The Institute for Disaster Mental Health at SUNY New Paltz conference to focus on stressors and rewards of trauma work
NEW PALTZ - The ninth annual Institute for Disaster Mental Health (IDMH) at SUNY New Paltz conference will focus on occupational hazards and benefits for those involved in responding to disasters and treating other sources of trauma.
“Building Capacity: Managing and Mitigating Responder Stress” will be held on Friday, April 20, on the SUNY New Paltz campus. This day-long event will include a number of expert presenters who will discuss how participants can not only reduce the emotional and professional costs of assisting others on both individual and organizational levels, but can actively increase the rewards they receive from this challenging work.
“Helping people in distress, whether as a health or mental health professional, a first responder, or a spiritual care provider, can be intensely gratifying,” said James Halpern, Director of the IDMH. “We have the privilege of directly assisting survivors of disasters or other difficult events at a time when many people wish they knew how to help. But that can also take a toll in the form of compassion fatigue or vicarious traumatization, so we need to know how to practice healthy coping strategies. As the conference tagline says, ‘The care that responders provide to others can only be as good as the care they provide themselves.’”
To encourage that care, IDMH is bringing in two top experts in the field as keynote presenters. Charles R. Figley, Ph.D. is the Paul Henry Kurzweg, MD Distinguished Chair in Disaster Mental Health and a Graduate School of Social Work Professor at Tulane University, and director of the award-winning Traumatology Institute. Figley is also a psychologist, family therapist, psychoneuroimmunologist, and social work educator and researcher, and was a pioneer in recognizing and treating compassion fatigue and other occupational stressors among helping professionals. He will speak on “Mitigating Occupational Hazards of Disaster Response.”
Richard Glenn Tedeschi, Ph.D. is a Professor of Psychology at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and a licensed psychologist specializing in bereavement and trauma. With his colleague Lawrence Calhoun, he has published numerous books on posttraumatic growth; an area of research that they have developed that examines personal transformations in the aftermath of traumatic life events. Tedeschi will discuss this concept of posttraumatic growth, specifically “Psychological Reconstruction in the Aftermath of Disaster.”
In the afternoon Rob Yin, L.I.S.W., and Valerie Cole, Ph.D., of the American Red Cross will present that organization’s “New Strategies for Reducing Responder Risk: From Pre-Deployment Screening to Post-Deployment Support.” Finally, afternoon workshops will allow participants to work in small groups with these and other experts to become trained in topics including building leadership capacity, facilitating posttraumatic growth, culturally responsive self-care, and mindfulness-based stress reduction.
“We’re thrilled to have a line-up of such world-class experts to share their groundbreaking work,” said Halpern. “This promises to be a full day of essential information that helpers and responders can, and should, apply to themselves in order to maintain their ability to serve others.”
Full program details and registration information for this event, which is being sponsored by the New York State Office of Emergency Management, the Preparedness and Emergency Response Learning Center at the University of Albany Center for Public Health Preparedness, and Campus Auxiliary Services, are available at www.newpaltz.edu/idmh.
Registration for the conference, including lunch, is $95.
Located in the heart of a dynamic college town, 90 minutes from metropolitan New York City, the State University of New York at New Paltz is a highly selective college of about 8,000 undergraduate and graduate students.
One of the most well-regarded public colleges in the nation, New Paltz delivers an extraordinary number of majors in Business, Liberal Arts, Sciences, Engineering, Fine and Performing Arts and Education.
New Paltz embraces its culture as a community where talented and independent minded people from around the world create close personal links with real scholars and artists who love to teach.