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VISN 5 MIRECC - Clinical/Educational Seminars


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Clinical/Educational Seminars

Looking for educational content to enrich your staff at your clinical program?

Have you identified an unmet clinical need that you and your colleagues could use some training on?

Investigators at the VISN 5 MIRECC are here to help! We have experience in a range of topics related to mental health recovery.

Schedule your seminar now!

Seminar length is typically one hour, but can be made to fit your clinic needs and schedule.

Not in VISN 5? No problem -- our investigators can make presentations remotely to VA clinics and programs anywhere in the country!

Contact: Amy Drapalski (

Seminar Topics

Look below for topic areas of the seminars offered!

Ending Mental Health Stigma

Ending Self Stigma
Amy Drapalski and Alicia Lucksted
Overview of the Ending Self-Stigma intervention, a group-based intervention for adults with mental illness aimed at internalized stigma reduction.
EASING-ing Self Stigma
Amy Drapalski and Alicia Lucksted
Workshop to help providers learn self-stigma reduction tools that can be used in practice.
Hearing Voices
Samantha Hack and Tracy Robertson
At this time Hearing Voices can only be delivered in person in VISN 5. If you would like to bring Hearing Voices to your facility you can purchase a toolkit at The goal of the Hearing Voices Workshop is to increase understanding of mental illness and to decrease stigma.  During this experiential workshop, participants wear earbuds and listen to “voices” that are very similar to the auditory hallucinations that individuals with serious mental illnesses hear.  Participants are asked to do various activities that involve cognition in order to increase their understanding of the day-to-day lives of people with mental illness.
Introduction to Principles & Tools for Reducing Stigma in Mental Health Care
Alicia Lucksted
An introduction to the belief, emotion, and behavior components of stigmatization, 5 categories of how people experience it and its consequences, and how breaking it down these ways can help point to remedies in a given setting or situation. Then introduction to 3 principles with which to build such remedies, and examples and discussion of applying them in mental health settings.

Promoting Community Integration

VA Connection Plans: A Whole Health Intervention to Promote Social Connections
Samantha Hack, Amanda Peeples
The VA Connection Plans intervention is a two-session phone-based intervention to increase Veterans’ sense of social connectedness. Facilitators help Veterans set goals in three areas: Mind (ways to change negative thoughts), Body (ways to change unpleasant body sensations), and Connections (ways to increase social engagement). This presentation will provide an overview of this intervention and preliminary data from a clinical demonstration project supporting its efficacy for decreasing perceived social isolation and increasing resilient coping.
An Overview of Critical Time Intervention
Richard Goldberg
An overview of Critical Time Intervention, a time-limited, evidence-based practice to facilitate continuity of care and community integration during periods of care transition (e.g., after discharge from an inpatient psychiatric hospitalization).
Mental Health Self-Health Resources in the Community
Alicia Lucksted
Presentation of the rationale, evidence, and formats of mental health self-help resources in the community to support clients' recovery, including support groups, skill building seminars, peer-run centers, self-directed and online resources. Contact information for resources included.
What's Ours is Yours: Free Mental Health Resources from the Department of Veterans Affairs
Samantha Hack
When US federal agencies create mental health care materials they are often shared with the public for free. Yet few people are aware of this array of resources. This presentation will review materials from the Department of Veterans Affairs which are available for service users, friends and family, and providers, including smart phone apps, educational videos, decision support materials, and Continuing Education Units.

Family and Mental Health Treatment

Involving the Family in the Treament of Serious Mental Illness
Amy Drapalski
Overview of the evidence base for family-based interventions for SMI, followed by discussion of how to increase family involvement in mental health treatment in a VA context.
The Shared-Decision Making for Family Involvement in Treatment (SDM-FIT) Protocol
Amy Drapalski
Training on an efficient, user-friendly tool to use a shared decision-making framework to discuss family involvement in treatment with Veterans with mental illness.
Working with Families of Persons with Mental Illness
Alicia Lucksted
This workshop will help participants optimize ways that they currently engage family members of their mental health clients and to consider additional ways of doing so, towards optimizing relationships and positive effects. It will include specific resources and strategies, and discussion and tips on navigating the challenges of doing so and underlining the benefits. It will not focus on family therapy.

