HUNTSVILLE BREAKOUT SESSIONS

When Your Child Loses Hope:
Parenting Teens with Suicidal Thoughts

Ashley Jones / Drew Helveston / Leigh Willhelm
Rocket City Counselor

Suicide is the second leading cause of death among school age youth. Youth who are contemplating suicide frequently give warning signs of their distress. Parents, and other adults serving in influential roles in a teen’s life, are in a key position to identify these signs and help youth before they engage in behavior with irreversible consequences. Participants will engage in an informative session that addresses key indicators for both risk and resilience as it pertains to the challenges of hopelessness and the opportunities to instill helpful interventions and hope in a struggling teen’s life.

BREAKOUT OBJECTIVES

1) Participants will be able to understand the risk factors that make teens vulnerable to experiencing suicidal thoughts
2) Participants will gain insight in to specific ways to assess warning signs of suicidality in teens
3) Participants will gain insight in to specific ways to respond, intervene and access available resources for teens when suicidal thoughts are expressed
4) Participants will connect with the value of utilizing faith as a tool for support in helping teens find hope in the midst of depression

Nurses: 1.8 CE
Social Workers 1.5 CE


Healing soul wounds:
How the Church & Community Can Serve Those Who Serve

Bryan Flanery / Adam LaVigne
Reboot Alliance

For many combat veterans and first responders, the stress doesn't end when the deployment ends or the siren goes silent. Too often, the first to respond to the needs of others are the last to seek help for themselves following a traumatic event. Often, traditional mental health services and medication can't adequately meet these unique needs. The Reboot Alliance exists to help veterans, first responders, and their families heal from the moral and spiritual wounds associated with line of duty trauma by equipping the church and community to respond to the needs of this population. This breakout session aims to further educate the church and community about the struggles of those on the front lines defending our country and protecting and serving our communities and to offer tools and strategies for ministering to them.

BREAKOUT OBJECTIVES
1) Educate and provide understanding around military and first responder trauma in light of "soul wounds"
2) Offer practical advice on how churches and the community can serve those who serve
3) Introduce a program geared toward assisting the layperson in ministering to the unique needs of the military and first responder populations.

Social Workers 1.5 CE


Mental Health Stigma in the church: How Can We Respond?

Jason Bybee
Mayfair Church of Christ

Persons with mental health struggles often fail to find their place in our churches. While confession of sin may be common, admissions of mental anguish rarely occur in the church. This is largely due to the erroneous belief held by many in our churches that mental health struggles are a mark of weakness and/or faithlessness. As a church leader, I experienced this stigma firsthand when I sought professional counseling in the wake of family tragedy. But the work of the church is to care for the soul -- the whole being -- and this includes the mental self. Countering this long-standing stigma requires the church to embrace an identity as a transparent, lamenting community.

BREAKOUT OBJECTIVES

1) To diagnose the underlying cause of mental health stigma in the church
2) To name some of the myths associated with mental health in the church
3) And to identify more gracious and compassionate responses to counter this stigma

Social Workers 1.5 CE


Pornography:
The Silent Epidemic that is
Killing Families

Carl Stewart
Marriage Counselor

Pornography is the elephant in the room that has to be addressed. It always affects those around the user no matter how much they tell themselves that it won’t hurt anyone else. More than a ripple effect, the waves created by porn destroy individuals, families, and communities. There is a way to defeat porn (accountability partners and filtering software aren’t enough) by killing it at the root (which isn’t a computer). If you want to finally understand what really drives porn use, what the “antidote” is, and how to effectively heal the damage caused by porn then I look forward to seeing you at this session.

BREAKOUT OBJECTIVES

1) Learn how porn fuels isolation in those that use it
2) Understand how porn fuels isolation in the community around the user (spouse, family, church, work, neighborhood, etc)
3) Learn how porn “hooks” users. *Learn what the “Antidote” for porn is

Social Workers 1.5 CE


Ministering to Those With Severe Mental Illness

Nancy De Haas Dunn
Valley Christian Counseling

Mental illness is a difficult subject to talk about. It can be even more difficult for our Christian community to discuss as it is complicated. We are not able to reduce nicely to simple solutions and happy outcomes. Often we pretend those with mental illness do not exist. We deny and avoid the subject as best we can. However, statistics suggest that one in four people suffer from some kind of mental illness. Our friends and family members bear their own scars and anxious thoughts, and do not see a safe place to talk about the impact of mental illness on their lives and their loved ones. Many of these people are sitting in churches week after week, suffering in a deadening silence. Many of them feel the stigmatized perception from others who sit in the churches with them. We all have family, neighbors, and church members who know the trauma and bewilderment of mental illness. We are reminded that people with mental illness are our neighbors and our brothers and sisters in Christ. Nancy De Haas will present the path to loving them well and becoming a church that loves God with whole hearts and whole souls.

