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IU School of Social Work: Annual Alumni Conference

March 3, 2023 at 8:45 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. EST

IU School of Social Work Alumni Association 22nd Annual Virtual Alumni Continuing Education Conference

Social Work 2023: Collaboration, Critical thinking, Community Building 2023 

8:15-8:45 a.m.: Registration 

8:45-9:00 a.m.: Welcome IUSSWAA President Melissa Vance-Blackwell and Dean Tamara Davis

9:00-10:30 a.m.: Keynote: Crisis Intervention in Indiana; 2020 and Beyond (includes ethics CEU)
Speaker: Kimble Richardson, M.S., LMHC, LCSW, LMFT, LCAC

Crisis intervention efforts prior to 2020 often were done in person and in relation to one-time incidents (such as a natural disaster or a school shooting). However, the global pandemic, racial injustice, riots, and climate crises have created a need for crisis interventions that can be done both in person and virtually, and that can cover both single-incident incidents and more complex requests (critical incidents that last weeks, months, or even years).

Kimble Richardson, M.S., LMHC, LCSW, LMFT, LCAC will bring 35 years of crisis intervention experience and leadership to this presentation. He will discuss selected interventions and support that were requested of the Indiana District 5 Resilience and Emotional Support Team (REST Team) and several additional peer support teams in the state since 2020. At least one new model of virtual crisis intervention, the Check-in Group, will be presented. Real-life examples of ethical dilemmas faced by team members will be discussed.

10:45 a.m.-12:15 p.m.: Breakout Session One

Therapy and Beyond: Reactive Attachment Disorder
Speaker: LaToya Geter, PhD., HS-BCP

Dr. LaToya Geter, Human Services Professional, will share research to advocate for services beyond therapy to assist adoptive families of adolescents diagnosed with reactive attachment disorder. There is no cure for reactive attachment disorder. As the child grows, more RAD behaviors manifest. Adoptive parents and families are impacted socially by the behaviors. There is a lack of services for children, parents, and families. There is a lack of therapists trained to service youth diagnosed with RAD. The presentation will present how mental health, human services, and social work change agents can collaborate beyond therapy to provide effective services to adoptive parents/families.

Hear Me Out: Cultural Sensitivity While Working with the African American Community
Speakers: Ashlyn Hopkins, LCSW, Nakeia Jones, LSW, Cortney Owens, LCSW, and Kelli Smith, LSW

This presentation is designed to bring awareness to those working in the human services field with the bias, stereotypes and prejudices faced with working with the African American community in and out of the office. Often times a lot of the subtle remarks are not looked at as offensive but are categorized as microaggressions. These microaggressions can hinder the interaction, rapport of a relationship with a colleague, employer, and client. It is important to understand the impact of our words, our actions and our intentions when communicating with others.

Common Legal Issues Encountered in Healthcare
Speaker: Polli Pollem, JD

This session will explore Medical-Legal Partnerships and how these partnerships can impact the health outcomes of patients. It will also address specific legal issues that are commonly encountered in health care, including issue-spotting and legal resolutions available. Topics covered: Medical-Legal Partnerships, Common Legal Issues Encountered in Health Care, Guardianships, Power of Attorney, and less restricted means of supported decision-making, Housing (Landlord/Tenant & Public Housing), Government Benefits, and Re-entry issues: Expungement of Criminal Records, Driving privilege restoration, Bankruptcy.

The Future of Student Support Means Addressing Out-of-School Factors First
Speakers: Margaret Smith, MSW, Jillian Lain, MA, and Akua Miller, MSW

Schools are grappling with more out-of-school factors than ever before. Up to two-thirds of a child’s life is spent outside the classroom, thus academic and quality of life outcomes are increasingly impacted as these factors persist and evolve. In many places, schools lack a system to serve all students and their needs of today and tomorrow. This session will discuss how an integrated student support approach can address these challenges. Participants will explore how integrated student support can improve students’ educational and life outcomes and the role of a social worker in these efforts.

