Trauma Conference 2023

Registration for the Trauma-Informed & Resilient Communities Conference will open at 9 a.m. Tuesday, September 5, 2023.


Descriptions of the workshops are below the flyer. 

Trauma Conference 2023

9th Annual Trauma-Informed & Resilient Communities Conference

PennWest Edinboro University, Pogue Student Center 8:30 AM to 4:15 PM (Doors Open 7:45 AM)

 The workshop abstracts below are provided as a reference for selecting conference workshops during registration. In addition to opening and closing keynote presentations, there will be three, 1.25hr sessions of workshops (10:15AM, 12:15PM and 1:45PM). There are also two extended workshops (Poverty Simulation and Hearing Voices) from 12:15-3PM.  For all workshops, please be sure to select a “second choice” workshop if in the event your first choice is filled. 

CEUs are pending approval for LSW (Licensed Social Worker), LCSW (Licensed Clinical Social Worker), LPC (Licensed Professional Counselor), and LMFT (Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist).

Workshops (WS 1) 10:15-11:30

WS 1-1 The Healing Power of Belonging S. Buffie

This session is for those who support people in their trauma healing journey. This session will specifically focus on building a foundational resilience factor: Belonging. Participants will learn how to build affiliation and why it matters for people who've experienced trauma. The session will focus on learning how to discover gifts and support engagement with an ‘inner circle’ of close friends as well as the community at large. At the end of the session participants will understand the connection between, and the importance of, contribution as a way to build belonging.

WS 1-2 Human Trafficking - It Happens Here! R. Hilliard, M. Sherwood

Human trafficking is more than an urban sex problem.  The reality is that human trafficking of men, women, and children of all ages and backgrounds is widespread throughout the country and world.   This workshop will review the types of trafficking, who is vulnerable, and what you can do to help prevent it in rural Northwestern PA.

WS 1-3 Shedding Lies: A Personal Journey towards Trauma-Informed School Environments A. Katona Linn

In this engaging and heartfelt session, we will embark on a deeply personal journey that intersects with the professional realm of creating trauma-sensitive school environments. Drawing from my own experiences chronicled in "Shedding Lies: Living Beyond Childhood Trauma," we will explore how my path to healing aligns with the crucial work of infusing trauma-informed practices into our educational institutions. Join me in this profound session as we draw inspiration from personal narratives to empower our efforts in making schools havens of healing, growth, and support for all students. Together, we will uncover the connections between personal transformation and the creation of trauma-informed school environments that nurture the well-being of our youth.

 WS 1-4 Social Determinants of Health (SDOH): Three County Initiatives M. Rosado-Husband, B. Torongeau, P. Weidman

Social determinants of health (SDoH) are the nonmedical factors that influence health outcomes. They are the conditions in which people are born, grow, work, live, and age, and the wider set of forces and systems shaping the conditions of daily life. ( This presentation and discussion will feature the initiatives of three counties as they strive to improve SODH in their communities—Crawford County’s HOPE Meadville, Mercer County’s SDoH Commodity Funds, and Venango County’s Neighborhood HUB Project.

 WS 1-5 Creating a Trauma-Informed Criminal Justice System R. Reed

Rob Reed, Executive Deputy Attorney General in the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office, will explain the challenges and efforts to create trauma-informed criminal justice systems in each of the components of the criminal justice system including Juvenile Justice, Policing, Courts, Corrections, and Probation/ Parole/ & Reentry. Trauma-informed care is an approach to educate people about the prevalence of trauma in our society and to provide trauma-informed measures, including treatment, to help people suffering from trauma to heal and recover. Creating a trauma-informed juvenile and criminal justice systems seeks to recognize that most, if not all, people within these systems have been impacted by trauma and adversity and/ or are currently suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.   This includes those providing services such as police, correctional officials, and probation and parole officers.   Trauma-informed policies, programs, and procedures will assist in preventing the re-traumatization of individuals in the system. This will increase the safety for all, decrease recidivism, and support the recovery of those experiencing trauma and mental illness. Participants will hear from this panel of experts who will cover trauma-informed practices occurring within the juvenile justice system, law enforcement, the courtroom, corrections, and probation, parole and reentry.

