics; the roles of self-care vs. collective care; creating organizational cultures of respectful critique and accountability; and resisting traumatizing each other in our work.

Maria Sorois 

The Art and Science of Post-Traumatic Growth

Recent research in the field Positive Psychology brings to us an expanded understanding of how we might build resilience; an understanding that refers to positive psychological change that occurs following adverse events. This change, known as Post-Traumatic Growth, illustrates our capacity to develop increasing capacity after trauma or crisis or in the presence of chronic stress. We will highlight current research as well as present practical tools that can be applied at home or work, such as savoring the good and activating character strengths.

Wilda White

Shedding Shame: The Path to Personal Prosperity and Political Freedom

A protracted, psychotic manic episode left Wilda White homeless, jobless, and penniless. And after the psychosis and mania abated, Wilda found herself with no family, few friends, scarce employment prospects and deep shame. In this keynote presentation, Wilda shares how she transformed her life by shedding shame and achieving in the process purpose, prosperity and political freedom.

BREAKOUTS

3 Essential Connections

Hilary Rudenauer

Jessica Goldman

Paul Acker

The term shadow refers to the darker, unacknowledged side of the psych that forms throughout our childhood. Often referred to as our unconscious, what exactly is our shadow and how does it impact our lives? In this breakout, we will gain a deeper understanding of the shadow concept and begin to explore our own shadow selves. Prepare to meet and greet your shadow as a part of the larger 3 Essential Connections experience. Come with an open mind and willingness to met your shadow self. 

Acknowledging and Expressing Joy

and Stress through Painting

Heidi Viener

Participants will utilize the creative expressive art mediums of writing and painting as a way to express their stressors and joys.  Through a guided meditation individuals will write common daily stressors, acute personal stressors, and joys on provided cardstock. Participants will then choose paint colors from provided paints to represent each and will be guided to paint over the words to create a unique representational art piece. Both joy and stress are unique parts of our emotions and personalities and lives. Through this breakout individuals will have the opportunity to embrace and express both, knowing both are important aspects of our unique authentic selves. 

Afyia House: A Peer Run Respite providing an Alternative to Psychiatric Hospitalization

Cindy Marty Hadge

Sera Davidow

 When what is frequently called a crisis is approached as an opportunity lives can be transformed. Do you have questions about peer run respites; What is the mission of a peer respite?  Who is it for?  What does a stay at a peer respite look like and how is it different than more conventional services? What are some of the likely outcomes and challenges? How to maintain integrity while seeking funding?

Representatives from the Western Mass Recovery Learning Community will share their 7 plus years of experience opening and running the only Peer Run Respite in Massachusetts . 

Anchor Health Initiative (A New Approach to LGBTQ Healthcare)

How does a clinic centered around patient-care for the LGBTQ community operate and what crucial services do they provide? What does it mean to be fully trans-competent? What roles are necessary to make this work? Learn from a representative of Anchor Health Initiative how to make healthcare accessible, comfortable, and catered to the LGBTQ population and best practices for maintaining LGBTQ spaces.

Layne Gianakos

Authentic Relating Games: Compassionate Relationships and Emotional Wellbeing

Authentic Relating Games are a collection of extensively tested, masterfully led experiences that are designed to create deep connection, boost empathy, and train body awareness. Participants are challenged to listen and reflect in real time, to share emotional states, and to become self-aware within connection. Participants walk away with a profound sense of well-being, and an experiential toolkit that they can use right away to improve every part of their lives.

Kristen Larson-Samalus

Breakdown to Breakthrough

Often times when we experience pain and suffering we come to believe that we are being punished or doomed. The darkness can feel cold, lonely and permanent. In understanding the process a seed undergoes, we may recognize our growth also resembles a similar cycle. In this session we’ll explore how the barriers that have protected our raw and vulnerable core can build pressure and intensify our pain until finally something new emerges into the light, allowing us to let go of what no longer supports us. We’ll look at how pain, grief and trauma can transform from breaking us down to becoming our breakthrough. We’ll arrive at how our own unraveling and destruction can help us let go and rebuild from a deeper, stronger foundation that supports and defines not who we were, but who we are becoming. No tree standing tall and wide was not once a tiny seed buried in the ground. 

Corey Hudson

Bridging into the Community after Psychiatric Hospitalization

Establishing and maintaining mutually authentic, deeply meaningful relationships with others serves as food to our soul and nourishment to the most basic human needs of connection and belonging; birthing compassion, cultivating resilience and promoting healing as an antidote to the dehumanizing culture rampant in our mental health system. Drawing from personal experiences of recovery while employing the skills of Intentional Peer Support and practice of compassionate communication, the Certified Recovery Support Specialists of the Bridger Program at Advocacy Unlimited Inc. provide support, advocacy and education to individuals of all ages and abilities in transition from inpatient psychiatric facilities and other institutional settings back into the community; assisting as they begin to rebuild their lives and embark on a journey to true healing.

