VIP Kickoff Event Wednesday, June 19, 2024

6:00 pm – 8:00 pm

This event is to show our appreciation and celebrate our conference partners, sponsors, and VIP guests.

Exhibitors are invited to load-in and set up their tables while enjoying food, drink, and networking with fellow guests and the event production staff. We will be serving a lite fare dinner.

Conference Thursday, June 20, 2024

8:00 am – 9:00 am

Use this time to get settled in, enjoy a quick bite to eat and visit all of the exhibitor tables

9:00 am – 10:30 am
Morning Keynote (1.5 CEU)

Provocations and Considerations

The advent of Large Language Models (LLMs), and in particular the release of ChatGPT by OpenAI in November of 2022, has ignited a discourse of the utility of LLMs and other AI tools for addressing a range of social problems. The introduction of these tools into the mainstream of society has significant implications for the mental health field. LLM technologies have been introduced in areas of mental health practice as banal as the transcription and production of session notes and integration with electronic health records to more high stakes applications, such as directly delivering client care. Computer science and engineering have a long time interest in using digital strategies for improving mental health care, while mental health practitioners have not always been early adopters of digital and now AI therapeutic enhancements. Dr. Lauri Goldkind, a public interest technologist, and Dr. Derek Tice-Brown, a behavioral health practitioner, will present examples of AI implementations across the mental health field. They will offer examples from both the provider and client perspectives. Using a conversational format, the pair will debate the benefits and risks of using AI in Integrative Mental Health grounding the conversation in frameworks of social justice and human rights. Topics such as algorithmic bias, the client-worker therapeutic relationship, human connection, service access, assessment, intervention, and service outcomes will be discussed. They will also offer real world examples of how clients are engaging with non-human provided treatments and supports. During the second half of the session, Drs. Goldkind and Tice-Brown will facilitate an interactive discussion with the audience of the utility of our enhanced AI systems for mental health practice, research, and education.

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10:30 am – 10:45 am

Stretch your legs and continue visiting with our exhibitors

10:45 am – 12:15 pm
Concurrent Morning Workshops (1.5 CEU)

Integrating the Science and Practice of Breathwork for Mental Wellness

In this conference session, participants will delve into the transformative potential of breathwork within the integration of somatic practices in mental health counseling. The session commences with a comprehensive exploration of the science behind breathwork, exploring its profound impact on the brain and nervous system and its capacity to foster greater presence. Various breathwork techniques, such as diaphragmatic breathing, coherence breathing, and the physiological sigh will be introduced, emphasizing their scientific foundations and immediate applicability. The session will delve into the specific role of breathwork in reducing anxiety, providing participants with insights into its ability to regulate the autonomic nervous system and enhance emotional well-being.

Each inhalation and exhalation allows us to access the peace, presence and calm that is our natural state of being. We will explore the implications of intentional breathing to balance the nervous systems and tap into the totality of infinity that is available to each person.

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The Benefits of Touch Therapy in Integrative Care

The workshop intends to introduce clinicians to the relationship between the skin and the nervous system and demonstrates the powerful effects therapeutic touch can have on mental and physical well-being. While traditional psychotherapy has primarily focused on cognitive clinical interventions, a growing body of research evidence shows that sensory stimulation of the skin can induce comfort, calm, and pain relief by stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system, thereby providing effective approaches to treating anxiety, depression, and other trauma-related presentations (Elias & Abdus-Saboor, 2022). 

Through a combination of theoretical lecture and practical exercises, clinicians will learn about the neurophysiology of touch and discover how tactile stimulation affects the limbic system, the area in the brain that is responsible for emotions, social behavior, motivation, and memory. Aspects of brain and nervous system functioning will be considered in the context of understanding and treating trauma through a body-focused approach. Different psychological theories and concepts will be explored from a somatic perspective and the importance of integrating the body as an integral part of the human experience will be discussed. Through simple body-based exercises, participants will experience the effects of conscious touch on their own physical and emotional regulation as well as learn simple techniques to apply with clients. 

This workshop also wants to help clinicians think outside of the box and open to interdisciplinary collaborations with other practitioners to jointly develop integrative healing approaches. Participants will be introduced to a variety of bodywork modalities, including Craniosacral Therapy and Somato-Emotional Release, and learn about current research that has shown how these therapies can be effectively used as an adjunct to mental health services. Different community service engagements implemented with a variety of different populations  will be introduced to showcase how clinicians and bodywork professionals can work together to bring trauma-informed care to those in need.

