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.
The Brain-Skin Connection
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.
You are (Mentally) What You Eat
In the workshop titled “You are (Mentally) What You Eat,” 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.
Embodiment through Equine Assisted Therapy
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.
Introduction to Sand Play Therapy
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.
Understanding Transgender Identity
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.
Concurrent Afternoon Workshops (1.5 CEU)
Embracing the Paradox of Grief
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.
Understanding Aging LGBTQI+ Populations from an Intersectionality Perspective
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.
Operation HOPE: Equine Assisted Psychotherapy
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.
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.
Integrating the Body
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.
The Art & Science of Yoga Therapy with Persons Across the Lifespan
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.
Therapy as Out-Loud Meditation
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 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.