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Keynote: Suicide Prevention in a New Light

Matrix Treatment Planning and the Quest for Happiness
Dr. Shawn Shea

Pulling from his best-selling book of philosophy Happiness Is and years of helping individuals coping with severe illnesses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, Dr. Shea takes the audience on a provocative journey into the importance of philosophical inquiry and its ramifications in in-stalling stalled treatment planning and other vital processes in preventing suicide such as building the therapeutic alliance, improving medication adherence, and creating hope.

Two questions are used to launch this philosophical exploration: 1) What is the nature of happiness? and 2) What is the nature of human nature itself?  The answers, derived from Dr. Shea’s twenty-five years of clinical practice, fifty years of navigating life’s ups and downs and from an array of thinkers and pop icons – from the mystic Julian of Norwich to the writer Herman Hesse – are surprising. They provoke creative ways of conceptualizing the goals of mental health intervention and the pathways taken to achieve these goals – matrix treatment planning – as we attempt to prevent suicide, all of which are brought to life with compelling clinical examples.

Dr. Shea provides a remarkably fresh definition of happiness, which has numerous ramifications for problem solving, transforming difficult times, and finding hope, while providing  a surprisingly refreshing antidote to clinician “burn-out” as both client and clinician undertake their respective quests for happiness. He deftly, and with a wicked sense of humor, transforms the basic beliefs of the “Bio-psycho-social-spiritual” model into a lively and layperson-friendly fabric called “the human matrix,” which can be used by both the clinician and the client as a gateway to collaborative treatment planning as well as a dynamic map for self-exploration and revitalization.

Keynote:Trauma-Informed Practices: School, Home, Treatment, and Community
David Melnick, LICSW

David will focus on using the lens of the “Seven Domains of Impact” examine the ways in which youth are impacted by trauma, and the relational, strategic, self, and collaborative practices to address areas of need. Traumatic events happen to all people at all ages and across all socio-economic strata in our society. These events can cause terror, intense fear, horror, helplessness and physical stress reactions. Some traumatic events are profound experiences that can change the way children, adolescents and adults see themselves and the world.

Trauma is not only a mental health issue, but it also is part of every health sector, including primary/physical, mental and spiritual health. Given the enormous influence that trauma has on treatment outcomes, it is important that every human services and health care provider has a basic understanding of trauma. Although trauma is often the root cause behind many of the public health and social issues that challenge our society, service providers all too often fail to make the link between the trauma and the challenges and problems their clients, students, patients and residents, and even co-workers, present.

David Melnick, LICSW is the Director of Outpatient Services at Northeastern Family Institute (NFI), Vermont. For the past 30 years, David has worked with children, adolescents and families in a variety of settings including:  outpatient, residential treatment, and schools. In addition to providing direct clinical work, David consults with and trains professionals and parents throughout Vermont.  His areas of expertise include developmental trauma, family therapy, adolescence, and attachment. Dave is trained in EMDR, DDP (Dr. Dan Hughe’s attachment model), and a variety of family systems models. The Child Trauma Academy acknowledges that Dave has completed NMT Training Certification through the Phase II level.  David is a graduate of UC Berkeley, and is an adjunct instructor at the University of Vermont.


Nutrition and Recovery: Marilyn Ricci, NAMI National

MarilynRicciA discussion of the nutritional challenges of living with a mental illness, including the impact of many medicines on one’s health and the challenges of the typical U.S. diet.

Speaker Bio: Ricci is a registered Dietitian Nutritionist who became interested in nutrition and mental health when her son became ill with schizophrenia in the late ’90s. An active NAMI member. She has been CT State president, her affiliate president, National president.




Working with Voices: Gloria Van Den Berg, Alyssum

GloriaVanDenBergThis workshop will present some base line and key concepts on hearing voices from both personal experience and from working with individuals who experience hearing voices. The main focus of the presentation will be on participant questions with open discussion on the issues of interest.

Speaker Bio: Gloria van den Berg is the executive director of Alyssum Inc. Alyssum is a short term integrated and peer run residential crisis respite located in Rochester VT. Gloria initially experienced hearing voices from the perspective of trauma and the resulting voices and multiple personalities which developed, as well as from a subsequent period of spiritual emergency (or psychosis). She views the two experiences as very different in terms of healing and re-empowerment, however there are common grounds for approaches when supporting individuals to heal and manage their thoughts.

