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Institute for Disaster Mental Health

Past Conferences

The following are descriptions of past IDMH annual conferences and trainings.


2014 "Why Don't People Listen?" -The Whole Community and Communicating in a Crisis

The 11th annual Institute for Disaster Mental Health conference on April 25, 2014, focused on how disaster response professionals can best communicate with community members to help them avoid or minimize their exposure to disaster, and to jumpstart their recovery when events do occur. Presentations and workshops addressed specific hazards and populations, with experts familiar with the challenges of message dissemination during complex and rapidly changing disasters.


2013 - Radiological Readiness: Preparing for Dirty Bombs, Nuclear Disasters, and Other Events

The tenth annual IDMH training provided a timely and important opportunity for new information and recommendations to be presented and discussed, and incorporated into planning procedures for multiple organizations that would need to collaborate in any response. The training consisted of presenters from the New York State Office of Emergency Management, New York State Department of Mental Health, and New York State Department of Health, who presented perspectives, recommendations, and updates from their respective fields. By reviewing the diverse challenges and consequences of different types of radiological disasters, the whole community will become better prepared for future nuclear accidents or terrorists attacks involving radiation exposure and/or contamination.

2012 - Building Capacity: Managing and Mitigating Responder Stress

DVD available for $35 - Download Order Form

The ninth annual IDMH training focused on building capacity and resilience through effective stress management and self-care strategies. Disaster response, emergency management, and trauma work are intrinsically and uniquely stressful, and it is essential that the inherent occupational hazards be mitigated through proactive stress management approaches. The well-being of responders is closely tied to self-care and is paramount to the success of disaster preparedness, response, and recovery efforts. The care that responders provide to others can only be as good as the care they provide themselves. The training featured presenters who are experts on the interrelated work of mitigating the stress and maximizing the rewards of trauma work, on both individual and organizational levels. Each presenter discussed foundational concepts, current research and recommended practices, and lessons learned from their experiences in the field. Please visit the conference webpage for further details on the program and presenters.


2011 - Lessons from Adversity: Strengthening Preparedness with Reflections from 9/11

DVD Set Available for $35: Download Order Form

This spring, mental health professionals, emergency managers, and others nationwide are anticipating the ten-year anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. To help prepare for both 9/11 commemorative events and future disasters, a careful review of lessons learned over the past decade was the focus of the 8th annual IDMH conference and training.  Please visit the conference website for further details and to access handouts of Powerpoint presentations from the training.


2010 - Cognitive Processing Therapy: Two-day Training for Treating PTSD

DVD Training Package Available for $120: Download Order Form

 One of the most effective evidence-based treatments for PTSD is Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT), a 12-session cognitive behavioral treatment. CPT is predominantly a cognitive therapy that can be implemented with or without a smaller exposure component than imaginal exposure therapy and is therefore more acceptable to many clients and practitioners seeking alternatives to purely exposure-focused treatments. It also directly targets associated problems such as depression, guilt, and anger. Originally developed for rape and sexual assault, CPT has been successfully applied to veterans, refugees, and survivors of other traumas. This two-day professional training in Cognitive Processing Therapy was sponsored by the New York State Office of Mental Health and was led by the developer of CPT, Patricia A. Resick, Ph.D., Director of the Women’s Health Sciences Division of the National Center for PTSD at the VA Boston Healthcare System. A training package including DVD-ROM recordings of the entire event, training manual, and other materials is available for purchase; see the Training page for details.


2009 - In the Wake of Disaster: Effective Mental Health Interventions
This conference  promoted disaster preparedness and planning to support those health and mental health providers, emergency management personnel, spiritual care providers, first responders and community responders who will be providing assistance to survivors and their families during the early aftermath of disasters. A growing body of evidence indicates that delivering appropriate mental health interventions such as psychological first aid and psychoeducation in the immediate aftermath of disasters can help to prevent serious sequelae in those impacted. Additionally, effective screening methods can help responders direct limited longer-term mental health resources to those who need them most.


2008 - Healing the Scars of War
Most soldiers returning to civilian life will experience only brief periods of difficulty.  Others, however, will demonstrate high rates of emotional distress both immediately and even long after their wartime experiences.  Although many returning veterans will be treated in VA hospitals, others seek treatment from mental health practitioners outside of the VA system, sometimes months or years after homecoming.  It is clear that all mental health professionals need to provide up- to- date therapeutic interventions to work productively with these veterans. This Conference provided mental health helpers with the latest evidence-informed best practices for assisting returning service personnel experiencing stress reactions by highlighting a number of long-term treatments.


2007: Our Community Prepares
The 2007 conference highlighted a number of approaches to improve the quality and availability of services for mass trauma survivors in the seven-county Hudson Valley region by focusing on disaster preparedness. Day 1 featured a film screening of “When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts.” On Day 2, keynote speaker Darlene Sparks Washington, Ph.D., of the American Red Cross addressed “Creating a Culture of Preparedness.” Panel discussion and professional workshop topics included: Planning Disaster Response in the Mid-Hudson Valley, Pandemic Flu, Emergency Management, and Counseling First Responders.


2006: Treatment Innovations for Disaster/Trauma Survivors
As we approached the fifth anniversary of the attacks of September 11, the 2006 conference focused on long-term treatment for trauma/disaster survivors experiencing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and complicated or traumatic grief reactions. Keynote speakers were Monica McGoldrick, LCSW, on “Traumatic Loss in Context” and Joann Difede, Ph.D., on “Innovative Treatments for Trauma Survivors.” Professional workshops topics included: Fostering Resilience in Children; Psychological First Aid; and Compassion Satisfaction/Compassion Fatigue.


2005: Helping in a Time of Crisis
Keynote speaker John R. Tassey, Ph.D., discussed “The Oklahoma City Bombing: Reflections Ten Years Later.” Panel discussion and professional workshops topics included: Mental Health Response to Disaster, Early Interventions and Debriefing Debate, Psychological First Aid, Long Term Treatment of Traumatic Stress Reactions, and Vicarious Traumatization and Self-Care.


2003: Lessons from Disaster
This initial conference introduced the academic and professional communities to the latest issues, techniques, and concerns in disaster mental health. The keynote speaker was Gerard Jacobs, Ph.D., on “Current Developments in Disaster Mental Health.” Afternoon panel topics included Interventions, Spiritual Care, Cultural Competency, Treating Uniformed Services Personnel, and Working with Schools.