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In the workshop, participants will delve into the intricate relationship between the brain and the gut at a biological level. Throughout the session, attendees will unravel the significance of gut health in the context of mental illness, shedding light on how our dietary choices profoundly impact our mental well-being. Through a comprehensive exploration, participants will gain insights into the mechanisms underlying this connection, equipping them with a deeper understanding of how diet influences mental health outcomes.

The workshop aims to empower participants with actionable knowledge and practical strategies to enhance mental well-being through dietary interventions. By examining the intersection of nutrition and mental health, attendees will uncover evidence-based practices to support optimal brain function and emotional resilience. Moreover, through interactive discussions and case studies, participants will learn how to implement dietary modifications effectively, fostering a holistic approach to mental health maintenance.

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A Collaboration of Spoken and Unspoken Connection and Healing

In the realm of equine therapy, healing is not just a destination but a journey of self-awareness, growth, and transformation. It is a reminder that sometimes, the most profound connections are forged in silence, where words are unnecessary, and the heart speaks the language of empathy and compassion. Through the healing power of the equine-human bond, individuals find solace, strength, and a renewed sense of hope as they navigate the complexities of life’s challenges. Participants will explore the profound impact of equine therapy on client growth and healing.

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Often, when people have a history of trauma, the coping skills that function to help them survive, become a barrier to healing. Some of the common defenses that hinder the process of healing in adults are intellectualization, rationalization, projection, somatization and even dissociation. With Children, trauma or stress may present as impulsivity, hyperactivity, poor social skills and poor school performance.

Sand Play Therapy allows the person to tap into the psyche and the body. Through the use of symbolic figures, a person is able to create in the sand stories that examine their wounds, the effects from these wounds, and the possibilities for resolution. The clinician is then able to help a person connect insights to emotions and body sensations and begin the journey towards healing. Through Sand Play Therapy, the adult client is able to build the skills necessary to avoid problematic patterns of the past. Children’s thoughts and feelings are given a voice through symbolic play, enabling them to resolve their issues in a language they understand.
During this hands-on training, participants will experience the power of Sand Play therapy, through individual and group processes. The use of symbolic figures naturally incorporates cultural competence. Figurines include a multitude of cultural and religious pieces, allowing individuals to see themselves and their lineage, while processing individual and collective issues. Universal symbolism allows for equality, transcending barriers of power and privilege. These facets, along with the personal and collective unconscious, naturally lend to the addressing of social justice issues.

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Explore the complex nature of gender identity with a focus on the experiences and emotions of transgender individuals. Challenges Faced by Transgender Youth. Creating a Safe and Inclusive Environment, Supporting Mental Health and Well-being. Therapeutic Support, Emotional Validation, Self-care and Coping, Providing Access to Healthcare and Resources and how to be an ally.

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For Mental Health Practitioners Clinical Classification

This course seeks to provide practitioners with an overview of Psychedelic Assisted Therapy (PAT) including the use of ketamine, MDMA and psilocybin. The field of PAT is changing and evolving, with new laws being introduced at a rapid pace. This form of therapy can be vital for race and gender related trauma work and healing.

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12:15 pm – 1:00 pm

Grab your lunch and head on over to our afternoon keynote, lunch and learn style!

1:00 pm – 2:30 pm
Afternoon Keynote (1.5 CEU)

And Panel Discussion

This session champions the reality that mental health is not binary. Everyone’s mental health lives and moves on a “continuum,” or in simpler words, a “Scale” that stretches from “Thriving” to “Sinking.” The most common question asked every day is: “How are you?” Because there is no common language in mental health, the most common answers are: “Good, Fine, OK.” None of these are actual responses, nor do they help us see trends or track changes in the way we think/feel/function/perform.

This interactive workshop introduces the SameHere Scale (based on “Polyvagal,” Dr. Stephen Porges) in both hard copy and app formats. Participants will learn about the balance between our sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system responses, and how that balance can be compromised. They will learn about movement on the SameHere Scale – and how someone’s Scale “position” can be discovered based on their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors they are experiencing. Attendees will walk away with a common language to do check-ins with patients, clients, students or whomever attendees do their clinical and/or advocacy work with.

