Our Annual Conference and Other Events - Riverside Trauma Center

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Our Annual Conference and Other Events

Our Annual Conference and Other Events

Riverside Trauma Center’s Annual Conference

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!”

Riverside Trauma Center’s 7th Annual Conference
Held on October 20, 2017

“Shifting the Narrative: Helping Adolescents
Recover from Traumatic Grief and Suicide Loss”

The conference provided useful ideas and strategies for helping adolescents who have experienced traumatic loss, especially loss following the suicide death of a peer. We presented current best practice concepts for responding to schools and community organizations. A significant focus of responding to violent loss, including suicide deaths, is the prevention of further suicides. We focused on how “changing the narrative” about suicide to traumatic loss leads to wellness and hope. Given the particularly important role of social media, we also addressed the ways in which social media and online experiences can help create a narrative of healing and hope.

When/Where: October 20, 2017; 9 am-4:30 pm; The Verve, Crowne Plaza, Natick, MA

Learning Objectives:


“Making Sense of the Map: Journeying with Teens Through Traumatic Grief and Helping Them Identify Healing Connections”
Navigating adolescence can be socially, emotionally, psychologically, and physically challenging and draining for the most normative of teens. On a daily basis, teens can find themselves lost in the flurry of expectations, demands, and changes. When the death of a significant person or a traumatic loss occurs it complicates the already complex developmental process. Which way should they go? Will there be more surprises or obstacles along the way? Who should they trust? How long until they get there? What if the journey is too exhausting – can they stop and turn back? Understanding and identifying the intersection of trauma, grief, and adolescent development can help validate an often overwhelming experience for young people. Differentiating between normative grief and traumatic grief and providing young people with safe, supportive environments to express their grief without judgment can be transformative. We explored what it’s like to journey with grieving teens, and look into creative ways of building connections to help them feel valued, recognized, and safe enough to tell their stories while finding hope on the road to healing.

Stephanie Handel, LICSW, is a child and family therapist who has over 15 years of clinical expertise in grief and trauma at the Wendt Center for Loss and Healing in Washington, DC. She is the coordinator and member of the Wendt Center’s RECOVER team, which provides early intervention bereavement support and crisis intervention at the District of Columbia Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. Stephanie serves as the Director of Camp Forget-Me-Not/Camp Erin DC, the Wendt Center’s three-day grief camp for children and teens who have experienced a loss due to death. Stephanie is a part of the Washington DC Department of Behavioral Health Crisis Response Team. She has presented, trained, lectured and published on topics of children, crisis response, traumatic death, death notification to children, attachment, trauma, domestic violence, grief, loss, play therapy, vicarious trauma, and alternative interventions.

“Can User-Generated Content (Still) Save Lives?”
When social media first emerged, we had big hopes for it as a tool for distributing public health messages. But now that Facebook comes baked into our phone operating systems, and Snap is a verb for both taking and posting an image, where do we stand? This talk compared user-generated content vs. agency-created social media, explored the ethics of incorporating consumer stories into our messaging, and highlighted tools that are currently available to reach users. We also looked at how user-generated content enters the real world to save lives, and how social media informs and then records those offline efforts.

Christopher Gandin LeChief Executive Officer at Emotion Technology, LLC in Austin, TX, works to save lives by working with social web companies, federal agencies, and policymakers to prevent suicide and promote mental health online. Christopher creates programs that link public health and technology at an international level.

He has helped launch many of the largest suicide prevention programs in the country, including the Suicide Prevention Resource Center, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, Veterans Crisis, and CrisisChat.org. He established the initial partnership between Facebook and suicide prevention, and co-wrote the Facebook policy on suicide prevention protocols in 2005. He has since helped Google, YouTube, Twitter, and Pinterest create similar policies.

His next big focus is to create mental health programs specifically built for people of color, and he is helping to relaunch an online harassment hotline to ensure that all users have access to a kind and open internet.

“Responding in Schools and Communities: Stories from the Field”
This presentation highlighted examples of experiences and challenges providing suicide postvention in schools and community settings, based on experiences across Massachusetts over the past 10 years with dozens of schools. The presentation was complemented by a panel of adolescents and young adults who shared what was helpful to them in the aftermath of the suicide loss of a peer.

Jim McCauley, LICSW,  is the Co-founder and Director of Riverside Trauma Center, and he has over 25 years of clinical experience and program management. He is an independently licensed social worker in Massachusetts with a Master of Social Work from Boston University. He has extensive experience providing therapy to children, adolescents, and adults. He has managed outpatient mental health clinics and programs for children for more than 20 years. He is a Senior Lecturer in the Sociology Department at Suffolk University and is trained to conduct psychological autopsy investigations.

Larry Berkowitz, EdD, is the Co-founder and Director of Riverside Trauma Center and has doctoral degree in Counseling and Consulting Psychology from Harvard University. He is a licensed Psychologist in Massachusetts with over 25 years of clinical experience and program management. He has an appointment as a Teaching Associate in Psychology, Part Time, at Harvard Medical School’s Department of Psychiatry, and he serves on the Executive Committee of the Massachusetts Coalition for Suicide Prevention, as the Co-Chair of the Northeast Massachusetts Coalition for Suicide Prevention, and was a member of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention’s task force on the needs of suicide loss survivors.


Other Events

Other events run by reputable organizations in our field that may be of interest will be listed below when available.