2023 Workshops

Workshop Descriptions & Highlights

See below for detailed workshop descriptions.
Participants will receive a certificate for each workshop attended.


Session A


A-1 Social Determinants of Health (SDoH): Learning How to Connect the Dots

Marcie Cole, PhD, CPRP, Horizon House

This interactive workshop focuses on key principles, values, and concepts of SDoH and how they can influence an individual’s health equity in both positive and negative ways.  Leave this session better equipped to support individuals by identifying and overcoming SDoH that affect those diagnosed with a serious mental illness.


A-2 Back to the Old School: Gender Schemas and Men-Part I

Chris Owens, MA, LPC, Drexel University BHE

In this interactive workshop, the presenter examines some of the messages that boys learn about gender roles which can lead to difficulties in adulthood. Examples of classic hip hop music will be presented as a strong influence in our society. Attendees will leave with tips and ideas for engaging men in a treatment setting.  *Please note that this is a two- session workshop.


A-3 Empathy and Equity in LGBTQ+ Community

Matthew Anticoli, Mental Health Partnerships

Participants can expect to learn what sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression are and be able to determine the differences between each.  Explore a number of ideas on how to be affirming toward LBGTQ+ people, and how to support them through challenging discussions and scenarios.

A-4 Seeing Special Needs Children with Different Eyes

Shawn Sanderson, M. Ed, Chiana Sanderson, PhD, The Sanderson Special

We are trained professionals and know how to navigate the healthcare system and thought we knew how to behaviorally manage even the most challenging child. And then we welcomed our son into our lives. Doctors shared that our 10-day old son would never walk or talk. We were advised to put him in an institution and move on with our lives. WE SAID NO. While our story has a positive outcome, it was not an easy journey, seeking and searching for effective therapies to help him live an extraordinary life. Our hope is that this inspirational workshop will fill DSP’s with empathy and a better understanding of how to assist families struggling with a special needs child.

A-5 Evidence-Based Practices for Children with Autism and other Developmental Disabilities: Putting the Pieces of the Puzzle Together

Jennifer Musolff, Ed.D, BCBA, Barber National Institute

This presentation will explore the use of evidence-based practices when working with children who have autism or other developmental disabilities. Participants will learn how to implement interventions and instructional strategies across environments, starting with the need for effective assessment and selection of which skills to address first.

A-6 Introduction to Harm Reduction

Andrew Spiers, MSS, LSW, Pathways to Housing PA, Renee Frink-Boyd, Pathways to Housing PA

This introduction to harm reduction practice, as it applies to individuals engaged in all types of high-risk behaviors, will explore relationships between risk and trauma, the inherent dangers of shame and isolation, and the impact of stigma on vulnerable populations. Attendees will be assisted in understanding their own experiences of harm reduction in daily life, and the importance of promoting safety and bodily autonomy as harm reduction’s primary goal. Attendees will leave with a greater understanding of key harm reduction principles as practical solutions.

A-7 Trauma-Informed De-Escalation in the Community

Lydia Cooper, Mental Health Partnerships

Participants will learn how escalation happens in a variety of settings. Strategies for maintaining safety, methods of verbally defusing tension, and the role of self-awareness in de-escalating tension will also be discussed.

A-8 Optimize Your Career: Personal Branding and Strategic Networking

Abigail Pol, LSW, Intercommunity Action, Melissa Kellett, Intercommunity Action

Navigating the career lifecycle can be challenging for professionals in all stages of their careers. In this workshop, we will explore how to craft an authentic personal brand and utilize strategic net working to enhance your career. We will also discuss the role and function of mentorship and provide practical tools and resources for continued education, learning, and self-development.

Session B


B-1 The Art of Asking Better Questions; How the Right Questions Lead to More Efficient and Effective Outcomes

Alonzo Kelly, Executive Coach, Professor, Author, Keynote Speaker

This full participatory presentation is designed to assist in creating an inter-culturally inclusive work environment for all.  This learning journey will focus on the Professional Development of participants aimed at increasing knowledge and ability to utilize critical thinking skills to make authentic inquiry, apply appropriate meaning to terms and phrases, problem solve, communicate confidently, and foster more collaborative work environments rooted in authentic relationships.

B-2 Back to the Old School: Gender Schemas and Men-Part II

Chris Owens, MA, LPC, Drexel University BHE

Join us for part two* of this this interactive workshop where the presenter examines some of the messages that boys learn about gender roles which lead to difficulties as adults.  Examples of classic hip hop music will be presented as a strong influence in our society. Attendees will leave with tips and ideas for engaging men in a treatment setting.  *Please note that this is a two-session workshop.

B-3 Traumatic Exposure and Addiction:  Why Do They Co-Occur

Craig Strickland, PhD., Horizon House

A simple explanation for why trauma and addiction co-occur is this: self-medication. However, the processes and the neurobiology behind these clinical conditions overlap and may point to a more core explanation for co-occurrence. This workshop looks at what systems and structures in the nervous system, the brain in particular, are involved in both the symptoms of traumatic exposure and addiction.

B-4 Healthy Relationships and Safe Sexual Expression

Laura Silsby, Chelsea Titlow, SPIN

People with disability have the same sexual desires and needs as those without disability, yet sexual health and expression is often ignored, redirected, or considered taboo. It is the responsibility of all service providers to support people to understand their rights to sexuality, including understanding their bodies, personal hygiene, consent, and establishing and maintaining safe relationships. Come learn how an organization focused on open communication and overcoming uncomfortable conversations fully committed to supporting all people’s rights to sexual expression_   Presenters will give insight into the assessment and planning process, how to gain organizational buy-in, and how to address barriers. Let’s work together to ensure sexual health for ALL!

