Previous Training Workshops

Previous Training and Conferences

Communities of Color, Substance Use, and Cultural Competence
Yvette R. Murry, MSW, LCSW
December 11, 2019

  • Racial and ethnic communities currently make up about a third of the population of the nation and are expected to become a majority by 2050. People of color (POC) experience disproportionate rates of mental and/or substance use disorders, and increased barriers in accessing treatment, than their white counterparts. Social policy, health disparities and institutional protocols often lead to POC experiencing a greater burden to accessing mental and substance use services. This workshop is designed to enhance substance and mental health providers’ ability to recognize the socio-political forces and barriers they must navigate in the provision of assuring services are culturally competent and evidenced-based. Using a historical lens, participants will have the opportunity to acquire an understanding of individual, micro- and macro-level cultural barriers, that lead to poorer health outcomes and subsequent risk for other related public health diseases in communities of color.

Understanding Racial Trauma
La’Tesha Sampson, PhD, MPA, MSW, LCSW
November 14, 2019

  • Racial trauma, which results from traumatization due to experiences of racism, can be due to major experiences such as hate crimes, or the accumulation of smaller experiences of discrimination and microaggressions over time. For clients of color, the depth of the feelings that result from these experiences can have a significant influence on attitudes and beliefs around mental health treatment. This workshop will help clinicians working with clients of color to understand the impact of racial trauma on help seeking behavior. Participants will gain insight into the effects of racial trauma on the individual and the therapeutic relationship, including conflict in the relationship between therapy and faith/spirituality, worry about the power dynamics in the therapeutic relationship, and shame regarding personal strength and values.

Detention, Deportation, and Contemporary Prejudice: Social Work Advocacy in the U.S. Immigration Experience
Jonnell Rodriguez, MSW, LSW and Serges Demefack, MA
October 11, 2019

  • Immigrants face many barriers and obstacles when integrating into U.S. society, including adversities related to power and privilege, race, gender bias, sexual orientation, and class. Detention and deportation are two of the main mitigating factors of the U.S. Immigration system that produce these adverse effects. Social workers and other service providers serve as major supports for immigrants who experience crises while navigating through the immigration experience. Acquiring knowledge of immigration law and social policies affecting the immigrant community and the access each immigration status provides to clients in the form of public benefits can better equip service providers to assist and advocate for these individuals.

Understanding Sexual Harassment: The Not-So Hidden Acts of Privilege and Power
Rupa M. Khetarpal, LCSW & Julie Roebuck, LCSW
May 31, 2019

  • Sexual harassment is a prevalent and pervasive social epidemic that has a devastating impact on our community. This course increased participants’ understanding of the dynamics of sexual harassment, the relationship with privilege and power, and its varied faces while increasing awareness about appropriate responses and interventions. The workshop used dynamic interactive breakout sessions and audiovisual tools to explore the psychological impact, aftermath, and empowerment strategies for survivors of sexual harassment. Participants explored appropriate responses for survivors as they disclose or report in the media, within social work classrooms, in private practice settings, in agency settings, and within your communities. Countertransference exercises were utilized to examine the impact of power and control on clinicians.

The Seventh Annual Culture Counts Conference 
May 17, 2019

  • The Seventh Annual Culture Counts Conference explored the many intersections that occur between social justice, cultural identities, mental health and substance use needs, and the provision of service. Current events in the United States and across the globe indicate the need for increased awareness of and sensitivity towards individual identities and the influence of these identities on help-seeking behaviors. A choice of one morning and one afternoon workshop provided participants with knowledge and skills imperative to recognizing and appreciating the many ways in which their clients cultural identities and needs intersect with the society around them and the provision and reception of services.

Treatment and Advocacy with Gender Diverse Clients: Becoming An Aware, Affirmative, and Advocating Clinical Ally
Tracey Post, LCSW and Eboni Gadson, LSW
April 26, 2019

  • The process of growing up with unique gender awareness and identity, coming out, a lack of awareness from families, communities and healthcare providers are all issues that gender affirmative providers are called to understand and address, as individuals with diverse gender identities face discrimination and prejudice on a regular basis. In order to be affirming and alliance-building, practitioners must walk with their clients as they healthily integrate sexual identity and support of gender inclusivity into their practice and the larger community. This workshop addressed gender identity and coming out through the lens of culture, WPATH guidelines and legislation review, transition across the life span, and alliance building.  Participants explored explicit and implicit biases around gender and sexual identity, as well as dive into what it looks like to truly walk in the world as an ally.

Understanding the Culture of Urban Poverty
Keva White, LCADC, LSW
March 8, 2019

  • The culture of poverty is a concept embedded in social theory that explains the cycle of poverty. Although the title of this workshop points to urban settings, the culture of poverty reflects the concept that the economically disadvantaged possess unique value systems that shape characteristics, behaviors and attitudes of individuals and families regardless of geographic location. Poverty, coupled with disparities associated with mental health and substance abuse treatment, can create great challenges for individuals, families and communities. This workshop was designed to provide participants with a conceptual framework for understanding the impact of poverty on their clients and provide best practices to enhance provider-client relationships in an effort to improve treatment outcomes.