A panel discussion will examine how this language can be brought into various integrative modalities.

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2:30 pm – 2:45 pm

Continue visiting with our exhibitors and don’t forget to check out our Eco-Gallery on the lower level!

2:45 pm – 4:15 pm
Concurrent Afternoon Workshops (1.5 CEU)

Art Therapy Approaches for Healing and Growth

Discover the intricate layers of grief and the transformative potential of art therapy in this insightful workshop. Participants will delve into the paradoxical nature of grief, unraveling its complex emotional landscape. Through a blend of theory and practical exercises, attendees will explore how art therapy provides a powerful avenue for expression and resilience-building in the face of loss. Join us as we explore practical strategies for integrating art therapy interventions into counseling practices, empowering individuals to navigate their grief journey with greater understanding and healing.

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In the workshop, participants will delve into an examination of the complex dynamics shaping the psychosocial needs of older LGBTQI+ individuals. Through the lens of intersectionality, attendees will delve into the intricate interplay of race, age, gender, sexual expression, sexual orientation, disability, and class, gaining valuable insights into the multifaceted experiences of this demographic. Facilitated discussions and case studies will illuminate how these intersecting identities converge to influence the mental health and well-being of aging LGBTQI+ individuals, highlighting the imperative for tailored and inclusive support frameworks. Throughout the workshop, participants will not only deepen their understanding of the unique challenges faced by aging LGBTQI+ populations but also explore the transformative potential of an integrated mental health approach.

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The Holistic Healing Power of Horses

Participants will explore equine assisted psychotherapy fundamentals, benefits, and the impact of this unique intervention. Discover how rescue horses are partners in holistic interventions, employing a strengths-based approach. Uncover barriers to accessing this therapy and strategies to eliminate them.

Sara and Brooke are EAGALA certified.

The workshop is at the rescue farm in Freehold working with the horses.

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Nurture for the Heart of Our Connection

In a world where a global pandemic violently swept our lives empty of its social experiences, and threw our clients and a whole generation of kids into disconnect, where and how can we plug back into each other? Our clinical work was overwhelmed by the intensity of fear, agitation and an unsettling divide that set in. Therapeutic relationships and our ability to co-regulate with clients was forced onto a tiny screen, while we sat alone in separate rooms. Many of us are still working this way, but is it working? How are we actually?

Nature is the nurture for the heart of our connection. It is the way back for all of us. Nature is the gentle and subtle medicine that our nervous systems need. We can use eco-regulation, the calming regulating effect of being in nature, as the starting place for turning off the screens and back on to each other. For our clients, nature can open the path to safety and reconnection, the state and conditions where healing becomes possible. You are invited to come explore the wild communion that is Ecotherapy.

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Healing Individual’s Parts with Somatic Internal Family Systems (SIFS)

In this workshop, participants will be introduced to the Internal Family Systems Model of Psychotherapy (IFS), which has been empirically validated and shown to be effective across diverse populations. Developed by Richard Schwartz PhD, with contributions from Susan McConnell, the IFS model provides a comprehensive framework for understanding and addressing psychological issues. This session will focus particularly on the Somatic Internal Family Systems (SIFS) approach, which incorporates somatic awareness, conscious breathing, radical resonance, mindful movement, and attuned touch. By deliberately attending to bodily sensations, breath patterns, movements, and energetic patterns, SIFS aims to facilitate healing and resolution of body-based trauma symptoms.

During this introductory training, participants will have the opportunity to engage in basic Somatic IFS practices, allowing them to experience the transformative power of this integrated therapeutic strategy firsthand. The use of IFS and SIFS has been shown to foster healing across various dimensions—psychological, physical, relational, and social—highlighting the fundamental right of every individual to achieve holistic well-being. This workshop equips clinicians with additional tools to enhance their clinical practice and effectively support clients from diverse backgrounds.

