Through Her Eyes – Workshop Descriptions

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A.M. Workshops (A- I)

A. Combating Sexual Exploitation in Young Women

 Keynote Speaker: Brenda Myers-Powell, Dreamcatcher Foundation


This workshop will discuss the trilateral approach used by the Dreamcatcher Foundation in assisting girls and young women who have been sexually exploited. This workshop will discuss the prevention, intervention and outreach techniques when working with the population.

B. Promoting ‘Hardiness’ in Adolescent Girls at Risk: Resilience in Small Groups

Dr. James Canning, LICSW, Springfield College School of Social Work and Ashley Santos, Group Leader, MSW Intern


This workshop provides a strengths-based approach to early adolescent girl’s development and demonstrates how community-based, non-clinical, adult-guided peer groups provide critical sources of resilience, which we name, “developmental zones.” Such spaces support self-expression and creativity and buffer the toxic effects of accumulated stress.  This workshop includes a review of current feminist developmental literature on adolescence, followed by examples of girls’ groups, presented by their leaders. A discussion will follow.

C. Girls on the Spectrum: How Autism Spectrum Disorder Manifests in Girls and Women

 Jennifer Bogin, M.S.ed, BCBA, Private Practice


One in 68 children in the U.S. is affected by autism— But new research suggests the disorder often looks different in females, many of whom are being misdiagnosed and missing out on the support they need.  Girls with autism may be harder to diagnose for several reasons, including criteria developed around males.  This presentation will discuss the ways girls with ASD can be successfully treated.           

D. Defining Moments

Latoya Bosworth, Keep Youth Dreaming and Striving Inc.


Life happens, but we get to decide how we respond. In  this workshop participants are able to identify defining moments in their life and how they will take back control by choosing how they will use  those experiences to positively shape and impact their lives. It’s all about re- framing and refocusing  Features call and response poetry and reflective writing

E. PANEL: Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC): Addressing the Needs of Victims: A Collaborative & Coordinated Response

Dr. Jessica Wozniak, Baystate Medical Center’s Family Advocacy Center; Ian Smythe, FBI Special Agent; Laurie Sullivan, DCF; Melissa O’Neill, Springfield Public Schools


The needs of CSEC victims require a coordinated, multidisciplinary response upon identification. A panel of professionals from the Hampden County Coalition to Identify and Prevent the Sexual Exploitation of Children will review a CSEC case and discuss how a multidisciplinary team of legal, child protection, school, medical, and mental health experts works to insure the best outcome for Commercial Sexual Exploited Children.

F. Suicide Risk: From Despair to Hope

Nina Slovik, LICSW, CHD


This workshop will focus on suicide risk and prevention, especially as it pertains to young women. While the subject of suicide is difficult to talk about, it is essential to know as much as we can about this public health issue, so that support can be offered, and risk minimized. This training will help participants develop a language for discussing this complicated and universal problem.

G. Ethics and Applied Treatment

Dona Mercadante, Ed.D., Retired – Bay Path University & Gray Lodge School


Workshop explores ethics and ethical behaviors in working with delinquent or difficult populations. Who we are as people defines who we are as professionals and thus how we define treatment. We will look at case studies and discuss possible treatment issues and goals. As providers we need to know how our personality and beliefs can affect the goals for our clients.

H. Addiction, Trauma and the Developing Brain: Girls at Risk

Deborah Merriman, Cambridge College – Springfield Regional Center


The workshop will focus on the current clinical definition of addiction and address addiction as a brain disease. Participants will be provided with an introduction to developmental trauma as it relates to substance use disorders and why young women are at high risk. A brief overview of treatment options will be discussed.

I. The Healing Power of Creative Writing

Olga Pedraza, Sonia Mendez, Christina Ruest, Colleen Fitzgerald, and Gretchen Krull, Voices From Inside


Through reading their own work and discussion, women from the Voices From Inside program will share the healing power of creative writing in their lives.   The workshop will explore the writing method utilized and its impact on women who have experienced the trauma of sexual exploitation, addiction, and incarceration. Research on the value of creative writing, trauma, self-efficacy, and issues relevant to women and risk of incarceration will be presented.


P.M. Workshops (J-Q)

J. Utilizing Trauma Informed Skills in Support Groups

Annette Cycon, MotherWoman; Jenise Katalina, CHD


MotherWoman has been utilizing a trauma informed group support model to empower mothers. This presentation will educate and empower women to utilize trauma informed practice in group work. Attendants will explore how trauma informed group practice of support and empowerment can support mothers through their healing from trauma.

K. Girls Raised and Blessed (GRAB) presents “Whose Footprints Did You Think Were in the Sand?”

Janine Spinola Taylor, Springfield College School of Professional and Continuing Studies with High-Risk Youth Network; Myra Kinds, High Risk Youth Network (HYRN)


Building upon their 2014 workshop: Stages of Human Development and Emotional Well-Being, GRAB presents “What’s in a Name?”  Janine Spinola Taylor continues the discussion of Theory of Human Development; yet one’s name is integrated.  Myra Kinds takes the conversation further by addressing girls who are on track of being or are ‘high-risk.’  This workshop will include young girls.

L. Brains at Risk

Lunchtime Presenter: Jeanine K. Fitzgerald, The Fitzgerald Institute of Lifelong Learning


The brain is not the largest organ in the body, but it is the source of all emotion, thought and behavior.  This session answers critical questions with particular emphasis on what it takes to enrich a brain to its full potential after being compromised by genetics or early life experiences.

M. Dream Big & Bigger: How to Get Happier by Setting and Achieving Goals

Julia Mines, Self-employed


Sun, air, clean water, healthy food, nurturing relationships. These are all good for us. But so is having goals and working toward achieving them. In this experiential workshop, we’ll explore the foundation of why goals matter to our lives, including how they build optimism and resilience.

N. The ABC’s of IEPs and 504s

Martha von Mering & Melissa O’Neill, Springfield Public Schools

***Please note – no CEU’s can be offered for this workshop

Participants will learn the differences between an IEP and 504 plan. Specifically, participants will learn how a student becomes eligible for either one beginning from the referral process, parental consent, legal timelines, evaluation, eligibility Team Meeting, and proposal of initial plan or finding of no eligibility.

O. The Mind-Body Empowerment Method – Practical Tools for Healing Trauma and Creating A Resilient Self

Bonni-Lynne Sandler, HeartnSoul Yoga & Wellness / CHD / Springfield Day Schools


This workshop is designed to provide practitioners with an understanding of the mind/body connection, and its integral role in healing trauma. Modalities can be integrated into everyday life to create a sustainable platform for a healthy mind/body. These practical tools empower teens by cultivating self-love, kindness & compassion, with gratitude.

P. Common Concerns and Challenges While Providing Treatment for Youth Who Have Been Exploited

Dr. Jessica Wozniak, Baystate Medical Center’s Family Advocacy Center


This workshop is designed for professionals who work with exploited victims in a clinical setting. It will focus on common concerns and challenges that may arise when providing treatment for youth who have been exploited. Techniques to build engagement and trust with this population will be reviewed.

Q. New this year! Paint Craze (Mocktails)Limited space!

***Please note – no CEU’s can be offered for this workshop (but it’ll be fun!)


Throughout the year, we are presented with a wide range of emotionally strenuous situations. Recharge your inner battery though a Paint & Sip workshop to finish out the conference and the work week.


Ready to Register?


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