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
No moment exists in a vacuum – each moment occurs within a particular cultural context and brings its own social justice dilemmas. This reality impacts mental health professionals, the people with whom they work, and the relationships between them. This year’s annual conference focused on how professionals understand and make meaning of their trauma work in the context of what’s happening in the world, and how that affects what they bring into the room in a meaningful and effective way, which both supports the people they serve and sustains the professionals.
“Overwhelmed: The Cost of Doubt and the Promise of Collective Testimony”
Leigh Gilmore placed contemporary toxic stress in historical context. She examined how the MeToo movement has not only cast a light on the global problem of sexual violence, but also reawakened memories of abuse that demand a new hearing. The MeToo reckoning raises expectations that long overdue systemic change is imminent. Yet as soon as calls for transparent processes for reporting were raised, for example, they were swiftly countered with concerns about due process. So much seems to be changing, while so much seems stuck. How do we understand the reproduction of frustrated political, legal, and social reform as an aspect of chronic stress? Leigh Gilmore offered a perspective on this problem by revisiting Anita Hill’s testimony as the relevant touchstone for Christine Blasey Ford’s appearance at Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings. Because trauma and testimony are gendered and racialized constructs with lengthy histories, survivors exert agency in contexts that are marked by histories of silencing, including silencing other survivors and their advocates. But just as trauma is reawakened by the MeToo movement, so are testimonial strategies for gaining a hearing. These forms of testimony include collective witness in legal courts and the court of public opinion.
Leigh Gilmore is Distinguished Visiting Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies at Wellesley College and the author of Tainted Witness: Why We Doubt What Women Say About Their Lives (Columbia UP 2017), winner of a 2018 Choice Outstanding Academic Title award and recently issued in paperback with a new preface about the #MeToo movement. As a scholar of life writing and feminist theory, she is the author of the groundbreaking books, The Limits of Autobiography: Trauma and Testimony (Cornell UP 2001) and Autobiographics: A Feminist Theory of Women’s Self-Representation (Cornell UP 1994), the co-editor of Autobiography and Postmodernism (U Mass P 1994), and co-author with Elizabeth Marshall of Witnessing Girlhood: Toward and Intersectional Tradition of Life Writing (Fordham UP 2019). Her research on autobiographical literature, feminist theory, trauma, and testimony appears in scholarly journals, including SIGNS, Feminist Studies, Women’s Studies Quarterly, Biography, and Profession, and in numerous edited collections. She has been Professor of English at The Ohio State University and Dorothy Cruikshank Backstrand Chair of Women’s and Gender Studies at Scripps College, and has held visiting appointments at UC Berkeley, UC Santa Cruz, Northeastern University, Harvard Divinity School, and Brown University. She writes for The Conversation and WBUR’s Cognoscenti and appears frequently as an analyst of the #MeToo movement in national and international media. She is currently writing a book on the #MeToo movement.
“Helping Shape Narratives: Working with News and Newsmakers When Responding to Community Tragedies”
In the aftermath of a community tragedy, public narratives about the event play a key role in the acute and long-term response to such events and often have a significant impact on survivors and the clinicians working with them. Yet little training exists for the public, clinicians, and other public health responders on the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to work with journalists and respond to the news itself. This presentation reviewed controversies, evidence, and best practices to facilitate effective collaborations and consultations with journalists. There are many actions that professionals and the public can take in working with journalists to help shape the public narrative and understanding about traumatic events. These practicies and lessons learned have implications for creating healing narratives in social media and even in clinical work. For professionals, engaging with the news media, while understanding and implementing their rules of engagement, can itself become the path of advocacy.
Elana Newman, PhD, is a McFarlin Professor of Psychology at the
University of Tulsa, Research Director of the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma, and Co-Director of the Tulsa Institute of Trauma, Adversity, and Injustice at the University of Tulsa. She has conducted research on a variety of topics regarding the psychological and physical response to traumatic life events, assessment of PTSD in children and adults, journalism and trauma, and understanding the impact of participating in trauma-related research from the trauma survivor’s perspective. She is a past president of the International Society of Traumatic Stress Studies, the world’s premier organization dedicated to trauma treatment, education, research, public policy concerns and theoretical formulation.
“Healing Ongoing Traumatic Stress”
Highlighting Riverside Trauma Center’s understanding of self-care as an ethical imperative in human service work, this presentation talked briefly about and provide examples of skills for the “3Rs of self-care”: reflection, regulation, and relaxation. The majority of the presentation involved experiential learning with an EMDR Early Intervention technique called EMDR Integrative Group Treatment Protocol Adapted for Ongoing Traumatic Stress. This technique was initially developed to assist people living in times of disaster and war, but is now also being used to reduce distress among human service workers of all kinds. Additionally, participants had the opportunity to reflect on and build personal skill in their own trauma stewardship.
Marlene Kenney, LICSW, MA, Coordinator of the Trauma and Loss Counseling service at Riverside Trauma Center, has over 17 years of experience as a trauma clinician working with children, teens, and families. At Riverside Trauma Center, she conducts trainings on resilience, crisis management, and suicide prevention and postvention, and she responds to community disasters as part of the Trauma Team. She is an EMDR International Association Approved Consultant and practitioner of EMDR therapy, and is trained in a range of trauma and loss specific therapeutic modalities. Her Social Work Master’s degree is from the National School of Social Service at the National Catholic University and her Master’s degree in Anthropology is from Northeastern University.
The panel featured providers both living and doing the work in a range of different fields and bringing varied lenses speaking about their experiences and ways that they have found to stay engaged and balanced.
Participants will be able to:
9:00am Welcome & Introductions
9:15am Leigh Gilmore
12:00pm Lunch (included)
1:00pm Elana Newman, PhD
2:45pm Marlene Kenney, LICSW, MA
Other events run by reputable organizations in our field that may be of interest will be listed below when available.