Person-Centered and Culturally Competent Care

An Introduction to the Cultural Formulation Interview
Samantha Hack
An overview of the Cultural Formulation Interview, published in the DSM-5, which provides prompts to assess sociocultural context as it relates to mental health and treatment.
Person-Centered Care Tools for Clinical Practice
Samantha Hack
A discussion of the relationship and differences between person-centered care, recovery-oriented care, and shared decision making as well as an introduction to person-centered tools like the Personal Health Inventory, Circles of Support, and Psychiatric Advance Directive.
Understanding Veterans’ Experiences through Photovoice
Amanda Peeples
Photovoice is a community-based participatory research method that is used to empower stakeholders. This seminar considers the potential for Photovoice methods to be used in a clinical setting to foster engagement and understanding among diverse groups of people.
Veteran Identity Implications for Mental Health Engagement & Care
Alicia Lucksted, Samantha Hack, and Tracy Robertson
Veterans’ social identity as a Veteran is diverse, interacts with other social identities, and has important implications for their health care engagement and health outcomes. This seminar will discuss the various ways this connection can be used to facilitate and improve treatment, adoption of health promoting behaviors, adherence and retention. It draws on clinical applications and research across a variety of social identities (race, culture, gender, and beyond) as well as research and programs specifically addressing “Veteran identity”.
Discussing Cultural Identity in Veteran Mental Health Services
Mary Katherine Howell
Culture identity factors— including race and ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age, military experience and much more—play a significant role in our vulnerability to, experience of, and recovery from mental illness. Many Veterans hold multiple identities simultaneously that influence their conceptualizations of and preferences for the treatment and recovery process. Ethically sound approaches to mental health services prioritize cultural competence (awareness, knowledge, and skills) as well as cultural humility. VHA providers seeking to deliver culturally responsive services and person-centered care for Veterans may benefit from regularly incorporating discussions about cultural identity during care, to inform and improve care. Techniques to facilitate conversations about cultural identity will be introduced, including a provider guide with sample talking points and a cultural identity graphic for use as a visual aid.
Stress, Trauma, and PTSD in Persons with SMI
Mary Katherine Howell
PTSD is a prevalent problem for persons with serious mental illness (SMI). Persons with SMI demonstrate higher rates of exposure of trauma than the general population and are also more likely to develop PTSD. There are also many downstream deleterious effects on prognosis and functioning for individuals with SMI and co-occurring PTSD, including more severe psychotic disorder, greater risk of relapsing in psychosis, higher rates of substance use, and poorer social functioning. There is growing support for the use of evidence-based practices (EBPs) for PTSD in persons with SMI, indicating that these treatments are safe and suggesting preliminary efficacy in some cases. Persons with SMI, and in particular Veterans, may experience a variety of barriers in accessing treatment for PTSD—ranging from Veteran characteristics to clinician attitudes, and from clinic policies to treatment-specific barriers. Special considerations and recommendations for treatment will be introduced.
Addressing Intimate Partner Violence in Clinical Settings
Haley Miles-Mclean
This seminar provides information on intimate partner violence and can be tailored based on the needs of the audience. Potential content to be covered includes: prevalence rates of IPV use (i.e., perpetration) and experiences (i.e., victimization); risk factors associated with IPV use and/or experiences; assessment methods for IPV use and/or experiences; and potential intervention strategies for IPV use and/or experiences.
Addressing Gender-based Stressors in Clinical Settings
Haley Miles-Mclean
This seminar provides information about gender-based stressors and can be tailored based on the needs of the audience. Potential content to be covered includes: definitions and types of gender-based harassment (e.g., overt sexism, objectification, sexist microaggressions); gender-based violence; assessment of gender-based stressors; associations with mental health; and potential intervention strategies.

