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VOICES Resiliency Symposium – Piscataway, NJ

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Click here to view a photo gallery of the Symposium.

On Wednesday, April 6, 2016, VOICES hosted our New Jersey Symposium, "Promoting Resiliency in Communities Impacted by Trauma."  The event featured presentations by accomplished subject matter experts and clinicians working in the field of trauma, grief and disaster mental health.

VOICES thanks the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Rutgers School of Social Work and the United Way of Central Jersey for supporting this educational initiative.

The day-long event included the following speakers and presentations:

Adrienne Fessler Belli, Ph.D., LCSW, Director of the Disaster and Terrorism Branch of the New Jersey Division of Mental Health Services, provided opening remarks for the day, discussing how behavioral health for both victims and responders is a necessary component of disaster preparedness planning.  "It is important to look at lessons learned after response to an event," noted Dr. Fessler Belli.

VOICES Founding Director Mary Fetchet, LCSW, along with VOICES staff Lori A. Harris, MSW, LSW and Stephanie Landau presented on the long-term needs of victims' families, responders and survivors.  Their presentation discussed VOICES' long term recovery and support model, emphasizing the importance of providing continuity of care and maintaining connectedness for those impacted by traumatic events.  The presentation also highlighted the importance of public-private partnerships which facilitates the important work of VOICES outreach efforts to responders and survivors and helps qualified individuals apply to the World Trade Center Health Program. The next-generation of VOICES' 9/11 Living Memorial website that documents the 2,977 lives lost on 9/11 through an extensive collection of over 75,000 photographs was also introduced.

Next, we heard from Monica Indart, Psy.D., Assistant Professor at Rutgers University Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology.  Dr. Indart, who has extensive experience working with humanitarian aid workers and victims of torture, discussed secondary traumatic stress among service providers. After defining STS and discussing its impact on the individual, she offered preventative and self-care strategies for those working with traumatized individuals.

Kean University's Chair of Counselor Education Barry Mascari, Ed.D., LPC, LCADC, DRCC and Kean lecturer and trauma counselor Jane Webber, Ph.D., LPC, DRCC discussed how the brain responds to stressful events and trauma.  In their presentation, "Learning to Apply the Brakes Before Accelerating:  Emotion Regulation to Reduce the Effects of Trauma," they outlined somatic and emotion regulation tools designed to ground those impacted by traumatic events and facilitate the journey of recovery.

During their panel discussion, Bonnie Gordic, Psy.D., Mental Health Director for the Rutgers World Trade Center Health Program Clinical Center of Excellence, and  Chauntel Wright, MPH, C.H.E.S., Outreach Coordinator for the WTCHP at the Rutgers center, outlined the conditions covered by the Program and discussed mental health trends and challenges that responders are dealing with 14 years after 9/11. Priyanka Upadhyaya, Psy.D, Clinical Psychologist at the World Trade Center Health Center at Bellevue, presented on mental health trends among the survivor population.

Also, presenting at the Symposium on behalf of the New Jersey Disaster and Terrorism Branch, were Megan Sullivan, LPC, LCADC and Retired NJ State Police Captain Paul Miller.  Their interactive presentation focused on the importance of culture-informed interventions when working with first responders exposed to trauma and outlined the ongoing challenges faced by this population.

Connie Palmer, LCSW, Clinical and Training Director for Imagine, a Center for Coping with Loss, spoke about children's grief across the life cycle, and ways to foster resiliency among grieving children. 

Joining Ms. Palmer was Dylan Glasser, who lost his father Thomas on 9/11 and is also a Youth Facilitator at Imagine.  Dylan shared his personal challenges and his growth experiences, following his father's death, which includes facilitating support groups for other grieving children.

Ken Verni, Psy.D., Director of the New Jersey Center for Mindful Awareness, concluded the day with an Introduction to Mindfulness Practice. His interactive presentation demonstrated how Mindfulness Practice can facilitate our ability to respond instead of react to the personal, interpersonal and professional stressors that arise.  It can also play a role in cultivating resilience and limiting the impact of trauma and vicarious trauma in providers of behavioral health services.

"Events like the Symposium provide us with the chance to come together as a community and provide information to  victims' families, responders and survivors, and share lessons learned with those who are providing services," noted Ms. Fetchet. "We are grateful for the work of our presenters' and for their dedication to helping families and communities by promoting hope and healing in the lives of those they work with."

The Symposium is an initiative of VOICES Center of Excellence for Community Resilience, as part of the organization's commitment to helping families and communities heal after tragedies. VOICES Center of Excellence is a collaborative initiative, working with public/private partnerships to advance research, discourse and dialogue on issues that impact the long-term recovery of victims' families, responders, and survivors.

Click here to view a photo gallery of the Symposium.

 

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