2011 Workshops Descriptions & Learning Objections


April 7 & 8, 2011

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


Concurrent Professional Workshops offered 1:00-3:30pm on April 8th


Lessons Learned from Multiple Disasters Since 9/11: Incorporation into Planning and Preparation

Col. (Retired) Elspeth Cameron Ritchie, M.D.

This workshop will present many lessons learned from numerous episodes of mass violence and disasters since 9/11, including the sniper attacks, the anthrax attacks, SARS, the tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, the shootings at Ft. Hood, the earthquake in Haiti, etc. While much has been learned from all of these episodes, there has not been a concerted effort to take these lessons and incorporate them into planning and preparation for future events. For example, the disruption of medications in New Orleans contributed to significant increases of disruptive behavior, but there are still not anti-psychotic medications in the national stockpile. On the positive side, non-governmental organizations and the military worked together well on the Comfort following the tsunami, and that has led to continued partnership on other missions. After almost any event the need arises for a Family Assistance Center, but there is little in the literature about how to set one up. This workshop will suggest ways to involve these lessons into disaster preparedness. Participants should come prepared with their own examples for discussion with the audience. Suggested participants would include not only participants from the Department of Defense, Department of Justice, Health and Human Services, the Veterans Administration, and the Red Cross, but also state and local government, who often are the ones to develop and implement disaster mental health plans. Ideally this workshop would be part of the process leading to future improvements in our disaster preparedness.

Learning Objectives:

1. Participants will be able to outline briefly the updates in interventions following mass violence

2. Participants will be able to review major lessons learned in behavioral health following episodes of mass violence, such as the tsunami, Katrina, etc

3. Participants will be able to understand how to incorporate these lessons into state and local plans

4. Participants will be able to identify remaining gaps in these plans


Beyond Competence: Culturally Responsive Trauma-Informed Care

Monica Indart, Psy.D.

This workshop will provide participants an opportunity to examine the powerfully transformative aspects of culture and community in recovery from traumatic experiences. The workshop will focus on how cultural and spiritual traditions can be integrated with more evidenced-informed practices to co-create interventions that have the potential to represent “the best of both worlds.” Central to these explorations are two concepts that serve as unifying principles for crisis responders working cross-culturally: 1) sense of coherence, which refers to the neurophysiological tendency and interpersonal need to make sense of events; and 2) inclusive cultural empathy, which differs somewhat from traditional, Western-based concepts of empathy. The prospective role of these integrated interventions in emergency preparedness will be discussed, utilizing case vignettes and examples from participants. The workshop will conclude with a practice exercise that offers participants an opportunity to develop elements of a culturally integrated and community-based early intervention plan.

Learning Objectives:

1. Participants will identify key elements of a culturally responsive approach to addressing traumatic experiences

2. Participants will examine how evidence-informed practices can be integrated with certain traditional healing rituals that may enhance community resilience

3. Through case vignettes and video examples, participants will examine how culture and community provide opportunities for transforming traumatic experiences from events of rupture to experiences of coherence

4. Participants will apply these principles through the planning the initial phase of a community-based early intervention program as a practice exercise



Collaborative Partnerships Between Mental Health and Spiritual Care Providers

Julie Taylor, M.Div. & Grant Brenner, M.D.

Practical experience and research have demonstrated that spiritual considerations are commonplace for disaster affected persons and communities. At times spiritual considerations are paramount, taking a primary place within best practices for disaster responders of all backgrounds, including mental health, human services, and spiritual care specialists. A working knowledge of spiritual issues is important for all responders to have, in order to provide the most competent and effective care for those we serve. In addition, a working knowledge of spiritual issues is important in order to possess the shared understanding required to foster effective collaboration among spiritual care, mental health, and additional responders. In this workshop, we will focus on developing a nuanced understanding of the spiritual care issues required for a good outcome, using best practices from multiple sources, including professional organizations with long-standing experience in disaster response, using real-world illustrations.

Learning Objectives:

1. Participants will gain an understanding of foundational spiritual considerations relevant to disaster response.

2. Participants will understand relevant aspects of spiritual triage and indications for referrals in working with persons affected by disasters.

3. Participants will gain knowledge of how to manage boundaries and roles when addressing the spiritual needs of disaster affected persons within a mental health context.

4. Participants will develop an understanding of the need for a multi-faith, multi-cultural, multi-disciplinary response to disasters, and will be able to employ strategies to implement in actual work.



Mental Health Responses During Mass Casualty Incidents: Family Assistance Center Operations and Related Sites

Mary Tramontin, Psy.D. & Diane Ryan, L.C.S.W.

This workshop is for those who intend to intervene following a mass casualty incident. In the aftermath of such events, what we have termed “holding environments” are established that have multi-purpose functions. They exist not only to provide direct services to victims and family members but also to offer a setting for different responding stakeholder agencies to accomplish their goals. Our primary focus will be on Family Assistance Centers opened in the wake of large-scale events. An effective Family Assistance Center (FAC) is a multi-agency effort that requires leadership, collaboration, commitment, flexibility, and organization. In order to prepare you for serving in such settings, we will discuss characteristics of mass casualty incidents, review emotional and psychological responses of clients and workers, and describe the structure of FAC component functional areas and operational features. Based on reviews of best practices in FAC operations, we will consider how you can contribute to a successful FAC operation by leveraging both practical and clinical skills.