Mental Health and the Immigrant Experience
Yvette R. Murry, MSW, LCSW
December 10, 2018

  • There are a multitude of challenges related to the socio-political frameworks that characterize immigration in the United States. Immigration-related policies are often associated with discrimination, harassment, social isolation, fear, marginalization and/or trauma. Many immigrants and refugees come from cultures where mental health is not openly discussed and they may not have the language or resources to seek treatment. This workshop explored the impact of policies and perspectives that influence clinical work and the therapeutic process when working with immigrant communities. Discussions examined historical and current attitudes towards immigration, as well as, circumstances that render many “newcomers” in emotional, physical and/or psychic distress.

The Significance of Culture in Diagnosing and Treating Substance Use and Mental Health Disorders
Anthony Polizzi, LPC, LCADC, CCS
October 19, 2018

  • The DSM-5 highlights the significance of culture in diagnosing all mental disorders. There is a cultural effect regarding addictions (risk factors, beliefs/ understanding of addiction as a disease, views towards treatment, impact on life areas that are culturally influenced). All clinicians benefit from examining the role of culture in their counseling, as well as their own cultural influences and biases. Through the use of lecture, individual/small group exercises, and sharing of personal case experiences, participants examined the significance of cultural influences on norms, beliefs, values and biases, the benefits of cultural reciprocity (vs ethnocentricity) and the impact of culture on addictions, mental health, and the role of the professional, in light of the DSM-5 mandates.

Enhancing Perspectives in Providing Therapy for the Intellectual & Developmentally Disabled Population
Deirdre O’Reilly, LCSW and Kristen Sellix, LCSW
September 28, 2018

  • In order to work effectively with the Intellectually and/or Developmentally Disabled population (I/DD), it is important to have an understanding of neurodiversity as a culture and how various cultures and races respond to and view I/DD individuals. This workshop explored neurodiversity in the context of many cultures seen in the U.S. along with the unique clinical challenges often seen when working with this population, along with how treatment priorities can change with cultural perspective. In addition, participants were given practical knowledge and skills and specific clinical interventions for working with a person with I/DD and their families.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy for African American Clients
La’Tesha Sampson, MPA, LCSW
June 25, 2018

  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is an evidence based treatment model designed to help people manage overwhelming feelings and self-defeating behaviors. These feelings and behaviors may create major challenges in life, such as: angry outbursts, violence, depression, immobility and avoidance by suicide attempts, substance abuse, and eating disorders. Due to the uniqueness of the African American experience in the United States, DBT is a particularly beneficial modality to employ while working with African American clients. This interactive workshop assisted clinicians with tailoring the DBT core modules of mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotion regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness skills training for African American clients in a culturally sensitive manner.

Trauma-Informed Care Principles for Refugees, Immigrants, and Asylum-Seekers
Monica Indart, Psy.D
June 1 , 2018

  • The current global refugee crisis is fueled by long-standing issues that reflect economic, political and public health realities and failures. These failures have led to unprecedented rates of psychological trauma – trauma which includes experiences of torture – for many of the refugees forced to leave countries such as Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, South Sudan, and Eritrea, to name but a few. These families risk their lives – and the lives of their children – because they see no other means of survival. Lost in the chaos of this crisis are the driving forces of justice. This full day workshop will review essential principles and evidence-based practices for meeting the needs of refugees, immigrants and asylum-seekers from a perspective that integrates trauma-focused care with social justice principles. Cultural contexts will be examined, from a phenomenological perspective, that help us empathically understand what it means to be a refugee in the epicenter of an unprecedented global crisis.

The Sixth Annual Culture Counts Conference
May 18, 2018

  • The Sixth Annual Culture Counts Conference highlighted the role of advocacy in creating culturally competent services, organizations, and systems. Advocacy is an intrinsic part of the provision of mental health and addiction services and can take many forms: therapists and case managers advocating for their clients needs, committees advocating for structural changes within an organization, or agencies advocating for necessary change within a community. When advocating for a cause, one must possess both knowledge of the need and understanding of why the need must be met. A choice of one morning and one afternoon workshop provided participants with knowledge and skills imperative to understanding the context of their consumers needs and advocating on their behalf.

Cultural Competence in the 21st Century
Judeth Forlenza Wesley MSW, LCSW, LCADC
March 13, 2018

  • Co-occurring disorders cross all boundaries of race, ethnicity, culture, socioeconomic levels, religion, gender, and age. Treatment cannot be uniformly the same for each group. Effective treatment acknowledges and embraces difference. This workshop will give participants knowledge and skills on the various aspects of intersectionality when engaging people from diverse populations who seek co-occurring services.

Transgender 101
Tracey Post, LCSW, CCTC, CST
December 5, 2017

  • What determines a person’s gender? Gender and sexuality are central features of identity development; and our understanding of the distinction between sexual orientation and gender identity has often been blurred. As such, people with diverse gender identities still face discrimination and prejudice on many levels. In order to provide culturally affirmative services to these individuals, practitioners must possess the ability guide clients towards the healthy integration of their sexual identity, and support gender inclusivity in the larger community. The process of growing up with unique gender awareness and identity, coming out, and a lack of awareness from families, communities, and healthcare providers are all issues that gender affirmative providers are called to understand and address.
    This workshop explored the latest research and understanding of both gender identity and sexual orientation. Participants learned the distinctions between gender and sexual orientation; the “Coming Out” process; unique risk factors for transgender individuals; and societal and cultural attitudes which may influence institutional approaches to these issues, including relevant state and federal legislature.

