Every year Riverside Trauma Center holds a cutting-edge conference highlighting current trends, research, and approaches in the fields of trauma, suicide prevention, and resilience. The conference is a great opportunity to gain insight and knowledge about these topics and to network with peers. Events by other organizations are also listed below.
Hear what attendees have said about our conferences:
“Truly one of THE BEST conferences I’ve ever attended” –School Psychologist
“Best day-long conference I’ve attended over many years. Thank you!” –Grief Counselor
“This was a great conference. Caliber of presentations was outstanding. It fed
my brain and my heart.” –Social Worker
“The conference was excellent and I really liked the way you presented the Marathon
work. You guys organize some of the best conferences I have been to!” –Psychologist
Current increases in opioid overdoses and enhanced understanding of the neurophysiology of addictions have led to both the need and the capacity for more in-depth and complex understanding of substance use, addictions, and their treatment. This conference examined the various ways in which trauma, addictions, and co-occurring disorders intersect. Our speakers and panelists addressed how trauma often increases engagement in health-risk behaviors; how these behaviors and the ways in which society traditionally responds to them, may in turn cause increased toxic stress; and what can be done to address these complicated interactions.
“Finding a Path to Recovery from Trauma and Addiction”
This presentation provided an overview of “Finding Your Best Self,” a new recovery model for trauma and/or addiction. Much like the well-known model “Seeking Safety,” this one too strives to increase hope through emphasis on ideals. Some of the components of this model focus on the language of trauma and addiction, social pain, and why trauma and addiction go together.
Lisa M. Najavits, PhD, is a professor of psychiatry at Boston University School of Medicine, adjunct professor at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, and a clinical research psychologist in the Veterans Affairs Healthcare System. Her major clinical and research interests are substance abuse, trauma, co-morbidity, community-based care, and outcome research. She is a book author and author of over 190 professional publications. She is a practicing clinical psychologist in Massachusetts.
She has served as president of the Society of Addiction Psychology of the American Psychological Association; is an advisory board member for numerous professional journals and organizations; and has received various awards including the 2009 Betty Ford Award of the Addiction Medical Education and Research Association.
“How a Trauma-Informed Criminal Justice System is Fighting Addiction”
The ever-growing opioid problem impacts every community in this nation. It’s devastating to the lives of so many people; from the families of those addicted to the responders who try to save lives. No one is immune from the far-reaching effects of this public health crisis. In Vermont, police officers, mental health workers, healthcare professional, prosecutors, and addiction specialists are all working together to come up with innovative ways to address the issue. One way police officers are combating addiction is by gaining a greater understanding of the relationship between the repeated exposure to trauma, mental illness, and substance abuse. Training police officers to understand trauma will not only positively impact their ability to stay resilient, but provide perspective for grieving families and friends, and remove the stigma for those struggling with addiction.
Sonny Provetto, LICSW, is a licensed therapist, an EMDR clinician, and a trauma consultant for police departments and emergency responders in northern Vermont. His experience as a police officer and as an emergency mental health clinician at 911 have guided his clinical practice with first responders for more than 17 years. He currently consults on issues of stress and trauma with 10 Vermont police departments, including the Vermont State Police, as well as the Vermont Department of Children and Families.
Sonny recently testified for the Vermont legislature as a subject matter expert on PTSD and influenced legislation making Vermont the first state to recognize PTSD as a compensable work-related injury for first responders. Because of the new law, Sonny has established practice guidelines for the new and necessary PTSD evaluations for first responders to help practitioners, responder agencies, and adjusters understand and assess claims accurately and provide guidance towards a swift return to work, if possible.
“This is Your Brain on Adversity”
Using case examples and historical representations of substance use, this presentation explored how and why substance use and toxic stress intersect on both neurophysiological and sociocultural levels, specifically highlighting how the likelihood of substance use and addiction make sense / are understandable in the context of toxic stress.
Joanna Bridger, LICSW, is the Clinical Services Director at Riverside Trauma Center. She has worked with youth, families, adults, and communities that have experienced trauma in a wide range of settings in the U.S. and abroad for more than 20 years. She is responsible for responding to community disasters and providing trainings for the community on trauma, resilience, trauma-informed care, and suicide prevention and postvention. Joanna has an MSW from the University of Michigan with a concentration in Health and a Certificate in Traumatic Stress Studies from the Trauma Center at JRI. She has training in a range of trauma and loss specific therapeutic modalities.
Sarah Gaer, MA, is a Suicide Prevention Specialist at Riverside Trauma Center. She has 20 years of clinical experience with adolescents, adults, and elderly clients as well as with substance abuse, developmental disorders, major mental illness, and Traumatic Brain Injury. At Riverside Trauma Center, Sarah’s work focuses on providing suicide prevention training (Question, Persuade, and Refer) to working aged men and first responders, and responding to community disasters as part of the trauma team. She is a co-chair of the Pioneer Valley Coalition for Suicide Prevention. Sarah has experience in a variety of highly effective therapies, is a Master’s level clinician and graduate of Antioch New England University.
There was a panel presentation of people impacted by trauma, substance use disorders, and suicide who are working to change the ways in which those conditions interact. Panel members:
Paul Lavallee, Investor / Board Member of Herren Wellness, a residential substance use, behavioral health, and wellness organization in Seekonk, MA. Paul has been realizing the benefits of long-term recovery since 2005, the most important of which are the gifts of quality time with his family and living a healthy lifestyle.
Nicole LeBlanc, MSW, LICSW, a Trauma Integration Specialist for the Institute for Health and Recovery in Cambridge, MA, assists agencies by providing a wide range of consultation and trainings by incorporating trauma integration approaches to policy and staff development.
Ryan Morgan is the principal/director of Independence Academy, one of five Recovery High Schools in MA working with students struggling with substance use, addiction, and dependence.
Marian T. Ryan, Middlesex County District Attorney, will talk about Project CARE which has a mission to stop intergenerational trauma caused by opioid overdoses.
There was no commercial support or conflict of interest known for programs or instructors listed in this training announcement.
Other events run by reputable organizations in our field that may be of interest will be listed below when available.