VIP Kickoff Event Wednesday, June 21, 2023

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 22, 2023

8:00 am – 9:00 am

9:00 am – 9:30 am

Welcome/Opening Announcements/Sponsor Acknowledgment

9:30 am – 11:00 am
Morning Keynote (1.5 CEU)

Using Integrated Mental Health Care To Heal And Save Lives

Eric Kussin was in the midst of an ascending career in professional sports when a debilitating mental health crisis stopped his life in its tracks. Due to unresolved personal life traumas that he failed to appropriately address at a younger age and life experiences he was unaware were affecting his mental health –Eric experienced a major crash that left him almost permanently in bed, and with severe cognitive impairment, for over two and a half years.

Eric underwent many failed treatments– including trying over 50 combinations of psychotropic drugs, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) as well as Electro-Convulsive Therapy (ECT or “Shock Therapy”). Eventually, he told that he has a treatment-resistant mental illness. It wasn’t long after hearing this that he was introduced to an integrative psychotherapist as well as a psychiatrist who used both traditional and holistic approaches to treat his mind, body and central nervous system and that is when he began his journey to wellness and getting his life back.

On his path to mental wellbeing, Eric was determined to share his story in effort to help others, and at the end of 2017 he launched a nonprofit, #SameHere Global Mental Health Movement. The organization is comprised of athletes, celebrities, expert practitioners, advocates, and everyday heroes who’ve come together to normalize society’s perception of mental health and make it part of our everyday conversation.

In this discussion, Eric will share why using an integrated whole body approach is critical to effectively improve overall mental wellness and resilience no matter where someone is on the mental health continuum.

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11:00 am – 11:30 am

11:30 am – 1:00 pm
Concurrent Morning Workshops (1.5 CEU)

Providing a Holistic Approach with Psychopharmacology

This is a time where many patients are turning to the use of medications to seek relief from mental health disorders and psychological stress. With the growing use of polypharmacy to treat the varied symptoms, the healing of the mind and maintenance of the self is often lost to drug interactions and overuse of medications.

In this session, Dr. Pogran will share an introduction to the practice of psychiatric integrative medicine with a focus on healing and health promotion. She will enhance the role of evidence-based therapeutic approaches using both conventional and complementary medicines.

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The Most Empowering, Transformative, and Self-Compassionate Approach to Moving More and Feeling Better

You know that exercise can support your patients’ and clients’ physical and mental health, and yet how often do you find that there seems to be obstacles preventing your patients and clients from bringing more exercise and movement into their lives? Many people have complicated relationships with exercise and their bodies. For some, gyms and fitness studios can feel intimidating or unwelcoming. Others do know the gym can be a place to feel better, but no one is teaching them how to reap all the mental health benefits from their movement practice. And if your clients and patients are living with trauma, contending with systemic discrimination, or coping with stress, they likely have another obstacle to contend with—they may be disconnected from their body and not even know it. This disconnect can lead to frequent feelings of overwhelm, illness, chronic pain, and injuries—even if our patients and clients are trying their best to tend to their well-being.

Using both written and simple movement exercises, teachings about trauma informed movement practices, and her gift of storytelling, Laura will show you how to help your patients or clients reframe how they think about and approach movement and wellness, and she will do it with a sense of humor and compassion.

By the end of the program attendees will be empowered to show their patients and clients how to incorporate mindful movement into their lives, not as another to-do, but as a grounding and empowering practice that fits into their daily routines as they are right now.

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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 client to tap into the psyche and the body. Through the use of symbolic figures, a person is able to create stories in the sand 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. Sand Play Therapy also allows children’s thoughts and feelings to be given a voice through symbolic play, enabling them to resolve their issues in a language they understand.

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Working with clients who have a trauma background can require an approach that touches upon healing through many layers of the body. Most clinicians have had a client sitting in front of them and been a witness to how trauma isolates, traps, and even paralyzes a client from being able to communicate in a way that is verbally effective. Neuroscience would say that the experience and memory is implicitly lodged in the body, and that neither the area of the brain that can access the memory, nor speak about the experience, is accessible through conscious awareness and words. Yet, the body is dynamic; it changes. In just 60 seconds, the body makes 3.8 million cells, and these cells give new life to the outer body of the skin, as well as the inner workings of the gut, lungs, heart, and particularly the blood, with the brain alone mapping 100,000 miles of blood vessels. Through repatterning and neural processing of the autonomic nervous system, and self-directed regulation of the body through movement, breathing, mantra, mudra, and meditation (collectively referred to as yoga-based practices), it is possible for a client to begin to access deeper internal awareness, embolden their own understanding of what their body needs, and fuel the beginning of curiosity, change, and neuroplastic growth. The opportunity for change and growth through yoga-based practices, alongside aspects of curiosity and choice, invite the client to connect more deeply to both quality of life and meaning of life, and herein they discover their own vastness within post-traumatic growth.