Suicide as it Transcends Cultural Boundaries
Nicci Spinazzola, Ed.S., LMFT, LPC, ACS
November 17, 2017

  • The relationship between suicide behavior and culture is an important one because traumatic experiences are part of the life cycle, universal in manifestation and occurrence, and typically demand a response from culture in terms of healing, treatment, interventions, counseling, and medical care. To understand the relationship between suicidal behaviors and culture requires a “big picture” overview of both concepts. This workshop explored the dimensions of psychological suffering, the dimensions of cultural systems as they govern daily life, and opportunities for healing. Additionally, participants learned at least 5 distinct elements of healing in cultures, as well as how cultures create social and psychological mechanisms to assist its members who have suffered significant traumatic events.

Misogyny, Sexual Terrorism, and the Consumption of Women
Jill Zinckgraf, MPA
October 10, 2017

  • Sexual terrorism is a key social theory that is crucial in understanding how sexual violence is portrayed and responded to in our society. It is argued that this is a system by which males frighten, and by frightening, control and dominate females. This workshop will examine the five (5) cultural components needed to support the objectification and subsequent acceptance of violence against women in contemporary American culture. Additionally, participants will evaluate movements of change that have positive impacts towards social justice and gain interventions applicable in practice.

Understanding Street Gangs in a Cultural Context
Jack Farrell, LCSW

June 13, 2017

  • Gangs have evolved into their own culture by establishing a historical pattern of beliefs, values, and norms that are transmitted from one generation to the next. This training provided participants with insight into the impact of culture and intergenerational gang life on current gang life in the community. Participants received an overview of the relationship between violence and gangs in our communities, including the risk factors for gang involvement and common gang identifiers; developed understanding of the importance of community responsibility in addressing gang violence and gang involvement; and learned strategies for engaging family members and community providers in this process

The Fifth Annual Culture Counts Conference
May 19, 2017
To view the conference brochure, please click here.

  • As social climates shift both within our country’s borders and around the globe, cultural competence becomes increasingly relevant and essential. It is crucial that service providers continue to educate themselves on the culturally specific needs of their consumers, as well as the historical context from which these needs emerge. A keynote address by Dr. Khyati Y. Joshi and a choice of one morning and one afternoon workshop provided participants with knowledge imperative to understanding the context in which their consumers exist and the practical skills required to incorporate this knowledge into the provision of the most culturally appropriate services possible.

Health Disparities among Sexual and Gender Minority Latinos in the U.S.: Implications for Research and Clinical Practice
Omar Martinez, JD, MPH, MS
April 28, 2017

  • Hispanics/Latinos (henceforth: Latinos) are the fastest growing ethnic segment in the US, expected to grow 167% from 2010 to 2050, compared to 42% growth for the total U.S. population. Currently, Latinos make up 17% of the nation’s total population, with projections that this number will nearly double to 30% by 2050. With growing health disparities among this group, the highest burden remains among sexual and gender minority Latinos. This course provided a summary of the current empirical literature on health disparities, including disparities in HIV/AIDS and mental health, among sexual and gender minority Latinos; identified research gaps and specific types of vulnerabilities faced by these communities; and presented recommendations and evidence-based prevention and treatment approaches.

A Modern Understanding of Socio-Economic Cultural Differences
Paula C. Rodriguez Rust, PhD

December 16, 2016

  • This workshop examined socio-economic differences in lifestyle patterns, family arrangements, and educational/economic choices that are often characterized as `cultural’ differences between social classes. The “culture of poverty” theory posits that parents teach their children values and behaviors that result in children perpetuating the social class status of their parents. This course replaces that theory with a more modern view which includes understanding the opportunity structures within which people of different social classes make their choices. This change in perspective allows mental health professionals to become better equipped to recognize the resources available to, and the challenges facing, those from disadvantaged social classes and, therefore, provide services and guidance that are appropriate and feasible for the client.  The workshop examined the complexities that result when status differentials compound other cultural differences, concept of implicit bias and the impact of implicit bias on assessment and equity in service provision. By the end of the workshop, participants gained a very different understanding of why a home with no food in the refrigerator might have a 78” flat screen TV in the living room.

Understanding Military Culture and the Needs of Service Members in the Community
Kathleen Ray, PhD, LCSW and Patricia A. Findley, PhD, LCSW
November 9, 2016

  • In the past ten years, ongoing conflicts in the Middle East have caused an increase in the prevalence of post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD), traumatic brain injury, homelessness, suicide, military sexual trauma, interpersonal violence within families, and substance abuse amongst military personnel returning home from tours of duty. Consequently, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has had to increase the number of mental health professionals in order to provide adequate care for veterans. However, only a small percentage of veterans receive care at VA medical facilities and clinics, leaving a large percentage of veterans seeking care at general community clinics by providers who have little to no education, training, or experience working with veterans. This course provided community-based social workers, counselors, and other mental health professionals with foundational knowledge about the military and the VA. Participants gained insight into military culture, received clinical instruction of assessment and current evidence based treatment models, and learned about the availability of appropriate resources.