12:30-1:30 p.m.: Working Lunch

The Work-Life Balancing Act: Enhancing the Art of Self-Care through Resilience & Rejuvenation
Speaker: Christine Turo-Shields, ACSW, LCSW, LCAC

Those of us who professionally care for others are very good at what we do – teaching others to overcome adversity, see the bigger picture, adapt to change, make self-care a priority, become more mindful, practice balance, thrive rather than exist . . . but how well do you REALLY do that for yourself?

Resilience, the ability to bounce back or adapt, is often a trait attributed to personality, temperament, or genetics . . . but it can also be developed and fostered. Rejuvenation allows us to invigorate ourselves. Our resilience may aid us in working one-on-one with people or remain "on the front lines," but it is the practice of rejuvenation that refreshes us most. Daily investment in yourself enhances your ability to tend to others’ needs over the long-term. Amazingly, it takes very little time, as the small, simple and intentional changes you make will have lasting results.

Join us for a lively discussion of how to further develop your personal and professional Resiliency and how to identify areas to enhance your practice of Rejuvenation.

1:45-3:15 p.m. Breakout Session Two

Integrated Addiction Model
Speaker: Melissa Caldwell Engle, MS, LPC, ATR

The Integrated Addiction model focuses on the “function” of addiction as opposed to the “behavior” of addiction. The similarities and differences between these two models will be discussed as well as the treatment implications on the co-morbid client who struggles with addictions: both chemical and process. This workshop will also identify the underlying dissociative element inherent in all chronic addictive, mental health, and self-defeating patterns that, over time, can itself, take on an addictive quality in an effort to regulate emotional pain.

Lastly, the "Spectrum of Emotions" will be reviewed. This diagram will illustrate the differences between healthy and unhealthy emotions and their corresponding psychiatric and medical diagnoses. The Spectrum of Emotions is also useful for teaching clients about feelings and guiding therapy objectives as well as helping clients learn how to self-regulate and manage their feelings from an integrated place.

The PLAY Project: Breaking Barriers in Early Autism Spectrum Disorder Speakers: Terri Gee, MSW, CPPC, and Amanda Gibson, MA, LMHC, CPPC

As a caregiver tries to manage life with a child diagnosed with Autism, it may seem overwhelming. With the increase in Autism diagnoses (1 in 54 children), doctors have been exploring the advancement of treatment and therapies to enhance the relationship between the caregivers and the child. The PLAY Project (PP), an Early Autism Intervention method, is one of those ground-breaking therapies. Beginning early, 18 months to 6 years of age, this therapy brings the social worker, caregiver, and child together with an individualized plan based on where the child is at developmentally. Research shows this therapy helps the child and caregiver interact with each other and society (school, community, recreational activities, etc.), providing resources to families in crisis. The PP is an evidence/outcome-based program with the goal to improve the child’s development and social interactions, while teaching parents through direct practice and video feedback. This therapy has become internationally recognized as a model of coaching, principles, modeling techniques, and activities to help the caregiver and child grow together in their journey. The PP provides opportunities to nurture growth and transformation through social interaction for children with developmental disorders. Social workers can help families who have a child with Autism and other comorbid diagnoses while learning how to decrease the stress they are experiencing by raising a child on the spectrum through PLAY. Social workers can help shape policies and increase availability of services through advocacy at different levels and diverse cultures for early Autism Intervention services.

The Intersection of Law and Social Work
Speaker: Katherine Meger Kelsey, JD

Law and social work intersect frequently, but in no place so often as in family and juvenile law. This session will discuss the basics of various parts of family and juvenile law, and how social work plays a role in understanding what certain legal concepts mean, or how laws will affect the outcomes of a case. There will be an opportunity for interaction and examination of how each profession can assist the other in better addressing a child's situation.