BREAKOUT OBJECTIVES

1) Address the facts about severe mental illness
2) Bring an understanding of the severely mental ill population
3) Discuss steps to help the church serve these people well
4) Show a path to loving the severely mentally ill population

Nurses: 1.8 CE
Social Workers 1.5 CE


Understanding and Supporting Wounded Women

Teresa Judy, MA, MS, LPC

Today’s woman is juggling so many balls in the air, she may not even notice when one falls to the ground. With the surmounting responsibilities of work, family and church, she often feels knocked down and overwhelmed with life. When betrayal, heartache, loss, grief, and pain strike, how does she cope with such emotions? Unfortunately, there is a rise in women turning to sex, drugs, and alcohol in order to find relief. The church should be the first place a woman can turn to find help. However, often times she feels too small or scared to reach out. So, she continues to feel depressed, isolated and alone. The church has a wonderful opportunity to boldly stand up and say YOU are not alone! Women need to feel valued and heard. The local church can provide hurting and wounded women a safe place to find healing and rest. In this breakout session, participants will more fully understand the daily struggles of wounded women and offer practical strategies to equip the church with the knowledge and tools needed to help women grow into the strong godly woman God made them to be.

BREAKOUT OBJECTIVES

1) Provide insights to the false voices surrounding a woman’s wounding
2) Increase knowledge and understanding of a women’s identity in Christ
3) Provide practical tools and strategies for ministering to wounded women
4) Gain understanding to address a woman’s need for safety and security

Social Workers 1.5 CE


“Church Hurt”: Becoming a Trauma-Informed Congregation

Teumbay Barnes
ACAR (AL Coalition Against Rape)

Trauma affects everyone differently. Trauma can vary from being bitten by a dog to being sexually assaulted. No matter the outcome from an event or circumstance, that experience can have lasting effects on an individual’s mental, physical, social, emotional and/or spiritual well-being. While many individuals experience traumatic events without lasting harm, trauma can place a heavy burden on individuals, families and communities. As a result, many people seek refuge in the church. In some cases, they leave the church more hurt than they came. Becoming a trauma informed congregation can be the key to creating a of culture of care and safe haven.

BREAKOUT OBJECTIVES

Individuals will leave the workshop understanding
1) What is trauma
2) Trauma varies person to person
3) Intent vs Impact
4) How to respond

Nurses: 1.8 CE
Social Workers 1.5 CE


Unexpected Pregnancy and Abortion: The Church & Community's
Call to Respond

Christy Harmon / Rachel Hammond
Lifeline Children’s Services

When your friend from church, or the girl in your youth group shares that she is pregnant and not married, do you know how to care for her? When someone has disclosed that they had an abortion, do you know what to say? A 2015 Care Net study found that over 40% of women who have had an abortion shared that they regularly attended church at the time they had their abortion. Half of these women say they never shared about their abortion with anyone in their church. Come join us as we learn to wrap around hurting women by responding with grace and truth.

BREAKOUT OBJECTIVES

As followers of Jesus we want to learn how to:
1) Share truthful information about each option for women facing an unplanned pregnancy: Adoption, Parenting, and Abortion
2) Think about how to graciously share truth with love to hurting friends facing an unplanned pregnancy
3) Know more about the option of adoption and how adoption is a picture of the gospel
4) Build rapport and talk with a woman who is considering abortion for her unborn baby
5) Learn to care for post abortive women with deep compassion

Nurses: 1.8 CE
Social Workers 1.5 CE


When The Unthinkable Happens
in Your Church

Steve Lacy
Willowbrook Baptist

When a suicide happens within the church family it can be a very hard event to handle. How does the church minister to that family and to the congregation as a whole? In this breakout we will look at best practices that can help a church walk it's congregation through this tough event with grace and love.

BREAKOUT OBJECTIVES

1) To help churches know what to do and not do when someone in their congregation takes there life
2) How to help the family heal and deal with bad emotions like shame
3) Answer those theologic questions like "is suicide the unforgivable sin?"

Social Workers 1.5 CE


Caring Holistically for Foster / Adoptive Families

Laura Fletcher / Claire Davis
Lifeline Children's Services

Many church leaders and members wonder how to support foster and adoptive families in their congregation. By dispelling the myths associated with fostering or adopting, this breakout will enable the church to care for children who have experienced trauma and assist the church in becoming a voice for foster and adoptive families. This breakout is for churches who want to be equipped with resources, education, and tools so that they can better care for, include, and support families as they minister to vulnerable children.