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Practitioners employ yoga therapy interventions in schools, behavioral health agencies, senior centers, and other settings to address stress-sensitive mental health issues among marginalized and traumatized persons. These yoga therapy programs are met with varying receptivity. For example, some school districts spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to support yoga programming while others ban yoga instruction due to various concerns, such as the promotion of Hinduism. Similarly, some burgeoning research on the efficacy of these yoga therapy interventions produces the outcomes seen in the field and is promising. Some studies (Wang, et
al., 2021; Wang & Tice-Brown, 2021) have found that marginalized and traumatized children and adolescents receiving yoga-based interventions indicate improved outcomes, such as in emotion regulation, stress management, and prosocial values. Also, other investigations (Bonura, & Tenenbaum, 2014; Ko, et al., 2023) find that older adults demonstrate improved self-efficacy and mental health including decreased and sustained depression levels after yoga therapy sessions. Yet, the positive outcomes some researchers have found are difficult to replicate, jeopardizing support for these interventions in a polarized political environment.

Dr. Derek Tice-Brown will offer a workshop detailing these issues by broadly defining yoga therapy as a modality to foster psychological wellness, describing the intervention benefits indicated by mental health service recipients and their providers, and reviewing the current state of knowledge of its efficacy and effectiveness. Dr. Tice-Brown will document the current controversies in practice and research, such as politics, religion & spirituality, equity, and AI. He then will facilitate a discussion with the audience of the contemporary considerations in advancing yoga therapy as an intervention for mental health practice and research.

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The Practice of Defenselessness in Trauma Work

The profession has now long recognized the importance of the parallel process between clinical supervision and the clinical relationship. Research has demonstrated that the quality of parallel alignment directly impacts positive treatment outcome= effective supervisory relationships result in positive treatment outcomes with clients. There is also a need to appreciate the implication of the parallel process occurring between how the clinician relates to themselves, their internal world and their work with their clients. A clinician who is unaware of their defensiveness in relation to their unwanted thoughts, emotions, sensations, trauma responses and of course their imposter, brings that into the work. The profession speaks to the effective use of self in the work, it is important to understand the quality of self we are bringing to the work, especially with trauma survivors.

“Therapy as Out Loud Meditation, is the field of relational awareness where all parts are welcomed of both client and clinician.”

Defenselessness, as a relational position that impacts trauma work is the clinician’s radical practice of self-compassion, learning how to befriend how and who one is. To enter the clinical work residing in the liberation of not having to be something one is not. For the clinician to learn how not to defend against internal or external expectations and to radically accept that who one is, is inherently and authentically good enough. Ahimsa, to do no violence, in the clinician’s relationship with themselves, their internal architecture, with their unwanted misinformed parts, trauma responses and of course with their own personal imposter syndrome. The clinician’s capacity for mindfulness, for open present moment awareness with a quality of affection, and practice of dropping the protest to what arises in awareness directly influences the work with the clients. To honor the clients experience, to be an effective collaborator in the client’s journey of post traumatic growth, is to be skilled in going to the dark and traumatized places within that the client has set themselves up against. This work with client requires the clinician to develop a practice of Defenselessness and Ahimsa within themselves. This parallel process then begins to model and mirror for the client a possibility of returning to themselves with that same capacity of reclaiming an integrated self, for compassion, loving kindness, courage, and clarity.

As a society, we live in a relationally deprived century – for when we opened the first Apple iPhone in 2007, we had no idea what was in that Pandora’s box. Our communities, our schools, our cities, and our neighbors all live in a context of terror management and “alien-other,” where the impact of COVID, and divisive political separations, has further isolated us all and created chronic states of stress, grief, uncertainty, and fear. Clinicians are members of the same humanity, impacted by the same adverse community experiences. Yet, these aspects of suffering are the impetus for the doorway to change that is Integration for a Dis-Integrated World. Our elders knew this integration aspect wisely and transmitted their wisdom with end sight on the role of collective healing, “Healing happens in relationship,” stated psychiatrist and trauma expert Judith Herman, MD. “Love and understanding have to arrive together,” offered Buddhist monk and peace activist, Thich Nhat Hanh. It is affirming how different healing traditions point to this same understanding – validating the fact of this statement. Humans need to feel connected, understood, and related to authentically, for healing and wellness to manifest. Incorporation of an authentic relationship through a trauma-informed approach between client and clinician is imperative, and the foundation of this relationship is the clinicians effective use of an integrated self through a practice of self-compassion and loving kindness.

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4:15 pm – 4:30 pm

Join us for a quick drum circle before you depart for the day!

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