Char’Dornne Bussue

Emotional CPR as a Way to Be With and Support People in Altered States

Latosha Taylor

Oryx Cohen

People who seem unreachable when they shift into altered states to heal from trauma can be reached using Emotional CPR (eCPR) through emotional dialogue. Ways of engaging in emotional dialogue will be demonstrated. Use of eCPR can reduce the over-reliance on hospitalization and medication, reinforcing the authentic, nonclinical response of peers. The presenters will share their personal experiences with being in altered states (often labeled psychosis) and helping others in those states. Those experiences have helped us and others with lived experience to develop Emotional CPR as a way of learning nonverbal and verbal ways of communicating with persons in altered states that can reduce use of hospitalization and medication.

How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness

This session will challenge the audience to delve into their subconscious as well as their past experiences and explore how it ties into who they are today. It will also encourage them to look at the bigger picture, including God, spirituality, the universe and the law of attraction.  Ultimately the goal will be to engage the audience through activities and thought provoking discussions on their own greatness.

Marco Stanley

Making Room for Conversations about Substance Use and Thoughts of Suicide

Cindy Marty Hadge

Mike Cook

Using the values of the Western Mass Recovery Learning Community's originated approach of Alternatives To Suicide Groups this workshop will create a space to explore some of the many ways substance use and thoughts of suicide can be present at the same time in one's life. In a non judgmental space, we will approach each other with curiosity speak to both our relationships to substance use and thoughts of suicide and a variety of ways people navigate those relationships.  

Masterful Self Care: Managing a Healthy Distance

How do we activate self-care to prevent burnout? How do we care professionally while building relationship? What is it like to hold on and let go from a healthy distance?  These questions are at the heart of our conversation about masterful self-care. Using perspectives from the field of positive psychology we will explore crucial elements to self-care, elements such as positive self-regard, self-compassion and of course, learning to say no, that enable us to become wiser about the distance between ourselves and those we serve. We'll take note of where we are most vulnerable in terms of the symptoms of burnout and compassion fatigue and we'll examine what currently works well in our relationships with clients, coaches and patients and build a plan for our next best steps.  

Maria Sirois

Navigating Tough Voices: When Voices Speak of Death

Tasha Pearce

 Mike Mansur

How do we support people to find meaning when a voice speaks of death, or otherwise encourages the voice hearer toward harm? This workshop – facilitated by two voice hearers who hear voices that tell them to die -  will focus on what it takes to move through fear, build understanding, uncover hidden meanings, and effectively support someone to navigate these types of experiences. The discussion will also provide an overview of and be rooted in the principles of the Hearing Voices Network, a worldwide movement connecting voice hearers and visionaries.

Shedding Shame, Transforming Lives: A Workshop

In this interactive workshop, participants will have the opportunity to audit their own lives to think deeply about shame and whether it is holding them back from genuine flourishing. The facilitator will share tools and frameworks she used to confront and banish shame from her life, which much to her surprise, set her free to live the life she always envisioned but never quite actualized.

Wilda White

Sound Healing

Sara Balkun will guide you through a gentle breathing practice, a simple grounding meditation and close with a soothing sound bath. Let the vibrations of the drum, singing bowls and chimes simply wash over you and bring healing to your unique mind, body and heart. There will be an opportunity to share your experience if that speaks to you. 

Sara Balkun

Spiritual Awakening/Crisis: A Means for Growth and Transformation

Judy Murray, R.N., Founder of Dignity and Advocacy Network, Advocacy Unlimited Board Member and HVN facilitator for youth will share the story of her family’s struggles with our traditional mental health system ending in her son Dan's suicide. She will talk about the unusual experiences associated with a spiritual crisis along with triggers and effective approaches in guiding one through this misunderstood transpersonal process.

Judy Murray

Tension, Stress, and Trauma Releasing Exercises (TRE): Introductory Workshop

TRE is a revolutionary technique to release stress or tension from the body that accumulates from everyday circumstances of life, difficult situations, immediate or prolonged stressful situations, and traumatic life experiences. Using six modifiable exercises, TRE helps to release deep tension from the body by evoking self-controlled muscular shaking. The process is unique in that this shaking originates deep in the core of the body, producing gentle tremors that reverberate outward along the spine, releasing tension from the sacrum to the cranium. To learn more about TRE, visit: traumaprevention.com.

Leah Harris