Friday, May 19, 2017 from 8:30 AM to 3:00 PM EDT
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Best Western Royal Plaza Hotel and Banquet Space 
181 Boston Post Road West
Marlborough, MA 01752

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PPAL Staff 
Parent/Professional Advocacy League 


Join us for PPAL's 7th Annual Conference and Celebration!

Engaging speakers, informative workshops and great networking opportunities are all part of a day you just can't miss!

We are very pleased to announce we have been approved to offer three (3) CEU hours for LICSWs and six (6) CEU hours for LMHCs!

Register Now! 

Scholarships are available on a sliding scale fee (email conference@ppal.net). 
To download registration, exhibit, sponsor levels and pledge forms, please visit here.

Title Sponsor

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Linea Johnson is a national mental health advocate, speaker, writer and the co-author of Perfect Chaos: A Daughter’s Journey with Bipolar, A Mother’s Struggle to Save Her (St. Martin’s Press, 2012).  Her advocacy work connects her with national mental health organizations including NAMI, DBSA, One Mind for Research and the Kennedy Forum. Her international experience includes working as an intern at the World Health Organization in the Mental Health policy department in Geneva, Switzerland and with a mental health team in rural Kerala, India. In addition to her writing and speaking engagements she is the assistant producer on the world mental health documentary Hidden Pictures. She currently works as a research coordinator at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. She recently completed her graduate degree at Brown University in the Executive Masters in Health Care Leadership program.

Cinda Johnson, Ed.D., is a professor and the director of the graduate special education program at Seattle University. Dr. Johnson is the principal investigator for the Center for Change in Transition Services. She is a national leader in the area of transition from high school to post-high for young people with disabilities. She has a particular interest and passion for supporting children, adolescents and young people with mental health conditions to assure that they are provided the best opportunity to be successful after leaving high school. Her publications include Positive behavior support and transition outcomes for students in secondary settings, Transition of secondary students with emotional or behavioral disorders: Current approaches for positive outcomes (2nd ed). Champaign, IL: Research Press. She is the co-author of Perfect Chaos: A Daughter’s Journey with Bipolar, A Mother’s Struggle to Save Her (St. Martin’s Press, 2012) written with her daughter Linea Johnson.  


(for Parents/Caregivers and Professionals) 

Workshop 1
Eye of the Storm: Reconceptualizing Trauma in Individuals with Eating Disorders

Presenter: Rachel Benson-Monroe, LMHC 

Description: So often the lives of people with eating disorders are also permeated by PTSD. How do trauma and eating disorder symptoms intersect? How do we treat both simultaneously? This presentation offers hands-on strategies to holistically guide people with trauma and eating disorders to recovery.

Workshop 2
Demystifying the Neuropsychological Evaluation 
Presenter: Dr. Kevin Domingos

Description: Why and when is the neuropsychological evaluation important and how can it clarify a child’s learning and emotional profile. The components of an evaluation and understanding the results will also be covered. Finally, very specific suggestions will be given as to what to look for in seeking one. 

Workshop 3
Talking with Youth about Marijuana
Presenter: Jordana Willers, EdM

Description: This training provides an overview of the latest data and current trends of marijuana use among youth, research on marijuana and the teenage brain, perceived benefits, short-term vs. long-term effects of use, cannabis use disorder (facts about marijuana and addiction), and ways to engage youth to promote open, positive communication in order to reduce substance misuse. Information about how to access treatment and recovery resources for youth and young adults will be provided as well.

Workshop 4
Why Does My Child Behave Like That? Practical Strategies for Raising Your Child on the Autism Spectrum 
Presenter: Brenda Dater, MPH, MSW

Description: Please join Brenda Dater, author of Parenting without Panic and Associate Director at the Asperger/Autism Network for a session to help you understand your child's needs and what you can do to help. There's no shortage of parenting advice; but advice for typical kids doesn't always translate to children with Asperger's or similar behavioral profiles. Learn why your child's challenges exist and the variety of ways you can support your child's growth and development. Also walk away with a better understanding of your own triggers and how to become a more resilient parent and family.

Workshop 5

Spirituality, Religion and Mental Health
Presenters: David H. Rosmarin, PhD

Description: Even in this increasingly secular age more than eight in ten people world- wide identify with a religious group, and nearly three-quarters of Americans profess “certain” belief in God or a higher power. Furthermore, consistent research highlights that spirituality/religion can have both positive and negative effects on mental health, and that it is very common for individuals to turn to spirituality in coping with distress. However, the mental health disciplines in general and psychiatry in particular have had a tenuous history with this subject, and many practitioners shy away from addressing spiritual/religious issues with their patients. This talk will address the subject of spirituality/religion as it pertains to the treatment of mental disorders. In addition, a panel will share their experiences with spirituality, religion and mental health.

Workshop 6 (presented in Spanish)
Derechos Básicos: Los Padres y el Proceso de Educación Especial
Presenter:Diana Santiago, Esq

Description: Los padres de niños y jóvenes con necesidades especiales (o discapacidades) pueden tener dificultades para conseguir la ayuda que sus hijos necesitan. Para familias con diferencias de cultura e idioma, puede ser aún más difícil tener acceso a estos servicios. Las leyes de educación especial protegen los derechos de niños y jóvenes con necesidades especiales. Proyecto Acceso a la Educación Especial ayuda a padres Latinos a entender esas leyes y sus derechos. El conocer sus derechos le puede ayudar en la abogacía de su hijo/a.