Cultural Factors in the Treatment of Trauma
Nicci Spinazzola, Ed.S., LMFT, LPC, ACS
October 25, 2016

  • Traumatic life events can be simple or complex in nature and result in simple or complex forms of post- traumatic adaptation. Similarly, cultures can be simple or complex in nature with different roles, social structures, authority systems, and mechanisms for dealing with individual and collective forms of trauma. The relationship between trauma and culture is an important one. Traumatic experiences are part of the life cycle, universal in manifestation and occurrence, and typically demand a response from culture in terms of healing, treatment, interventions, counseling, and medical care. In order to understand the relationship between trauma and culture, clinicians must have an understanding of both concepts. This training gave participants a “big picture” overview of trauma and culture and they ways in which they influence a consumer’s experience, addressed the ways in which pre-existing and co-occurring conditions such as mental illness and substance use can affect outcomes, and presented strategies and interventions for working effectively with culturally diverse clients with a history of trauma.

Spirituality in Recovery for Clients with Dual Diagnosis/Co-Occurring Disorders
La’Tesha Sampson, MPA, MSW, LCSW
September 16, 2016

  • Recovering individuals often report high levels of religious faith and religious affiliation, often identifying themselves as being more spiritual than religious. Additionally, among recovering individuals, higher levels of religious faith and spirituality are associated with a more optimistic life orientation, greater perceived social support, higher resilience to stress, and lower levels of anxiety. Similarly, in mental health treatment, religion and spirituality can be effective coping mechanisms, though they are often underutilized in many treatment plans. Integrating spirituality can lead to better-rounded goal attainment and provide an enduring resource for consumers in distress. Participants in this interactive training developed awareness of the difference between religion and spirituality, as well as the importance of integrating spirituality into treatment for clients with co-occurring substance abuse and mental health disorders.

Race, Ethnicity, and Culture in the Therapeutic Relationship: The Transference-Countertransference Matrix
Anita McLean, PhD, PsyD

June 24, 2016

  • This course addressed issues of racial, ethnic, and cultural similarities and differences between therapist and client, and the ways in which these issues impact the therapeutic relationship. In particular, participants developed an understanding of racial, ethnic, and cultural transference and counter-transference issues as they emerge in treatment, as well as effective ways of using these transference and countertransference issues to help clients. The course was designed not only to raise awareness of how race, ethnicity, and culture impact our work with clients but also to teach participants how to use transference-countertransference matrices to support the provision of effective services.

Providing Mental Health Services in a Racially-Structured Society
Bonnie Cushing, LCSW, Charley Flint, PhD, & Jeff Hitchcock, MS, MBA

June 10, 2016 

  • This course examined cultural conditions in the U.S. through the exploration of historical and current disparities across race. Participants gained insight into the ways in which these disparities manifest within institutional systems and structures and, consequently, how this manifestation is reflected in socioeconomic status, education levels, and other cultural factors that contribute to an individual’s world view. In addition, the course examined how white normative culture, a history of oppression, and current disparities specifically bear upon the clinical setting and provision of mental health services within the context of a cultural competence framework (Sue 2001). This framework focused on individual, programmatic, and organizational levels of practice, and illustrated the ways in which each of these levels of practice are interwoven and connected in a racially-structured society.

The Fourth Annual Culture Counts Conference
May 13, 2016
To view the conference brochure, please click here.

  • The Fourth Annual Culture Counts Conference focused on the impact of experiences with institutional structures and systems on an individual’s lived experience, mental health, and provider-consumer relationship. Daily interactions with institutions such as schools, employers, government and criminal justice systems, and organizations such as mental health and substance abuse agencies shape individuals’ perceptions of the opportunities available to them, consequently affecting their decision-making processes, behavioral choices, and mental health needs and outcomes. When made conscious, this knowledge can improve a provider’s ability to deliver inclusive, appropriate, and effective services. Back by popular demand, Dr. Michael Fowlin delivered a keynote performance, I am not the Enemy, that followed-up on last year’s You Don’t Know Me Until You Know Me. In addition, a choice of one morning and one afternoon workshop provided participants with knowledge and skills imperative to understanding the context in which their consumers develop their worldview—by taking a walk in their shoes.

Trauma & Mental Health Treatment for Korean and Other East Asian Cultures
Julie Kim Richards, LCSW
April 22, 2016

  • This course provided participants with foundational knowledge about New Jersey’s Korean and East Asian populations through the provision of demographic information, as well as information on cultural backgrounds, attitudes, beliefs, and common practices and values – particularly as they relate to trauma, mental health, and social services. The course emphasized that cultural competence begins with self-awareness and encouraged participants to explore differences through experiential group activities. Participants learned how to apply cultural knowledge in the provision of effective mental health services to Korean and other East Asian consumers, including culturally appropriate strategies and interventions.

Culturally Competent Assessment and Treatment of Adolescents with Self-Harming and Suicidal Behaviors
Carolina Hausmann-Stabile, PhD
March 8, 2016

  • Engagement in self-harming and suicidal behaviors begins and peaks during adolescence. These behaviors can carry long lasting consequences as they are associated with negative mental health outcomes, including depression and substance abuse. The assessment and treatment of self-harming and suicidal behaviors poses many challenges for clinicians, in part because most youth presenting them are reluctant to engage in treatment.  This workshop discussed the prevalence, presentation, assessment, and treatment of self-harming and suicidal behaviors among youth ages 14 to 24. The discussion emphasized understanding risk disparities by gender, ethnicity, immigration status, and culture. Clinicians gained assessment and treatment tools from a cultural and developmental perspective.

