Morning Workshops

Building Flourishing Communities: Understanding the Impacts of Trauma, N.E.A.R. Science and Vermont’s Resiliency Movement
Vermont’s Building Flourishing Communities initiative is a presentation of a cluster of sciences describing the impacts of trauma on the brain and body, and how we can build resilience in our local communities to combat the serious impacts of trauma on our neighbors, family members and entire state. The N.E.A.R. sciences consist of the neuro-biology of trauma, epigenetics, the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study and resilience. This presentation will review each of these elements of the N.E.A.R. sciences to support participants’ understanding of, and therefore compassion for, everyone in their lives (including themselves if applicable) who have experienced trauma or adversity in life and is the first step in the beginning of our great state’s journey in working with each and every community in Vermont to flourish.

Speaker Bio: Matt Wolf has worked with youth and young adults of transition age for over 15 years in Vermont – working to inspire and empower their leadership development and advocating for them in the Vermont system of care and legislature. Matt is a certified trainer of Youth Thrive and the Building Flourishing Communities N.E.A.R. Science Trauma and Resilience training programs. As the Program Director of Vermont’s Youth in Transition (YIT) program, Matt is active in promoting young adult leadership & peer support work statewide, as well as, supporting staff in working to develop a strengths driven and empowering system of care for this population crossing the line between the children’s and adult service systems.

Collaborative Networks Approach: Vermont’s Journey With Open Dialogue Informed Approaches (Panel Discussion)
Representatives from the Howard Center and Counseling Service of Addison County will share their journey working with Open Dialogue-informed approaches, which has come to be called the Collaborative Network Approach (CNA). We will discuss the ways this approach has shifted agency culture and enabled us to better embody the humanitarian values to which we aspire, and how this approach emphasizes supporting the resilience of the whole family and/or social network in the midst of psychiatric or life crises. We will explain how this initiative is relevant to the larger state initiative in responding to individuals experiencing a first episode of psychosis. The panel also includes family members who will discuss their experiences participating in network meetings.

Speaker Bio: Sandra Steingard, MD, is Chief Medical Officer at Howard Center in Burlington, Vermont, and Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Vermont Larner College of Medicine. She is chair of the Board of Foundation for Excellence in Mental Health Care and a member of the board of Mad in America Continuing Education. She is the editor of the book, Critical Psychiatry: Controversies and Clinical Implications, published by Springer in 2019. she has trained for two years at the Institute for Dialogic Practice. She has been a trainer in training for Vermont’s Collaborative Network Approach.

Speaker Bio: Zelda Alpern, LICSW, is the Open Dialogue Coordinator at the Counseling Service of Addison County (CSAC) where she has worked in CRT and crisis response since 2013. Zelda has been an advocate for and has helped to coordinate the statewide intensive Collaborative Network Approach (CNA) training.



Empowering Empathy
Working in the mental health field is exceptionally important work. But, how can we empower others on their journey if we ourselves do not feel empowered? How can we do the work of helping others if we have not engaged with the power of empathy ourselves? This workshop will provide tactile, tangible and powerful tools for connecting to inner empowerment and engaging our “empathy” muscle. It all starts with being present, and from there we build the tools of inner confidence and gain resources for expressing empathy. Workshop participants will be guided to engage their innate presence, tune into their inner experience, and bring out their intrinsic abilities to connect to an empowered empathic expression that will liberate them from stuck patterns and allow their work in the field to shine.

Speaker Bio: Rooted in over 20 years of service, training and teaching, Sarah Lipton has worked with hundreds of leaders as they navigate all the challenges of leadership. Through her business, The Presence Point, Sarah works with organizations who wish to empower their leaders from the inside out. Her passion stems from the conviction that when leaders are genuine, society can bloom. She is a soon-to-be-published author, keynote speaker, podcaster and leadership consultant and lives high on a hill in East Calais, VT with her husband and two small daughters.


Afternoon Workshops

Zero Suicide: Lamoille County Mental Health’s Journey in Suicide Prevention
This presentation will provide a retrospective on what Lamoille County Mental Health Services had as policy and practice regarding suicide at the outset of engaging with a zero suicide effort. We will talk about how we addressed policy and practice changes to create a better response to persons who present as suicidal by creating improved internal responses. Our present focus is community-wide suicide prevention. We will share our efforts to support the use of evidence-based tools and practices, developing internal processes and our level of success in the involvement of the broader health, education, social service and business in this effort.

Speaker Bio: Monique Reil has worked in the mental health field since graduating from the University of Vermont with a BA in Psychology in 1981. She worked for eight years at the Vermont State Hospital and has been at Lamoille County Mental Health Services for the past 30 years working in crisis services. Monique is also a Team Two trainer and support group co-facilitator for survivors of suicide loss. Monique has been a member of the Zero Suicide committee at LCMHS since its’ inception in 2015.


Speaker Bio: Bryanne Castle has worked in mental health and social services since graduating with a bachelor’s degree in social work and beginning her career as a Social Services Director in a nursing home. Following completion of a graduate program in Mental Health Counseling, she joined LCMHS as the Clinical Intake Coordinator completing mental health assessments and overseeing centralized intake for both adults and youth at the agency. In that time, she has gained licensure as a mental health counselor as well as a licensed drug and alcohol counselor. She is a member of the Zero Suicide Committee since its’ inception in 2015 and is passionate about co-occurring treatment and partnering with community providers for whole person care. She has recently transitioned into the role of Adult Therapeutic Services Coordinator at LCMHS. She has been with the agency for 8 years.


Metabolizing Trauma, Panel by Panel: Reconciling Mental Illness and Reclaiming Personal Narrative Via the Comics Form
Cartoonist and graphic novelist Rachel Lindsey will share insight into her experience metabolizing trauma through comics, with an emphasis on the efficacy of visual narrative for processing mental illness. She will discuss the ways that manipulation of comics-specific narrative conventions (character design, panel construction, word balloons, lettering, linework, etc.) aid in the telling of delicate subject matter, and how visual-textual interplay uniquely enables the representation of complicated and conflicting versions of reality. She shares her experiences living with bipolar disorder, the impact of being a young person in America with a mental illness, and how sharing her story through comics and in her graphic novel “RX: A Graphic Memoir” has impacted her relationship with herself and towards her illness.

Speaker Bio: Rachel Lindsay is a Vermont-based cartoonist and author of RX: A Graphic Memoir. A powerful new voice in Graphic Medicine, Lindsay has appeared on Vermont Public Radio’s Vermont Edition, and in New York Magazine, and has spoken about her work at 2018 International Graphic Medicine Conference, The Miami Book Fair, Mount Sinai Hospital’s Icahn School of Medicine, Columbia University, The Fleming Museum, San Francisco State University and the California Institute for Integral Studies. Her comic strip, “Rachel Lives Here Now,” appears weekly in Vermont’s newspaper, Seven Days. She also teaches comics to adults and children.

Mindfulness Meditation for High Stress Situations
This workshop continues with the ideas presented by Steve Taubman in his keynote address surrounding the idea of mindfulness for staying positive in challenging situations. In this practical, interactive learning environment, you will learn effective meditation practices and how to incorporated these practices into your daily living to help improve your focus, cultivate compassion and stay positive through stressful times.

Speaker Bio: Dr. Steve Taubman is a bestselling author, physician, magician, hypnotist, and mindfulness coach. His bestselling book, UnHypnosis, and his newest book, Buddha in the Trenches, both teach tools based on ancient wisdom, positive psychology and the neuroscience of happiness. As a motivational speaker, Steve has shared entertaining insights and a unique perspective to many different crowds, from sales professionals to top celebrities. Steve currently resides in Vermont.