B-5 Twisted Sister – Mama Mia Here We Go Again

Karan Steele, Carelon Health of PA, Dianna Brocious, PA Care Partnership, Crystal Karenchak, PA Care Partnership

Storytelling friends who have hilarious personal experiences about the journey their children took them growing up “with a diagnosis”. These three friends will walk you through the highs and lows as their children grew into adults. These are friends who learned long ago that if you do not laugh at your situation, you may not make it through the next situation! Come, sit, close your eyes, listen, and laugh, as they take you down the humor rabbit hole.

B-6 WRAP:  Wellness Recovery Action Plan

Lesley Corey, EdD, Step By Step, Inc., Dennis Hordton, Lee Horton, Step by Step

This presentation will describe the benefits of WRAP, including how it helps individuals to identify simple and safe wellness tools. Learn how to create action plans for everyday life to maintain wellness. Also, WRAP can be used as a preventive strategy to stay well and a proactive way to address obstacles that arise.

B-7 Applying the Prevention Framework to Youth Suicide

Andrea Boffice, MA, Mental Health Partnerships: Institute for Recovery

Explore community-based prevention strategies for addressing young adult suicide. Gain insight into prevention, intervention, and post-intervention actions, and learn best practices for boosting youth protective factors.

B-8 Bridging the Gap Between Consumers and Providers

Janet Berkowitz, Creative Crisis Care, Nertiti Rosa, Mike Shoeman, Lynne Blecher-Vicari, AS/CPRP

Join this interactive session where consumers, peer providers, and DSP’s have the opportunity to build safer and stronger partnerships and appreciation for one another while exploring what works and doesn’t work in Recovery. Practicing deep empathetic listening through creative brainstorming, role plays and props helps to rebalance the dynamic between individuals. Ler’s have fun while exploring the depths.

Session C


C-1 Mind Your Senses

Gina Manson, MA, CMT, Karen Crawford, M.Ed.

When we work so hard to take care of others, we often forget to take care of ourselves.  Take some time out in this session to practice Tai Chi, meditation and mindful breathing, and an introduction to aromatherapy, body sticks, weighted blankets, and more.


C-2 The Art of Healing:  Art Therapy to Prevent and Address Secondary Trauma

Susan Krisch, MA, ATR-BC, LPC, CPRP, Counseling in Art Therapy, Wedge Medical Centers

Art Therapy uses creative expression to access and express our inner conflicts or life challenges.  Art therapy is also used to prevent burnout and combat secondary trauma.  The presenter offers simple art processing techniques for use by the Direct Support Professional.

C-3 Level Up Your Career with a Certificate or College Degree

Suzanne Felix, Community College of Philadelphia, Jerry Howard, Horizon House, Inc.

Did you ever have the desire to enroll in college? Did you start college years ago and never finish? Is college too expensive? Would you like to take online courses? Discover education programs that support Direct Support Professionals. Discuss methods to achieve your educational goals, as well as become familiar with various payment options.   Meet other DSP’s who have earned a college degree or who are currently enrolled in a college program.

C-4 Panel Discussion with Direct Service Professionals

Michael Donovan, Associate Director, The Alliance of Community Service Providers, DSP Representatives

Alliance member agencies serve a wide range of different populations with varying needs, including children and adults with behavioral health challenges, addiction to drugs and/or alcohol, and intellectual disability and/or autism.  All of these services require a qualified, dedicated workforce, responsible for implementing individualized plans in the most compassionate manner.  Due to low pay rates and a workload that is often not realistic, there is a significant shortage of these highly skilled professionals.

Join us as The Alliance’s Associate Director, Michael Donovan- a former DSP himself- facilitates a panel of DSPs to discuss what keeps them going and why the work is important enough for them to stay despite the many challenges.

C-5 Technology Is Your Friend – Work Smarter, Not Harder

Gregg Kelinson, Kelli Smith, KenCrest Services

The presenters will highlight examples of a current smart home and remote support technologies in use at KenCrest. This new technology provides increased independence for individuals and time savers for DSP’s.

C-6 Building Teamwork through Communication

Jennifer L. Kennedy, M.Jur., Barber National Institute 

Communication – how we speak to others and how we perceive others to speak to us- is the cornerstone of all we do.  Effective communication reinforces our values, creates clear instructions and objectives, and provides others with the information they need to be successful. Ineffective communication leads to frustration, misunderstandings, and lack of progress towards our goals. This presentation will dive into the psychology of communication, tools that can be used to increase effective communication, and explore the benefits (across all areas) of creating teamwork through communication.

C-7 Proactive Planning to Enhance Community-Based Services

Andrea Consigny and Paula Urmson, SPIN

Join us for this presentation to learn about proven strategies to take community participation and employment services to the next level.  Fill your toolbox with new ways to consistently plan meaningful activities and find right-fit employment opportunities for those who are interested.

C-8 Promoting Work Cohesiveness Among Members of the Treatment Teams Using Instructional Supports, Michael May, Karen Marshal, Merakey

This training will provide attendees with an overview of Behavior Skills Training, and the examples of its use during an opening of an adult day program for individuals with intellectual disabilities. The attendees will have an opportunity to develop skills to implement these instructional interventions. 

Register for Workshops as an Individual or for a Group