WS 1-6 Adverse Childhood Experiences and Substance Misuse and Substance Use Disorder T. Hough, J. Setta

Studies have shown the connections between trauma and addiction.  This training will give a brief overview of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and a deeper look into the studies that show the connection between ACEs and Substance Misuse and Substance Use Disorder (SUD).  We will also discuss protective factors for those who are at risk for developing a SUD and how we, who serve those who live with a Substance Use Disorder can become more trauma-sensitive.

Extended Workshops (WS 2A) 12:15-3:00)

WS 2A 12:15 -3:00 Poverty Simulation P. Weidman

Poverty is a reality for many individuals and families. But unless you’ve experienced poverty, it’s difficult to truly understand. The Poverty Simulation bridges that gap from misconception to understanding. This simulation is an interactive immersion experience. It sensitizes community participants to the realities of poverty. The simulation is based on real clients and their lives. During the simulation, participants will role-play a month in poverty and experience low-income families’ lives. 

 WS 2B 12:15-3:00 Hearing Voices Program T. Bornick

The Hearing Voices Program is designed to give individuals working with anyone who may experience mental health issues, a new perspective on the difficulties one may have when they hear voices.  It provides for a series of experiential exercises to gain insight and empathy for individuals who hear voices.  Participants use headphones for listening to a specially designed recording.  During this simulated experience of hearing voices, participants undertake a series of tasks including social interaction in the community, a psychiatric interview, cognitive testing, and an activities group in a mock day treatment program.  The simulation experience is followed by a debriefing and discussion period.  

 Workshops (WS 2) 12:15-1:30

WS 2-1 Roadmaps for Resilience: Finding HOPE as Helpful Appreciators D. Winters

How can we support the resilience of children, youth, and the professional community working alongside them? Real and lasting change can start with finding what ordinary people do extraordinarily well in simple, everyday moments. In this workshop session, we will examine two areas of research that have contributed to much of what we know about resilience and consider our own capacity to support the growth of resilience for those around us. We will explore how a relationship-focused approach can help support and grow helpful appreciation and build resilience for the children, youth, and their helpers. 

WS 2-2 Building Protective Factors in Youth: Our “Community Report Card J. Markiewicz

This workshop is designed review the most up-to-date youth survey data for Pennsylvania and identify priority areas of concern for students in grades 6-12. Information will be shared on the enhancement of protective factors that buffer youth from risk in the areas of substance use, mental health, trauma, and other problem behaviors. Based on evidence-based prevention frameworks (SAMHSA, CTC, SPF), the presenter will share best practices from the field based on over 25 years of training and facilitating positive youth development.

 WS 2-3 Aevidum “I’ve Got Your Back” Youth Empowerment in Mercer County L. Leskovac

Aevidum empowers youth to shatter the silence surrounding depression, suicide, and other issues facing teens. ( The word Aevidum, which means “I’ve got your back,” was created by students after a classmate died by suicide. Aevidum inspires schools and communities to adopt cultures of care and advocacy, encouraging all members to have their friends’ backs. Aevidum exists in elementary schools, middle schools, high schools, and colleges across the nation. Aevidum has now grown to hundreds of clubs in elementary, middle, and high schools and colleges throughout Pennsylvania and beyond. Find out more about this innovative approach to peer led mental health awareness which is being implemented in several Mercer County PA school districts, supported by Mercer County Communities That Care. 

