Sunday, February 24, 2013

Current Activities

I’d like to update you on some of my activities and those of the Traumatic Stress Institute.

This past week I was honored to attend two activities that emerged from the Newtown tragedy. My boss Dr. Steve Girelli was one of the local experts chosen to be part of a panel at an event focusing on Gun Violence. The event was held at the campus of WestConn University in Danbury and the keynote speaker was Vice President Joe Biden. Many local politicians also participated including Senator Richard Blumenthal, Senator Chris Murphy and Representative Elizabeth Esty. Attending with Vice President Biden was U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. Newtown First Selectman E. Patricia Llodra was also present. The first panel focused on gun control, and some of the participants were Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra; Lynn and Chris McDonnell, parents of Newtown victim Grace McDonnell, a first-grader; and Dale Hourigan, a state police captain and Newtown first-responder, Capt. Dale Hourigan of the Connecticut State Police and Dom Basile, an advocate for gun owners and safe storage. The second panel focused on mental health and school safety. In addition to Dr. Girelli there was Kathryn Seifert an author and psychologist and University of Connecticut professor George Sugai. It was very interesting and moving.

The following day I attended a conference sponsored by Connecticut NASW and the CT Schools of Social Work entitled: Social Workers Respond to Newtown. This involved a panel of speakers including Kenneth J. Doka, PhD is a Professor at The College of New Rochelle and Senior Consultant at The Hospice Foundation of America.  He provided an overview of “Coping with Public Tragedy” including a discussion of grief, the tasks and styles of grief, and what happens after the tragedy. Kathi Legare, LCSW founder of the Family Affirmation Center for Treatment in Vernon spoke on “Tools and Interventions for Working with Traumatized Children”, Joshua Miller, PhD, LICSW a Professor and Associate Dean at Smith College School for Social Work speaking on “The Use of Groups to Foster Resiliency in the Wake of a Tragic Disaster” and my friend  S. Megan Berthold, PhD, LCSW an Assistant Professor at the University of Connecticut School of Social Work and has over 20 years of experience as a clinician with survivors of trauma, war, and torture in different parts of the world who discussed “Attending to Our Own Vicarious Trauma: How to take care of ourselves as we treat the trauma of those in the community”. I was delighted to hear Risking Connection acknowledged by several speakers.

While we are on the subject of NASW, this coming Friday I will be presenting a day-long training for the new Clinical Solutions series. My topic is “Using the New Brain Science to Create More Effective Treatment.” There may be space left, check it out at And I will also be presenting at the 28th Annual NASW/CT Statewide Conference April 19, 2013
Coco Key, Waterbury, CT. "Weaving Threads of Resilience and Advocacy: The Power of Social Work" Gary Bailey, MSW, ACSW, from Simmons College is scheduled to be the Keynote Speaker. I’ll be speaking with a co-worker, Rebecca Desautels, LCSW,  on Sustaining Trauma Informed Care through Supervision. That’s always a great conference, and you get to see a lot of old friends.
My co-worker Steve Brown took off today for a trip to the Yukon Territory in Canada. We are doing an exciting research project there, and Steve is also meeting with the leaders of various Yukon departments as they would like to expand the use of Risking Connection there.

I am heading out early tomorrow to Los Angeles California to do a two-day Restorative Approach training at Maryvale in Rosemead, California. This is my first time doing a two day RA which is based on my book, and I am very excited about it.
On Thursday, April 11, 2013 both Steve and I will present at the MASOC conference in Worchester, which is a premiere conference about treating adolescents with problem sexual behaviors. I’m doing a pre-conference half-day on the Restorative Approach Thursday and Steve is presenting on VT during the conference. Why not come- find out about it at

Then later in April I will be presenting at the Professional Day March 21- 23, 2013
of the True Colors’ 20th Anniversary Conference: Celebrating our Heroes of the Past, Present & Future. It is held at the University of Connecticut, Storrs. I’m very honored to be part of this event.
We have quite a few more agency trainings set up. For our Associate Trainers we have a wonderful series of in person consult groups and webinars this year. The first one is on March 5th on the subject of Brené Brown on Vulnerability and Shame: What Are Millions of Viewers So Excited About? I think this will lead to an important discussion.

In addition to all this, I am teaching a course at the UConn School of Social Work- a regular credit course. I really love doing it.
We are also continuing with our project of training people to train foster parents in Risking Connection. We held a training for our Associate Trainers who wanted to learn the new Foster Parent Curriculum. That was very successful, and there was a lot of enthusiasm about the material. Out next step will be to hold a training for people who are not yet RC trainers, but who would like to be specifically trained to teach foster parents. It will be required that participants have attended a Risking Connection basic training. This will be in New Britain probably in late May. Let us know if you are interested by emailing Marci at

This seems like a lot, doesn’t it? And that’s not everything. But it is fun! Please attend one of these events, and come up and introduce yourself to me. I’d love to meet you!

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