Understanding Compound Risks: Providing Effective Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services to LGBTQ Youth and Young Adults
Philip T. McCabe, CSW, CAS, CDVC
February 26, 2016

  • LGBTQ youth and young adults are disproportionately affected by the risks that arise from the compounding of issues such as oppression stemming from racism and sexism, harassment, victimization, violence, homelessness, family rejection, cyber bulling, etc. These, as well as other forms of trauma, can often lead to substance abuse. Understanding these elements, as well as the intersectionality of race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status on youth development, self-identification, coming out, and community supports is essential to providing effective mental health and substance abuse services to LGBTQ youth and young adults. This training will provide mental health and substance abuse professionals with the knowledge, skills, and resources that will enable them to work effectively with LGBTQ youth and young adults.

The DSM-5 Cultural Formulation Interview as a Model of Clinician Cultural Competence
Neil Krishan Aggarwal, MD, MBA and Roberto Lewis-Fernández, MD, MTS
January 29, 2016 

  • Government and professional organizations contend that clinician cultural competence training can reduce racial and ethnic health disparities. Cultural competence approaches, however, differ by provider discipline, training methods, and outcomes measured, with no indication of which methods clinicians find helpful. One cultural competence model with emerging evidence is the psychiatric cultural formulation which has been revised as the Cultural Formulation Interview (CFI) for DSM-5. A 2014 LancetCommission on culture and health has advocated for CFI use throughout all medical subspecialties, including mental health and substance abuse counseling, given its evidence base and focus on patient cultural views of illness and treatment relevant beyond psychiatry. This workshop trained participants in the training package found to be most helpful by 75 clinicians in the DSM-5 CFI field trial.

Working with Veterans and Their Families: How Community Social Workers Can Address the Needs of Veterans
Patricia Findley, PhD, LCSW and Kathleen Ray, PhD, LCSW
June 12, 2015

  • In the past ten years, ongoing conflicts in the Middle East have caused an increase in the prevalence of post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD), traumatic brain injury, homelessness, suicide, military sexual trauma, interpersonal violence within families, and substance abuse amongst military personnel returning home from tours of duty. Consequently, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has had to increase the number of mental health professionals in order to provide adequate care for veterans. However, only a small percentage of veterans receive care at VA medical facilities and clinics, leaving a large percentage of veterans seeking care at general community clinics by providers who have little to no education, training, or experience working with veterans. This course provided community-based social workers, counselors, and other mental health professionals with foundational knowledge about the military and the VA. Participants gained insight into military culture, received clinical instruction of assessment and current evidence based treatment models, and learned about the availability of appropriate resources.

Survivor to Thriver: Working with Victims of Commercial Sexual Exploitation
Carrie Speiser, MPA and Jennifer Hammer
May 20 and June 4, 2015

  • The second part of a two-day training, Survivor to Thriver gave mental health professionals strategies and interventions for supporting victims of commercial sexual exploitation (CSE) through their recovery process. Participants gained insight into the many facets of working with CSE victims, including the impact of trauma and the principles of trauma informed care, skill-building techniques for Motivational Interviewing (MI), responding to victims, the stages of change in the recovery process, and vicarious trauma of family members and helping professionals. Additional resources were provided.

The Third Annual Culture Counts Conference
May 15, 2015
To view the conference brochure in a PDF format, please click here.

  • Individual and collective identities are rooted in the intersections of experience and cultural background, which shape a person’s perspectives and guides their navigation of the world around them. The third annual Culture Counts Conference cultivated awareness of differences across generations, abilities, sexual identities, gender orientations, races, ethnicities, and cultures and the impact of these differences on both familial and therapeutic relationships. The keynote performance by Dr. Michael Fowlin, along with a choice of one morning and one afternoon workshop, highlighted the importance of recognizing, understanding, and incorporating this awareness into a culturally competent, strength-based approach to mental health service delivery.

Haitian Culture and Mental Health 
Ghislene Meance, PsyD
April 24, 2015

  • In this workshop, mental health providers gained insight into various aspects of the Haitian culture and the ways in which cultural identity impacts work with Haitian immigrant clients and their family members. The workshop explored specific help-seeking behaviors prevalent in the Haitian community as well as behaviors and expectations of Haitian clients when in therapy. Participants learned ways to manage challenges and difficulties that may arise in therapy through the use of clinical vignettes.

Micro-Aggressions: Making the Invisible Visible in the Therapeutic Setting
Debra Chatman-Finley, MA, DVS, LPC and Gliceria Perez, LCSW
April 15, 2015

  • Micro-aggressions are everyday occurrences which reflect a person’s internalized stereotypes and prejudices. These verbal or nonverbal interactions are often unconscious and unintentional, and are difficult to recognize because they are subtle and appear innocuous. Therapists often bear witness to clients’ experiences of micro-aggressions that leave them feeling inferior, dismissed, or devalued. But what happens when therapists are the ones committing micro-aggressions? While there are several types of micro-aggressions, this course focused on micro-aggressions committed as a result of race and class. This course provided a safe venue in which participants are encouraged to examine their own beliefs in terms of race and class, and how these beliefs may unconsciously manifest as micro-aggressions in treatment and/or the therapeutic relationship. Through the use of videos and questionnaires/scales, participants examined the consequences of micro-aggressions on clients and how to engage in conversation with clients around these issues.