Developmental Trauma: David Melnick LICSW, NFI (continuation of keynote)

This workshop will focus on the global impact that chronic traumatic stress has on the developing child, and, if untreated, into adulthood.  Research and clinical practice has helped clarify the expansive effects of chronic early trauma, often referred to as the “Seven Domains of Impairment” (The National Child Traumatic Stress Network).   We will study these seven domains with an eye towards their application for caregivers and professionals, noting the specific and often innovative strategies necessary to help children, adults and families recover.  Through a mixture of didactic teaching, clinical vignettes, videotape and audience activities, participants will increase both their theoretical understanding of complex trauma and their confidence in working with a broad variety of youth impacted by traumatic events.

Speaker Bio: Dave Melnick, LICSW is the Director of Outpatient Services at NFI, Vermont.  For the past 30 years, Dave has worked with children, adolescents and families in a variety of settings including:  outpatient, residential treatment, and schools.  In addition to providing direct clinical work, Dave consults with and trains professionals and parents throughout Vermont, as well as in New York and British Columbia.  His areas of expertise include developmental trauma, family therapy, adolescence, and attachment.  Dave is trained in EMDR, DDP (Dr. Hughe’s attachment model), and a variety of family systems models.  The ChildTrauma Academy acknowledges that Dave has completed NMT Training Certification through the Phase II level.  Dave is a graduate of UC Berkeley, and has been an adjunct instructor at the University of Vermont.

War Trauma and Animal Assisted Recovery: Commander Scott Hannon

Commander Scott Hannon will discuss animal assisted recovery though his experience of bipolar disorder, post traumatic stress, moral injury, and addiction.  He has worked with Military Working Dogs, herd and guard dogs, emotional support animals, equine assisted therapy, and wildlife rehabilitation to include a unique personal bond with a golden eagle and other predators.

Speaker Bio: Scott Hannon is a retired U.S. Navy SEAL Commander who served on multiple SEAL Teams and Special Mission Units spanning over twenty years and multiple continents and conflicts, he is recognized for combat valor.  Growing up in a foreign service family, he was born overseas and lived around the world.  He studied at the University of Colorado and Tuck school of business at Dartmouth College and now resides on mountain property near Helena Montana.

Substance Use and Mental Health Co-Occurring States with Dr. John Brooklyn

BrooklynJDr. Brooklyn will discuss the interface of substance use disorder and various psychological states to understand some reasons why people will use drugs and what drugs they might use.

Speaker Bio: Dr. John Brooklyn is Board Certified in Family Medicine and Addiction Medicine. He is Associate Clinical Professor of Family Med and Psychiatry at the University of Vermont College of Medicine and is Medical Director of UVM Substance Abuse Treatment Center with major research interests in heroin and cocaine use and directed multiple studies of buprenorphine past and currently. He helped create the first program in Vermont for treating pregnant opioid users. He currently is the Medical Director of 3 of the opiate treatment programs in Vermont. He is a statewide and national consultant to doctors for methadone and buprenorphine treatment. He conceived of the Hub and Spoke Model in Vermont. He is the former medical director and current staff physician at the Community Health Center in Burlington for 24 years.

Panel Discussion on Crisis Care, including Disability Rights Vermont, First Call, HCRS, and the Howard Center Street Team

Our panelists will share information about their organizations and discuss current approaches and challenges in providing crisis care in Vermont communities.

Moderator Bio: Patti Bauerle serves as a NAMI Vermont Board member and the Chair of NAMI Vermont’s Conference Committee. She has been serving as a Team Coordinator for a case management team in the Community Support Program at Howard Center since 2013. She started her 9 year tenure at Howard Center as a substitute for several residential programs in 2007. In 2008, she became a regular staff member at the Safe Haven Program, and continued to work there while she earned her MSW at UVM in 2010. In 2011 she started working as a Community Case Manager. Patti was born in New Jersey and raised in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont.  She attended Cedar Crest College in Allentown, PA, where she earned a B.A. in Psychology and Studio Art.