BREAKOUT OBJECTIVES

1) Provide education and understanding of trauma and its impact on children and behavior
2) Provide insight into myths of fostering and adopting so churches and leaders can approach fostering and adoptive families without fear and help others understand both the needs and the hope that Christ can give through the church
3) Provide tools to encourage and support foster and adoptive families in your church

Social Workers 1.5 CE


Infertility:
The Silent Depression & Anxiety

Hayley Powell
Connect Church

Struggling to conceive, repeated negative pregnancy tests, miscarriages, surgeries, difficult diagnoses. While infertility is often referred to as the “Silent Disease”, it is certainly not uncommon. In fact, 1 in 8 couples will experience it in their quest to have a child. Infertility can be a profoundly wounding experience, often leading to feelings of despair and shame as couples face shattered dreams, depleted finances, injured personal relationships, and can result in even the most faithful Christ follower questioning where God is in the midst of it all. Understanding the loss and trauma a couple with infertility experiences is necessary in order to bring support and offer hope. In this breakout session, Hayley will share about her own journey that she refers to as "a journey of hope", and will give insight through the lens of Scripture on biblical truths that pertain to this tender topic and how the church can minister to those suffering.

BREAKOUT OBJECTIVES

1) Gain perspective on the effects of infertility to an individual socially, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually
2) Be better equipped to counsel on this topic through biblical truths from Scripture
3) Learn practical ways to minister to individuals and couples who are struggling with infertility

Social Workers 1.5 CE


Navigating Through the
Wilderness of Grief

Jenny Knight
Shepherds Cove

In this interactive workshop, the presenter will facilitate a learning experience adapted from Dr. Alan Wolfelt's teachings on "When Grief is Complicated: A Model to Understand the Wilderness of Complicated Grief". As an individual called to companion a griever struggling in the wilderness, it's our job to join them. Often times that job makes us feel overwhelmed, lost and undone. Wolfelt teaches it is not the grief companion's role to carry, lead or find the way out, it is our responsibility to bear witness, ensure shelter, offer support, explore tools, implement safeguards and promote hope. Join this session to learn how to strengthen families who are walking in the wilderness of grief.

BREAKOUT OBJECTIVES

1) Understanding complicated grief
2) Identifying completed grief symptoms
3) Companioning people living in the wilderness of grief
4) Identify what makes a family strong

Nurses: 1.8 CE
Social Workers 1.5 CE


Race, Ethnicity & Mental health:
Moving beyond stigma

Dr. Robson & Lisa Marie Araujo / Brandon K. Love
Connect Church

A 2015 study by the National Institute of Mental Health (NAMI) reported that those identifying as Black, Hispanic/Latino and Asian were among the least likely to use mental health services. According to the Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health, African Americans are more likely to experience homelessness and exposure to violence, thereby creating both a greater need for mental health services and additional barriers to receiving appropriate care.   Within the Hispanic/Latino community, issues such as privacy concerns,  language barriers and lack of information on mental health symptoms contribute to the stigma of mental illness.  Across all minority races, hindrances to seeking appropriate care can be attributed to many factors, including but not limited to: cultural differences, socioeconomic factors, misdiagnosis, provider bias and general distrust.   Unfortunately, research has shown a lack of cultural competence in mental health care and this needs to change if we desire to minister to these populations.  In this breakout, we will explore the many ways race and mental health are connected as well as learn how the community and church can be part of the movement to break down these isolating, debilitating stigmas.  

BREAKOUT OBJECTIVES

1)Provide information around how race and mental health impact each other.  
2) Offer opportunities for participants to become aware of their own stigmas/perceptions that could hinder their ability to minister to these populations
3) Share practical steps and tools for the church and community to help people of color experience healing, mentally and emotionally

Nurses: 1.8 CE
Social Workers 1.5 CE

Blended Family Challenges:
Real Life, Real Truth

Chris & Kristi Haley

The statistics are out there – According to The US Bureau of Census - over 50% of all families are remarried with 1,300 new stepfamilies forming every day. That means half of all families in America are stepfamilies! They are coming from broken relationships, broken homes, a broken understanding of love, and in many instances, a broken understanding of who God is. When we are broken, everything around us is broken and we carry that brokenness into our relationships whether we are the parent or the child. According to a recent Stepfamily Foundation survey, 75% of all blended families complain of “not having access to resources as a stepfamily", making them feel even more alone and unsupported. In an effort to break down these barriers and stigmas, we believe it’s time we become transparent and tell our story… and God has called us to do just that. His wholeness comes out of a complete surrender of our heart, but each family member must grieve and come to that realization in his/her own time. So how do we minister until He breaks the bond of isolation? Love, love and love… and then love some more! It doesn’t matter what baggage a blended family walked in with, God can take it and make it more than you could ever imagine. We’re living proof of His grace and mercy and we are here to share His story.