 WS 2-4 Situational Awareness and Self-Defense S. Delo

This experiential, trauma-informed workshop is suitable for all who have an interest in learning more about mental and physical self-defense with Susie Delo, certified self-dense instructor. Learn how to handle the body’s natural reactions to stress. This class will introduce simple but effective techniques, moves, and weapons (everyday items) that can be used to protect yourself and others. Situational awareness (mental self-defense) will be discussed to make wise choices, be brave, be alert, be prepared and keep safe.  Please note: A consent Form will need to be signed in order to participate as participation will include body-based movement (voluntary, self-regulated and within your own limits).  

WS 2-5 Trauma-informed conversations--the Benefits and Barriers of Self-care for the Social Service Professional T. Leet, T. Micsky

Social service professionals face a variety of unique challenges including increased stress, insurmountable workloads, health concerns, ethical dilemmas and increased client needs. To maintain wellness and professional vitality, social workers should have an understanding of the risks of burnout, compassion fatigue, and secondary and vicarious trauma, as well as, methods to counter various risk factors. After learning about these concepts, participants will use tools to assess professional quality of life, self-care practices, and trauma-informed self-care methods, including resources and supports at the organizational level.

Workshops (WS 3) 1:45-3:00

WS 3-1 Kindness:  The Antidote for What Ails Us B. Harlan 

Committing simple acts of kindness can transform individuals and communities while alleviating much of the stress and anxiety that persists in today’s superficial and chaotic environments. This workshop will explore the impact of acts of kindness on the giver and receiver and how they can serve as catalysts for positive growth. Participants will learn the formula for restoring faith in humanity and how committing acts of kindness can turn the average person into a global agent of change.

 WS 3-2 Teen Mental Health First Aid USA training-an Introduction T. Hough, J. Setta

Adolescence is a time of critical change and development, and the time when mental health challenges may first emerge. Those challenges may be the cause for falling grades, problems with close relationships and substance use. Take comfort knowing students or young people in youth organizations will be prepared to provide support for their peers as well as better cope with mental health challenges themselves — and get assistance from a trusted adult. This presentation will provide an overview of the importance and process of implementing tMHFA. 

 WS 3-3 QPR-Help Save a Life A. Shears

QPR stands for Question, Persuade, and Refer and are the three simple steps that anyone can learn to help save a life from suicide. QPR is not a form of treatment but is intended to offer hope through positive action. It is listed under SAMHSAS National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices as an effective gatekeeper training in suicide prevention. Just as people are trained in CPR to save lives, people trained in QPR will learn to recognize the warning signs of a suicide crisis and how to question, persuade, and refer someone to help. QPR is a gatekeeper training, which is training anyone to recognize a crisis and warning signs that someone might be contemplating suicide and then to be able to refer the individual at risk of suicide.

 WS 3-4 Trauma and the Body: the Physiology of Trauma and Healing with Somatic Experiences G. Wood Lakshmi

Take a transformative journey into the intricate connection between trauma and the human body. In this engaging presentation, you will delve into the profound impact trauma has on our physiology and discover the empowering potential of somatic experiences in facilitating healing and resilience. Prepare for a dynamic experience as Gretchen offers optional somatic practices, inviting you to move your body, embrace laughter, and have fun. These practices, while entirely optional and non-strenuous, create an embodied connection to the healing process. Join this enlightening presentation where Gretchen will empower you with practical tools and insights to embrace the body's wisdom in trauma healing. Gain a fresh perspective on the integration of somatic experiences and the path to gradual restoration and resilience.

 WS 3-5 HealthRHYTHMS Group Empowerment Drumming B. Mears, A. Helmer

Try out HealthRHYTHMS® -- a fun, evidence-based whole person strategy which promotes socialization and ensures a healthy non-strenuous workout. On a deeper level it builds bridges while fostering nurturing, support, camaraderie, self-respect and respect for others. It is not really about drumming, but uses the drum as a tool for communication and personal expression. This system can be integrated as a therapeutic strategy in group counseling sessions, support groups, rehabilitation centers, schools, hospitals, aging facilities and more.