Sexual and Interpersonal Violence in the LGBTQ Community: Providing Trauma Sensitive and LGBTQ Affirmative Services
Philip McCabe, CSW, CAS, CDVC, DRCC
March 20, 2015

  • The prevalence of heterosexism, homophobia, and transphobia in our culture puts LGBTQ individuals at high risk for sexual and interpersonal violence. Sexual violence is commonly used as a way to punish and humiliate LGBTQ individuals and these types of assaults may more than double the risk of substance abuse for survivors. This course covered a range of traumatic experiences perpetrated against members of the LGBTQ community, including sexual assault, domestic violence, intimate partner violence, family violence, institutional oppression, and hate crimes. Participants learned about the various aspects of interpersonal violence, particularly as they pertain to awareness of cultural aspects, including, but not limited to, race, ethnicity, religion, ability, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, gender expression, and gender identity. Mental health and addiction professionals will gain insight into the difficulties encountered by LGBTQ victims receiving services in non-LGBTQ specific settings and will learn ways to make services more inclusive, sensitive, and affirmative. The course will help providers integrate trauma sensitivity and LGBTQ affirmative services, as well as provide beneficial resources and referrals.

Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking 101: Overview and Prevention
Gina Hernandez, MA and Jennifer Hammer, BA
March 5, 2015

  • The first part of a two-day training, Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking 101 provided an overview of human trafficking in New Jersey, with a particular emphasis on the commercial sexual exploitation of children. This training included information about the scope of commercial sexual exploitation in New Jersey, risk factors for exploitation, indicators for identifying victims, state and national resources, and prevention strategies.

Culturally Competent Evidence-Based Approaches in Clinical Work with Latino Children and Families
Carolina Hausmann-Stabile, PhD, LMSW
February 6, 2015

  • This workshop provided resources for clinical social workers and counselors interested in incorporating culturally competent evidence-based approaches (EBT) into their practice with Latino children and families. Clinicians were taken through the process of selecting EBTs that can be used in social work practice at various locations (e.g., agencies, private practices), and gained tools on how to implement the EBTs in the client’s assessment, treatment planning, and evaluation. The training provided guidelines for making relevant use of evidence-based research findings while keeping in mind the challenges encountered while providing clinical care for Latino children and families.

Pride in Recovery
Elijah Nealy, PhD, MDiv, LCSW
December 5, 2014

  • There are many parallels between the effects of addiction and the effects of oppression. Both can lead to shame and self-hatred, isolation from others, and alienation from society. For addiction recovery to be long-lasting, clients in marginalized groups (i.e. racial/ethnic minorities and those identifying as LGBTQ) must address the consequences of both their addiction and their experiences of oppression. This workshop explored these parallel processes and presented a framework for culturally competent addiction recovery treatment. Using a trauma recovery lens, participants examined essential relapse prevention strategies designed to help clients attain sobriety and move from cultural pain to cultural pride.

Autism, Asperger’s, and the Culture of Neurodiversity
Annette Becklund, MSW, LCSW, NBCCH
November 7, 2014

  • This interactive workshop about Autism, Asperger’s, and “Neurotypicals” was designed to discuss treatment of various mental health and family issues within the context of the Autism and Asperger’s culture. Through interactive exercises, videos, and discussions with individuals on the Spectrum, clinicians gained insightful perspectives which can be utilized in clinical practice and the classroom. This workshop was designed for the participants to learn from each other.

Multicultural Clinical Supervision: Implications for Practice
Elizabeth Conte, LPC, LCADC
June 20, 2014

  • The increase of diversity in the U.S. population requires counselors to possess multicultural competencies in order to meet clients’ needs. However, current counseling and supervision theories inadequately describe multiculturalism as a central force in the delivery of services. Ultimately, however, it is the clinical supervisor’s responsibility to ensure the welfare of all clients by monitoring, teaching, and evaluating supervisees’ performance. By engaging in a multicultural approach to clinical supervision, supervisors challenge counselors’ assumptions that there is only one, universal way to work with clients. This workshop explored processes for supervisors to facilitate supervisees’ multicultural competence through both didactic presentation and experiential learning activities, including self-auditing exercises, developing a multicultural action plan, and role-play.

Ethics and Culture
Patricia Sherman, Ph.D., LCSW
June 6, 2014

  • This workshop focused on how culture impacts ethical decision making.  What happens when the client’s cultural practice challenges the western-based social work code of ethics?  How can practitioners resolve ethical dilemmas that contain an element of culture within them?  This workshop explored ethical decision-making processes through application to case examples provided by the presenter, as well as examples shared by participants.

The Second Annual Culture Counts Conference
May 16, 2014
To view the conference brochure in a PDF format, please click here.

  • Throughout the year, CultureConnections’ approach is to offer a variety of innovative workshop topics representing diverse perspectives to help participants gain the insight, knowledge, and skills necessary to provide culturally competent mental health services. The second annual Culture Counts Conference highlighted the importance of organizational cultural competence as a foundation for achieving and supporting a range of individual cultural competencies. A keynote address by Peter Guarnaccia, Ph.D. along with a choice of one morning and one afternoon workshop offered attendees the opportunity to cultivate and enhance cultural competence skills at a personal, professional, and organizational level.

Addressing Religious Diversity in Mental Health Care: Challenges and Opportunities
Lynn Stoller, MA, The Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding
April 30, 2014

  • Religion and culture influence how consumers view the world around them, which results in a unique relationship between religiosity and the field of mental health. However, according to a national survey only 17% of social workers believe they have the knowledge to effectively address the topic of religion with clients. Through a combination of group discussion, activities and didactic presentation, this workshop explored why religious diversity needs to be addressed in mental health care, when and how it comes up, and how to effectively and respectfully communicate with clients around this sensitive topic.