BREAKOUT OBJECTIVES

1) To share what’s at the heart of a blended family and the challenges they face first hand from our own experiences
2) Address the spiritual and emotional questions that arise out of broken relationships and hurts of the past both from the child’s perspective and the parent
3) Bring awareness to real issues that surface within the blended family like bitterness, jealousy, anger, resentment and fairness ~ both toward the parents and siblings now part of the blended family
4) Share specific ways in which ministry staff can help answer the hard questions, guide, direct and pray with the families to encourage God’s love and forgiveness and break the thread of isolation

Nurses: 1.8 CE
Social Workers 1.5 CE


Shattering the Stigma of
"Those People”:
The Shame and Redemption of Addictions

Britney & Josh Shoemaker
Celebrate Recovery State Reps

Just above ten percent of the American population claims to be in recovery from some type of drug and alcohol addiction. Recent statistics show that seven million Americans have battled drug use disorder in the span of just one year. This doesn't include other addictive behaviors including sexual, gambling, food, shopping, and others. As Josh and Britney transparently share their personal journey of walking through addiction while in vocational ministry, they will examine the effects, emotions, and restored freedom for both those in addiction and their loved ones. They will unveil the myth that we are living among "those people", and share the hopeful perspective that in our brokenness we can all become a unified community for change.

BREAKOUT OBJECTIVES

1) A transparent look at addiction and it’s effects
2) Informing and equipping the community to battle the hurt of addiction
3) Overcoming through the freedom of surrender in Jesus one day at a time
4) A game plan for pastoral staff and church leadership to implement effective support systems within their ministry

Nurses: 1.8 CE
Social Workers 1.5 CE


Understanding and Supporting Those on the Spectrum and Their Families

Stephanie Hase
Valley Christian Counseling

An increasing number of churches are being faced with the challenge of finding the best way to provide appropriate supports for families of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, with the number of children receiving this diagnosis steadily increasing each year from 1 in 150 children in 2000 to 1 in 59 children in 2014. Sadly, despite the increasing prevalence of this disorder, many who are impacted often still report feeling isolated and wishing that they had more support, even for those families who are regularly involved in church. Sunday morning can be a stressful and difficult time for these children and their families, with many of them struggling to find adequate support and understanding. The local church has an incredible opportunity to be a safe haven for children with ASD and their families. The truly safe and supportive environment that these families are seeking is only possible if churches equip themselves with knowledge and tools to make their facilities, staff, and ministries more sensitive and mindful to the challenges these children and families face both on Sunday morning and beyond.

BREAKOUT OBJECTIVES

1) Provide psychoeducation about Autism Spectrum Disorder in order to increase understanding of the disorder for those working in ministry and those serving children on the Spectrum
2) Provide specific interventions and helpful tools for better serving children on the Spectrum
3) Provide specific ways for ministry staff to support and meet the needs of these families both during services and in their daily lives

Nurses: 1.8 CE
Social Workers 1.5 CE


Ministers in a Mess:
When Depression and Anxiety Hits Home

Matthew Chandler
Connect Church, Arab

What happens when the person in crisis is the pastor? This breakout will focus on equipping pastors with the tools and techniques to overcome depression and anxiety in their own lives. Also, we will discuss how the church can assist their pastors in dealing with their mental health issues.

BREAKOUT OBJECTIVES

1) Educate and equip pastors who are suffering from anxiety and depression.
2) Examine the spiritual and physical aspects of mental illness on the minister.
3) Provide tools for pastors and churches to help overcome these challenge

Social Workers 1.5 CE


Ministering to The Least of These: Poverty & Mental Health

Dr. Tracy Gibson
Fresh Start Life Recovery & Transitional Program

The barriers to health services for the population of people living in poverty is great, especially as it relates to mental health services. According to the Department of Health and Human Services 1 in every 5 adults in the US has experienced some form of mental health issue, while 1 in 25 have been diagnosis with a serious mental illness. Approximately one-third of the homeless population in the US suffers from a mental illness. For many the lack of financial resources not only inhibits their access to consistent and adequate treatment, it has the ability to enslave them to a cycle of despair and hopelessness. Therefore, it is critical that we the church and people called to witness Christ to the world recognize our own misconceptions and/or prejudices, conscious or subconscious, toward this population. As people of faith, loving unconditionally and full of compassion we must purposely begin to equip ourselves through education and training to be a help to our brothers and sister. As the church we must remember the words of our Lord and Savior in Matthew 25:40 (ESV) “…Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me”.

BREAKOUT OBJECTIVES

1) To understand the misconceptions, prejudices, and/or attitudes toward people living in poverty and diagnosis with a mental illness that are based on irrational ideas or myths unsupported by fact
2) To examine, identify, increase and bring awareness about this population’s natural and spiritual needs
3) To highlight educational and training perspectives that will equip churches to effectively minister to this population both naturally and biblically
4) Gain strategic and explicit intervention tools related to this population

Social Workers 1.5 CE