Learning objectives:

1. Participants will be able to describe the functional areas and operational features of a FAC

2. Participants will be able to list six characteristics of mass casualty incidents

3. Participants will be able to outline the needs and responses of victims, family members and staff

4. Participants will be able to formulate effective strategies for successful interventions



Understanding and Responding to Trauma-Related Substance Abuse

Richard Isralowitz, Ph.D.

Considerable attention has been given to disasters and substance abuse or dependence. This workshop will review key terms (e.g., abuse and dependence); review substances of concern; examine the rates of substance use following disasters; and review what research has shown about substance use following disasters. Participants will be asked to engage in a broad discussion of key questions facing researchers and treatment providers working with substance abuse populations affected by a disaster. Questions open for discussion may include: 1) what groups are at greatest risk in disaster situations, and how best can they be identified and reached when disasters strike; 2) what role does substance use and abuse play in influencing other morbidities; and 3) what gaps and needs should be addressed to synthesize research findings and lessons learned from disasters and improve our public health preparedness and effectiveness in response to those that follow?

Learning objectives:

1. Participants will improve their understanding of the relation between disasters and substance abuse or dependence

2. Participants will be able to describe the major concerns and challenges to be addressed in disaster situations and its impact on vulnerable populations and responders

3. Participants will be able to describe and discuss the merits of SBIRT (Screening, Brief Intervention, Referral and Treatment) as a trauma related substance use intervention strategy

4. Participants will be able to describe education and training efforts needed for mental health and social work providers working with substance abuse and dependence cases linked to disaster situations



Community Capacity Building Through Cross-Cultural Communication

Ali Gheith, M.S.

This workshop will explore lessons learned and best practices in cross-cultural communication and community capacity building. Community capacity-building is the process through which local communities develop the necessary skills and expertise to manage their environment and natural resources in a sustainable manner within their daily activities. In this workshop various elements of community capacity building will be analyzed with specific reference to their potential to work with disaster survivors. The workshop explores the nature of culture and disaster, and discusses important considerations when communicating with diverse people of other racial and ethnical cultures. Major elements of community capacity building through cross-cultural communication, such as building knowledge, leadership, and alliances, and accessing and utilizing quality information, will be discussed. The session will provide suggestions to enhance essential cross-cultural communication skills for first responders and crisis counselors, and it will discuss the very nature of emergency services demands from the way we do business with regards to risk communication and community development and sustainability. Also, it will describe essential ingredients in developing effective methods in community engagement to mitigate and/or adapt to disruptive consequences.

Learning Objectives:

1. Participants will learn to enhance community capacity building through cross cultural communication knowledge

2. Participants will learn to help ensure that the rights and perspectives of all community members are fully valued

3. Participants will learn to integrate cross-cultural communication practices into disaster mental health services

4. Participants will learn to identify strategies for tapping into community and disaster relief resources through community mapping

5. Participants will learn to shape risk perceptions for action



Healing Together: Working with Couples in the Aftermath of Trauma

Dianne Kane, D.S.W.

Trauma can affect an intimate relationship in many ways. The fear, distrust and alienation that trauma survivors often feel has an obvious effect on any close relationship, but especially the relationship to one’s partner or spouse. This workshop will invite participants to consider how in the aftermath of terrorism or other mass casualty events a couple’s relationship is both the locus of pain and the source of support and recovery. We will examine the impact of trauma in terms of trauma symptoms, inevitable loss, anger, disruption of intimacy, and the traumatic imprint of memories and dreams. Strategies such as Couple Psychological First Aid, Anger management, Steps for Reclaiming Intimacy, Collaborative Dream Work, and Couple Resilience as a means to foster reconnection and recovery will be delineated.

Learning Objectives:

1. Participants will be able to describe the impact of trauma on a couple in terms of symptoms, feelings, behaviors and patterns

2. Participants will be able to teach couples how to apply principles of Psychological First Aid within their relationship

3. Participants will be able to delineate at least three of the strategies for use with and by couples in the aftermath of traumatic events

4. Participants will be able to discuss how to intervene with couples to normalize, make meaning of trauma’s impact and offer strategies for reconnection and recovery



Supporting Children, Teens, and Families Post-Disaster

Athena Drewes, Psy.D.

This workshop will assist paraprofessionals and support staff in working with parents and caregivers following a human-caused disaster. In particular, it will focus on how children and teens respond to grief and how to help caregivers respond to their questions about death and the aftermath of a disaster. The workshop will be a combination of didactic and experiential participation.

Learning Objectives:

1. Participants will be able to identify at least five behavioral, emotional and cognitive reactions that children may experience following a man-made disaster or death of a loved one

2. Participants will be able to describe how to talk with and support caregivers in helping their children in the aftermath of a disaster or death of a loved one

3. Participants will be able to understand the developmental needs and responses of children and teens with regard to grief