The Impact of Race in the Clinical Setting
The Center for the Study of White American Culture
March 19, 2014

  • Race impacts the therapeutic alliance in a variety of ways. This workshop explored the sociopolitical and cultural construction of race in the United States as it relates to the process of racialization and the impact this has on clients, clinicians, and the therapeutic process. Through a combination of didactic presentation, experiential exercises and group discussion, this workshop offered participants theory and historical context, as well as practical applications for addressing racial dynamics in the clinical setting, the workplace, and society.

Latino Mental Health Issues: What Can We Learn from the Research?
Peter Guarnaccia, PhD
January 15, 2014

  • This workshop for mental health workers provided insights into working with Latinos based on some of the latest research by Peter Guarnaccia, Ph.D. and his colleagues. The workshop addressed: diversity in the Latino community; cultural issues in Latinos’ experience of depression and its treatment; Latino cultural syndromes and the cultural formulation in DSM-IV/DSM-5;  and social and cultural assessment of Latinos.

Enhancing Perspectives When Working with Deaf Individuals: From Disability to Culture
Michelle Cline, LCSW
December 3, 2013

  • Being Deaf is not just about hearing loss. In order to work effectively with members of the Deaf community, it is important to understand that Deaf individuals have their own unique culture and language. This workshop explored Deafness as a characteristic rather than pathology and the implications of this in clinical assessment and counseling with individuals with hearing loss. Participants learned about Deaf culture and identity, the influence of communication differences in mental health assessment, and biases such as audism (the notion that one is superior based on one’s ability to hear or to behave in the manner of one who hears) that may negatively impact the therapeutic alliance. In addition, participants were given practical knowledge and skills for working with deaf individuals with an interpreter.

The Impact of Race on the Delivery of Mental Health Services: The Culture of Whiteness
The Center for the Study of White American Culture
November 20, 2013

  • Social and cultural factors impact the relationship of the white practitioner with clients, communities and colleagues of color. This workshop presented an opportunity for mental health providers of all racial backgrounds to develop an understanding of the dynamics of these relationships through the exploration of the racialized structure of U.S. society and white racial identity. Racial self-identification, the historical development of white racial identity, and current white cultural approaches to racial difference were addressed. In addition, the impact of white racial identity on cross-racial alliance-building and the effective delivery of clinical services was explored through discussion that incorporated small group work and case vignettes. Participants learned how an awareness of the racialized structure of U.S. society offers an opportunity to build meaningful and authentic relationships, and how a lack of awareness creates distance and distrust.

Working With Transgender Clients:  Providing Respectful & Affirming Services
Eli Green, MA, M.ED
October 25, 2013

  • Transgender people and their loved ones face extensive and severe discrimination, and are particularly vulnerable when accessing community-based services. This training was designed to help providers working with transgender clients and their loved ones ensure that they are providing respectful services that affirm transgender peoples’ experiences. Specifically, this training provided basic information about what it means to be transgender, related terminology, and strategies and skills for individual providers to increase the success of their client work. Additionally, participants identified areas of organizational growth in order to create a safe and respectful environment.

Introduction to Mental Health Interpreting – Interpreter Certificate Training
Sophia Rossovsky, M.Ed
September 26 & 27, 2013

  • Effective communication is essential in mental health counseling. Service providers rely on verbal and non-verbal communication as the primary tools for obtaining a thorough psychiatric and psychosocial history, providing psychotherapy, and forming a therapeutic relationship with the client. Interpreter training is crucial for providing effective interpreting services, as professional interpreters are better able to assist in overcoming language and cultural barriers between the client and the provider. In this training, bi-lingual participants learned skills to help them: increase their organization’s capability to provide appropriate cultural and linguistic services to culturally diverse communities; improve communication between clients and service providers; increase the accuracy of diagnosis, treatment and intervention; lower the risk associated with using untrained interpreters; and improve quality of care and eliminate disparities.

Coming Out: Working with Lesbian and Gay Youth and Their Families
Michael LaSala, PhD, LCSW
June 21, 2013

  •  When children realize they are gay or lesbian, they approach an important milestone. They also face a difficult dilemma in deciding whether, when, and how to come out. This workshop offered clinicians information and skills for working successfully with gay and lesbian youth and their families, as they decide whether or not to come out and go through the coming out process. Dr. Michael LaSala, a Rutgers social work professor, psychotherapist, researcher and author of the book, Coming Out, Coming Home: Helping Families Adjust to a Gay or Lesbian Child (Columbia University Press) drew upon his extensive clinical and research experiences to describe the special challenges these youth face and how best to assist them and their families  The unique needs of African American, Latino and transgender youth and their families were addressed, along with the challenges inherent in working with families from less tolerant religious traditions.

Understanding Cultural Competence in Geriatric Care
Mary Anne Ross, CSW and Dale Ofei-Ayisi, MA, LCSW
June 10, 2013

  • Older adults comprise a growing segment of the population. They are also one of the most diverse groups. This practical and fast paced work shop gave participants the skills they need to work effectively with older adults from different cultures, focusing on practical techniques and approaches. Video, role plays, exercises and discussions were used to reinforce learning. No one is an expert in working with every culture but participants left with a broader understanding of their own culture and the confidence to work with others.