(for Parents/Caregivers and Professionals)  

Workshop 7
"You can't make me go!": Assessment and Treatment of School Avoidance in Children and Adolescents
Presenters: Nathan Doty, PhD and Brian Willoughby, PhD

Description: School avoidance can be triggered by a number of disability- related challenges, such as anxiety, depression and mood disorders, or traumatic life events. School avoidance can also be related to needs that can be met through special education and related services. Often the causes of school avoidance are difficult to identify and treat. Drs. Doty and Willoughby will shed light on these challenging issues. They will discuss common clinical issues that lead to school avoidance, how to identify these issues and how to help access the help that is needed. The presentation will be followed by a Q&A session and discussion. .

Workshop 8
Your Body, Mind, and Emotion: The Role of Mindfulness in Parenting

Presenter: Natan Cohen and guest

Description: The Hearing Voices Network offers a non-pathologizing, open way of understanding and supporting people through the experiences of hearing voices and holding unusual beliefs. It assumes that hearing voices (as well as seeing visions and other sensory experiences) can be a normal part of human experience with a variety of meanings for people. Join us to learn more about how the Hearing Voices approach can reorient how we relate to these experiences.

Workshop 9 
Trauma, Children and Strategies to Help Them
Presenter: Stephanie Monaghan-Blout, PsyD

Description: The diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, was developed to describe the reactions of soldiers returning from war, but the formulation does not adequately represent the experiences of people who had been exposed to dangerous situations over long periods of time, and it was particularly poor at describing the presentation of children whose brains are still growing. In this workshop, we will discuss the presentation of these children, explore how their challenges affect their ability to function in school and at home, and share some recommendations for how teachers and parents can help.

Workshop 10
Promoting Social Change through Social Media

Presenters: Kelley Chunn and Christina Maryland

Description: Kelley Chunn and Christina Maryland This interactive workshop provides guidance and best practices to better understand creating meaningful change and influence through strategic use of social media. We will outline different types of popular social media: Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and community forums, such as Reddit. By providing case studies of best practices or lessons learned, we will educate attendees about the power of social media influence and how these tools can be effectively used to advocate issues of concern and promote the best image of themselves and families. We also will discuss the implications of using social media to share too much information or engage in cyber wars.

Workshop 11 (presented in Spanish)
"Terapia cognitiva basada en la atención plena (MBCT)"

Presenter: Thomas Serrano

Description: Grupo para prevenir la depresión y reducir el estrés El MBCT es un grupo psicoeducativo donde se enseñan las habilidades de atención plena. Estas habilidades pueden reducir las constantes preocupaciones y el efecto de los pensamientos poco saludables que crean ansiedad y depresión. El principal objetivo de MBCT es prevenir la recaída en la depresión, la ansiedad y el estrés. Los estudios psicológicos demuestran que la mayoría de los participantes del grupo MBCT reducen la recurrencia y la intensidad de los síntomas de depresión y ansiedad (tenga en cuenta que para lograr los beneficios deseados debe participar en 8 sesiones y practicar los ejercicios dados en casa). Los participantes tendrán dos sesiones de seguimiento, un mes y tres meses después de la finalización del grupo.

(for ages 13-25)  

Workshop 1 - Morning Workshop
Art and Expression!
Presenters: David Sebastian, Mentoring Artist for Green House Graphics

Description: Join the conversation and hands on activity with an artist that understands and teaches art expression. Dave has worked with youth, young adults to learn art and express their best talents. Attend for a hands on experience with art! .

Workshop 2 - Morning Workshop
Help a Friend that May Be in a Tough Place! Use QPR

Presenter: Michael Valila

Description: Learn how to support your friend in having a conversation and learning about QPR. QPR stands for Question, Persuade, and Refer — the 3 simple steps anyone can learn to help save a life from suicide.

Workshop 3 - Morning Workshop 
Real for Real Students: Making College Accommodations Work for You
Presenters: Tania Duperoy and Emma PiciD’Ottavio

Description: “Real Support for Real Students” is an interactive workshop that explores college students’ rights to academic accommodations and the different possibilities that legally exist outside of the usual recommendations by college accessibility offices. Workshop attendees will talk to presenters from the Transitions Research and Training Center (RTC) at the University of Massachusetts’ (UMass) Medical School about the college experience and the journey to seek support via academic accommodations to have a greater chance at academic success. Attendees will also hear stories from young adults who have “been there and done that.”

Workshop 4 - Afternoon Workshop
Are You Registered to Vote?

Presenter: TBD

Description: Meet a member of legislature who has run for office and won! Have the opportunity to get to know them and ask questions on what you wonder about. Ask questions and walk away with a “register to vote” card to turn in. An amazing opportunity to meet who we vote for.

Workshop 5 - Afternoon Workshop
Famous Tess Visits You All!

Presenters: Susan Gardner RN, BSN and Tess the Lab

Description: Tess, the 6 year old yellow lab therapy dog is a dream come true, really! She has become my best tool yet in my daily efforts to effect change in the teens she and I work with . Tess is a sought out sensory tool. Her ears are soft like a rabbit, her nose moist and cool; her tongue ready to do some licking and her body weight like that of a heavy blanket right out of the dryer! She is calm, sweet and always available for hugs, leaning on or into, patting, listening, playing, or lying with. She is an effective alarm clock for many who have difficulties getting out of bed for school. And on the evening shift...she can settle the most frightened teen into a calmer state or relaxation as they try to sleep just by lying next to them. She is a motivator for many who are reluctant to attend their own treatment team meetings, as the teen "takes charge of her" and will walk her to the meeting and then makes sure she is "comfortable" during the meeting Who doesn’t feel more settled after playing with a sweet dog? Join the playtime.

Workshop 6 - Afternoon Workshop (repeated from morning)
Art and Expression!
Presenters: David Sebastian, Mentoring Artist for Green House Graphics

Description: Join the conversation and hands on activity with an artist that understands and teaches art expression. Dave has worked with youth, young adults to learn art and express their best talents. Attend for a hands on experience with art! .