Overview of Psychopharmacology
Speaker: Maria P. Blaze, PharmD

Psychopharmacology is a branch of medicine that studies how drugs are used to treat mental illnesses. The complexity of this topic requires ongoing research in order to stay up to date with new developments. This presentation will focus on the basic understanding of psychotropic medications, including side effects and when to refer clients for a medication evaluation, among other topics.

Attendees will understand how to recognize key neurotransmitters and receptors for psychotropic medications, review disease states that psychotropic medications treat, differentiate between medications used to treat psychiatric disorders, identify common side effects of psychotropics, and discuss new psychotropic medications.

3:30-5:00 p.m. Breakout Session Three

Bipolar Disorder: Blessing or Curse
Speaker: Thaddeus Bay, LCSW

Bipolar disorder is a pervasive mental illness that plagues many people around the world. The stigma surrounding this disorder makes it quite difficult for those diagnosed to feel comfortable being themselves around others. One of the hardest parts of living with bipolar disorder can be disclosing their diagnosis to others. Even mental health clinicians with the purest of intentions, sometimes take actions that perpetuate the stigma surrounding bipolar disorder. In this presentation, participants will learn about the impact stigma can have on those diagnosed with bipolar disorder, the ways in which clinicians can inadvertently perpetuate stigma, as well as the ways in which those diagnosed with bipolar disorder, can use their diagnosis to help others in similar situations.

Amplifying Spirituality in Clinical Social Work Assessments
Speakers: Tayon Swafford, ThM, Ph.D. Candidate, Pious Malliar- Bellian, MSW, Ph.D. Candidate

This workshop will show participants how to incorporate a Spiritual Lifemap into their clinical practice that can help them learn more about a client’s journey with religion and spirituality. Participants will learn what questions to ask to assess to what extent spirituality should be included in a client’s plan of care. To do so, participants will be introduced to the Brief Spiritual Assessment and Comprehensive Spiritual Assessment tools. Participants will be shown how Hodges’ (2005) decision tree can guide participants in choosing the most suitable spiritual intervention. This workshop will also help participants consider their readiness, willingness, and ability to incorporate spirituality into their clients’ service provision. By doing so, participants will be equipped to more effectively assess, learn about, and respond to their clients’ needs.

Preparing Social Workers for Futures Thinking in Social Work Practice Speakers: Christian Deck, MSW, LCSW, CTMH and Samantha Wolfe-Taylor, Ph.D. Candidate, MSW, LCSW, CTH

Futures thinking is a creative and exploratory process that uses divergent thinking (Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet of New Zealand, 2021) and is a relatively new concept in social work. Futures thinking is a creative and exploratory process, seeking many possible answers and acknowledging uncertainty (Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet of New Zealand, 2021). Futures thinking does not attempt to predict the future, nor does it purport that there is only one correct future or that the future is pre-determined (Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet of New Zealand, 2021). A resistance to change has been historically present in our field; however, social workers are called to create major societal changes through social justice work. This presentation provide participants with ways social work practitioners can apply futures thinking to create positive societal changes in a tech-driven world. The limitations and implications of futures thinking in social work practice will be presented.

Pivoting to Private Practice: Gain the Confidence Needed to Start a Private Practice
Speakers: Melissa Sichting, LCSW, LCAC, and Cindy McAtee, LCSW, LCAC

The pivot to private practice will cover the logistics, mindset, and marketing that is needed to own and operate a private practice. The speakers will discuss the basic building blocks to getting started in private practice and how to run a successful practice with no prior business experience. Participants will learn the indicators of success as a private practice owner and understand the logistical steps needed to open a business, locating space, forming a business, banking, insurance, accounting, and paperwork. Attendees will also understand why finding your niche is crucial to your business and ways to market your practice and keep your schedule full.

We encourage participation by all individuals. If you have a disability, advance notification of any special needs will help us better serve you.

Continuing Education Credits
Continuing education credits will be issued by Indiana University School of Social Work.

The conference is worth 7 CEU Hours pending approval.

Please contact Karen Jones at or 317-274-8959