Motivational Enhancement

Motivational Interviewing Basics
Melanie Bennett and Letitia Travaglini
An overview of basic motivational interviewing skills to enhance clients’ interest in and motivation to change health behaviors..
Motivational Interviewing in Group Settings
Letitia Travaglini
Focuses on how to use basic motivational interviewing skills in a group formats where individuals may be at varying stages of change. Ideal for people/clinics who already have been trained in and/or use motivational interviewing with individuals.
Ready, Set, Grow: A New Motivational Group for People Living with SMI
Elizabeth Klingaman
Overview of protocol for Ready, Set, Grow, a group-based motivational enhancement intervention for adults with SMI. The group focuses on engaging consumers in the process of growth and recovery and evoking their own motivation to change.

Treatment of Substance Use

Screening, Brief Intervention, & Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) for Unhealthy Alcohol and Drug Use
Letitia Travaglini
An overview of the SBIRT model, including specific brief intervention techniques and how to begin considering ways to incorporate SBIRT into your specific program/clinic
Treating Substance Use Disorders in Adults with Serious Mental Illness
Melanie Bennett
An overview of the evidence base for the treatment of substance use disorders in adults with serious mental illness, along with practical, hands-on tools and techniques to use.

Treatment of Early Psychosis

Implementation of First Episode Psychosis Services in Maryland
Melanie Bennett
An overview of efforts to implement team-based care for early psychosis, as well as a discussion of resources for young adults with psychosis, in the state of Maryland.
Assessment and Treatment of Young Adults Experiencing Early Psychosis
Melanie Bennett
A review of the evidence base, as well as practical clinical tips and tools, for the assessment and treatment of young adults with early psychosis.

Health and Wellness

Smoking Cessation for Adults with Mental Illness
Melanie Bennett
An overview of the evidence base for smoking cessation in adults with mental illness, along with practical hands-on tools and techniques to implement in clinical practice.
Sleep Disorders and Mental Health Interventions for Veterans with SMI
Elizabeth Klingaman
This seminar provides empirically-informed guidance for clinicians on appropriate assessment, treatment, and referral decisions relevant to sleep disorders among Veterans with SMI.
Bright Light Exposure and Avoidance for Winter Depression, Circadian Rhythm Disorder, and Better Sleep
Teodor Postolache
A review of the research on the use of bright light therapies for a range of conditions.
Pain in Individuals with Complex Mental Health Conditions
Letitia Travaglini
Provides an overview of prevalence rates of pain among individuals with psychiatric illness and issues with treatment of pain among individuals with complex comorbid presentations.
Integrating Physical Activity and Movement into Mental Health Treatment for Aging Veterans
Amanda Peeples
A review of the research on the importance of physical activity and exercise for healthy aging, as well as suggestions for incorporating physical activity into mental health care.

The Role of Peer Specialists and Peer-Delivered Interventions

Peer Support Around Family Matters
Tracy Robertson
This seminar will present updated research about the benefits of family involvement in mental health recovery, Veteran preferences and VA policies regarding family involvement in mental health treatment, and how Peer Specialists can support the Veterans they work with on the topic of family.
The Role of Peer Providers in Supporting Physical Health and Wellness
Richard Goldberg
While peer providers have traditionally supported recovery from mental illness and substance use disorders, they are increasingly being deployed to support physical health and wellness among individuals with mental health conditions. The purpose of this webinar is to provide an overview of the research on how peer providers can support physical health and wellness outcomes such as illness self-management, smoking cessation, proactive use of health care, weight management, exercise and physical activity, and others. This will be followed by a discussion of what is means to be a “peer” when the focus of the peer support is improving physical health. Finally, qualitative data from a recent randomized controlled trial of Living Well, a peer co-facilitated group intervention promoting illness self-management among individuals with serious mental illness, will be presented. This data sheds light on the role of the peer provider in the intervention and how the intervention led to health behavior change.


This page contains a growing list of our seminar offerings.

*****These offerings will be continually updated over the coming weeks and months!"****

Check back for updates!

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