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1:00 pm – 2:00 pm

2:00 pm – 3:30 pm
Afternoon Keynote (1.5 CEU)

Integrating the Caring Collaboratively

Join us for lunch to explore how integrated mental health care can work to create a care plan that is truly integrated and innovative in approaching whole person, whole body and mind wellness. A multi-disciplinary panel of approaches involving psychiatry, psychotherapy, eco therapy, trauma informed yoga, sand play, art therapy, and breath work will explore a case presentation together in a grand rounds format. The panel will be demonstrating a practice model that moves integrated mental health care, from the periphery of “complementary and alternative” to the front-line treatment of choice. An outpatient “plus” level of care, where an integrated mental health team works to provide a client multiple sessions per week working collaboratively with the client and each other.

The grand rounds format will be utilized, where a complex client presentation, including intersectionality as a key element, will be examined first though the individual lens of each discipline. Following will be an active discussion of how the team would work to synthesize a comprehensive and cohesive wellness plan building and complimenting on the work of each discipline.

Together is always more, there are so many parts to the human experience, it is easy to become overwhelmed when working alone in support of a client so desperate for recovery. The panel will demonstrate the profound benefits of working collaboratively, where traditional western medicine meets holistic and expressive approaches under the same sky and in the same healing universe. The human condition is multiple, no symptom or suffering happens without many conditions also being present- our approaches need to mirror this truth effectively.

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3:30 pm – 4:00 pm

4:00 pm – 5:30 pm
Concurrent Afternoon Workshops (1.5 CEU)

Foundational Mind-Body Practices for the 21st Century Client

The technological, economic and political-social context of the 21st century has exacerbated stress related disease and intensified the impact of suffering. We will explore the neuroscience of stress and trauma and its implications for the need of mind/body approaches, while also identifying the foundational approaches to a mindfulness toolbox with experiential practice opportunities. Customizing mind/body practice will be reviewing including how to assess the readiness of the client and how to engage the client in psycho-educational conversation around these approaches and why. The ethics, informed consent and liability around leading certain mind/body practices will also be considered. Specific focus on the alignment of mind/body approaches to trauma sensitive treatment will be highlighted.

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Inviting Nature as a Cofacilitator

In this workshop participants will receive an introduction to Ecotherapy, the practice of working with clients while in nature. It has been well documented that nature has a positive and immediate effect on the nervous system. Facilitating a reconnection to nature can improve and support mental health and wellbeing. So how can Counselors use this abundant resource (nature) to generate deeper connection, growth and healing for their clients?

Together, in this workshop we will explore using nature as nurture through the lens of reciprocity in the nature-human connection. Ethical considerations will be discussed and an experiential nature walk will give us the opportunity to play with gentle and practical nature based interventions. Let’s get wild!

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The Healing Power of Horses

Who is Operation HOPE? Operation HOPE provides an option for people seeking a new or different response to depression, anxiety, and trauma. We provide Equine Assisted Psychotherapy for a variety of clients which includes children, teens, and adults with any mental health issues. All of our services benefit rescue animals; we aim to spread awareness about rescue animals and the therapeutic benefits that they provide.

By engaging with the therapeutic team of a mental health professional, a horse professional and one or more horses, we can impact and improve both the physiology–self-regulation–and the psychology–the patterns of thinking–of our clients, creating lasting change well beyond the therapeutic benefits of simply being with animals.

What you will be learning: Learn what equine assisted psychotherapy sessions look like, how it works, and the benefits/impact of this unique intervention. At this training, you will learn about equine behavior, how they work well with our clients, interventions used, how to refer clients, and what further training is needed to do this type of work if interested in pursuing animal assisted psychotherapy.

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For centuries, numerous cultures have used sound for many different purposes. These uses include in prayer, in celebration, in times of mourning, for entertainment and in many other aspects of day-to-day life. Recently, scientists have started to research the effects of sound on physical and mental health, and studies are starting to show positive benefits to using Sound in treatment for people with anxiety, suicidal ideation, substance dependence and more. Sound Bath and Sound Therapy are growing in popularity in the mental health field.

Sound Bathing is a deeply relaxing, meditative experience which can take participants on a journey of deep relaxation, healing and self discovery. Vibrations and sounds produced by singing bowls, tuning forks and other instruments can “tune” the body, mind and spirit back into alignment by activating the parasympathetic nervous system. Research has shown stress to be toxic to the human body, producing negative effects on our physical and mental health. Sound Bath can help the body achieve a state of relaxation which will allow it to heal.

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How multiple, socially constructed marginalizations impact mental and behavioral health

This workshop will define and discuss intersectionality as well as privilege, as the definitions and how they play out are intertwined. We will also discuss how these two aspects of our society and culture impact the mental health of those who have been historically and currently marginalized.

We will address race, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic “class,” people with disabilities, immigration status, and people who are neurodivergent in the context of mental and behavioral health.

There will be discussion not only of how the effects of intersectionality can lead to mental illness, but also the lack of accessibility to treatment as well as reluctance to seek treatment and the reasons why this all occurs.

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