CultureCounts: CultureConnections’ First Annual Conference
May 17, 2013
To view the conference brochure in a PDF format, please click here.

  • In recent years, the mental health system has increasingly recognized the importance of integrating cultural competence into everyday practice in order to provide the best quality of care to all regardless of culture, ethnicity, race, religion, sexual orientation, ability or other status. The CultureCounts Conference provided valuable insights into how culture plays a pivotal role in therapeutic practice with diverse populations, in addition to offering practical applications for incorporating a multicultural approach to mental health treatment. The conference consisted of a keynote address, eight different workshops, and a panel discussion with conference presenters.

Understanding and Working with Arab/Muslim Americans
Raja Salloum, LCSW
April 30, 2013

  • This course explored issues in working with the Arab/Muslim American population in mental health settings. Through a  brief history of the Arab population, as well as an overview of the characteristics of Arab and Muslim societies, participants were given an understanding of acculturation issues, social issues such as domestic violence, and the stigma around mental health. Clinical strategies were introduced and practiced during the course.

Enhancing Racial Awareness When Working with African American Families
Yolanda Hawkins-Rodgers, Ph.D.
April 19, 2013

  • While race is a key organizing principle in therapy, most therapists do not acquire the skills and sensitivities necessary to deal with racial subtleties. It is important that therapists discover ways to improve and enhance their Racial IQ. Developing a better sense of racial issues requires that clinicians’ explore their racial identities and beliefs and challenge the ways in which their roles as clinicians are impacted. The course content was presented with lecture, interactive participation, exercises, group work and viewing film clips in exploring the formulation of perceptions about African American clients. The workshop met the requirements for continuing education in diversity training for mental health professionals.

Working Positively with Culturally Diverse Families on Issues of Physical Abuse and Discipline
Lisa Aronson Fontes, Ph.D.
April 5, 2013

  • This workshop explored the delicate and controversial line between corporal punishment and physical abuse, and how ethnic culture influences our work on these issues. Participants learned practical techniques for helping families from all groups reduce their use of violent parenting with their children. Examples were drawn from African American, Somali, Latino, Asian, religious, and military families.

Immigration and Mental Health
Rachel Reed, MA
March 22, 2013

  • The United States has almost 40 million immigrants – the largest number in its history. Shifts in demographics, along with economic and political crises, make immigration an often divisive social and political issue. While public discourse often frames immigration as a social problem, research supports the strength and resilience of immigrants. Despite their resilience, immigrants face a myriad of challenges that can adversely affect their mental health. These realities underscore the need for competencies that will enable mental health professionals and social service providers to work effectively and respectfully with immigrant clients. This training examined the complex mental health needs of immigrants, with special attention to the integral role of culture in concepts of wellness, symptom presentation, and help-seeking behavior. Set within the context of cultural competence, this training also addressed clinical considerations in working with this population, providing learning opportunities to apply concepts.

The Cultural Dynamic of Gangs
Jack Farrell, LCSW
March 15, 2013

  • Gangs have evolved into their own culture by establishing a historical pattern of beliefs, values, and norms that are transmitted from one generation to the next. This training provided an overview of the relationship between violence and gangs in our communities, including the risk factors for gang involvement and common gang identifiers. It will also provided insight into the importance of community responsibility in addressing gang violence and gang involvement, as well as strategies for engaging family members and community providers in this process.

Grieving Across Cultures
Patricia Sherman, PhD, LCSW
November 14, 2012

  • There are many types of losses: death; divorce; employment; relationships; identity. While we usually think of grief as being related to the aftermath of the death of a person, it can also play an important role in any type of loss. This workshop covered various types of losses, the normal grieving process, and discussed complicated and disenfranchised grief and its effects on the grieving process. Cultural differences in responding to grief were woven in throughout the workshop.

Violence Against Women: The Varied Faces of a Global Epidemic
Rupa Khetarpal, MSW, LCSW
October 26, 2012

  • Violence against women is extensive and prevalent in every country in the world.  Global migration, while blurring geographic boundaries, has resulted in perpetration of the violence in varied forms outside the country of origin. As social service providers working in the U.S. with diverse populations, it is imperative to explore these forms of violence to improve understanding of the dynamics that create and propagate violence against women. This workshop explored various forms of violence including honor killings, acid attacks, forced marriage and female genital mutilation, within the framework of domestic violence, perpetrated by family members–both immediate and extended– as well as the community. The workshop also covered appropriate assessment strategies and explored approaches for prevention and response.

Trauma and Culture: Treating Trauma within a Multicultural Context
Rupa Khetarpal, MSW, LCSW
August 24, 2012

  • The experience of trauma creates long and short term impact on a survivor’s functioning. Trauma often results in physiological, emotional, cognitive, and spiritual depletion affecting a survivors’ capacity to endure, experience life, or fulfill their day to day obligations. This workshop discussed the intersection of trauma and culture and identified culturally appropriate clinical assessment and intervention techniques to help providers better serve trauma survivors.

The Intersection of Culture, Mental Illness, and Ethics
Patricia Sherman, PhD, LCSW
May 30, 2012

  • All of the mental health professions require culturally competent practice as part of their codes of ethics. What does it mean, however, to practice ethically when the current codes have been written from an individualistic, Eurocentric perspective, and many of our clients come from a communal, pluralistic perspective? This workshop discussed ethical theories and methods of resolving ethical dilemmas in culturally competent mental health intervention.

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