2nd Annual Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Conference

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2nd Annual Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Conference

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The 2nd Annual Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Conference is brought to you by the Salisbury University Center for Healthy Communities and the Wicomico County Health Department Local Behavioral Health Authority. Attendees will receive up to four and one half (4.5) Social Work approved continuing education credits.

Keynote Presentation: Clinical Perspectives on Traumatic Bereavement, Loss, and Grief: A Case Study-Based Approach with Christopher Layne, PhD

Bereavement under tragic and potentially traumatic circumstance poses a dual challenge to children and their families, and to professionals who work with them. These bereaved individuals can be triply distressed by the death and subsequent loss, by the tragic and traumatic circumstances under which the death occurred, and by often-severe adversities generated by the ensuing loss and the way the death occurred. Using the Core Curriculum Ella Case Study as an example, the presentation will discuss different ways in which grief reactions can appear at different age groups and the critical importance of assessing and including caregivers in work with bereaved children. This presentation will cover basic terms (bereavement, grief, mourning) needed to conceptualize grief reactions. It will also describe Prolonged Grief Disorder PGD), which is included in the forthcoming DSM-5-TR, key risk factors. It will also discuss our national epidemics (COVID, overdose, alcohol, suicide, homicide) and ways in which they increase the risk for PGD and other long-term difficulties with mental health, behavior, and functioning. COVID-19 and other epidemics are exerting devastating effects globally, including a “second wave” of secondary mental health consequences. This presentation will discuss new opportunities to raise the standard of bereavement care. Given that most bereaved individuals grieve within a normal/adaptive range, it will emphasize the need for a strength-based approach to assessing and helping bereaved youth and families, while also creating risk screening and referral networks for those having serious difficulties. The presentation will conclude with practical recommendations for distinguishing grief from PTSD and major depression, promoting good grief, and creating risk screening and referral networks.


  • Describe the “second wave” emerging from COVID-19 and other epidemics, and the need to create bereavement-informed systems of care.
  • Discuss risks associated with bereavement and grief across the life course: What do we know?
  • Describe how to distinguish grief from related problems.
  • Describe basic principles of working with bereaved youth and families

Breakout Session 1: (All Attend)

Using the Core Curriculum Ella Case Study to Build Assessment, Case Conceptualization, and Intervention Planning Skills with Christopher Layne PhD and Polly Gipson, PhD

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN)’s Core Curriculum on Childhood Trauma uses a variety of approaches—including detained case studies, problem-based learning, and instructional tools—to build critical reasoning and decision-making skills. This break-out session—co-led by clinical psychologists Drs. Christopher Layne and Polly Gipson—will use the Core Curriculum Ella Case Study to help learners practice information-gathering, case conceptualization, and intervention planning skills. Important points to be covered include the importance of a developmental-ecological approach, considering multiple hypotheses or explanations for problems, and the importance of the caregiver-child relationship in facilitating adjustment. Attention will also be given to the special challenges of working with traumatically bereaved children who are distressed both by the death and loss, and by the circumstances under which it occurred.


  • Describe the four steps that make up the basic four-step problem-based learning cycle.
  • Define what diagnostic overshadowing is, and how risk for diagnostic overshadowing can rise when a child’s developmental/trauma history is unknown.
  • Discuss the importance of the caregiver-child relationship, and why guidance and support of caregivers is crucially important to the well-being of traumatized and bereaved youth.

Breakout Session 2:(Pick One)

Implications of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) for Trauma- and Bereavement-Informed Care with Christopher Layne, PhD

The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) studies have greatly helped to raise public awareness concerning the potent, broad-spectrum, and enduring effects childhood exposure to trauma and other severe adversities. Nevertheless, the ACEs measures were developed originally for medical research and possess limited utility—and potentially serious drawbacks—when used for intervention-related applications including risk screening, clinical referral, or intervention planning. This break-out session will discuss the importance of incorporating a developmentally-informed conceptual framework and developmentally-sensitive measures in creating trauma-informed and developmentally sensitive systems of care. This includes initial risk screening, triage/referral, diagnostic/in-depth clinical assessment, trauma- and developmentally informed case conceptualization, intervention planning, and intervention delivery. Introducing the concepts of risk factor caravans and resource caravans, the presentation will discuss basic principles of seeking to both launch/promote beneficial resource caravans while inhibiting/protecting against risk factor caravans. Further, COVID and other spiking epidemics including overdose, suicide, and homicide underscore the importance of recognizing the needs of bereaved youth and families. This includes using appropriate assessment tools and interventions for youth experiencing both trauma-related and loss-related distress.


  • Summarize key findings of the ACEs studies (health consequences, intergenerational cascades, SES, social health determinants).
  • Discuss limitations and drawbacks to using the ACEs for risk screening or assessment applications.
  • Explain why and how a developmental approach enriches our ability to understand and apply ACEs-related findings and principles.
  • Define the concepts of resource caravans, risk factor caravans, and caravan passageways.
  • Discuss basic intervention guidelines for launching/promoting resource caravans while inhibiting/protecting against risk factor caravans.


Creating Trauma-Informed Schools with Polly Gipson PhD

Sadly, two out of three students will experience a traumatic event by age 16 years (National Child Traumatic Stress Network, 2017). In the absence of trauma-informed interventions and supports, traumatic stress may “get under the skin,” negatively impacting children's academic achievement, behavioral, socio-emotional functioning and contributing to a host of mental and physical health problems like depression, substance use, suicide attempts, obesity, diabetes and heart disease. Moreover, peers, parents and caregiving adults (school officials) who interact with traumatized youth are at elevated risk for secondary traumatic stress. Research informs us of the cumulative effects of adverse childhood experiences and environments, including behavioral/physical health, family-/community-related consequences. Further, secondary adversities that disproportionately impact urban, under- resourced and under-served communities like the school-to-prison pipeline and systemic racism is interconnected with traumatic stress exposure. Becoming a Trauma-Informed School is a potential solution to addressing these issues. Promoting Resilience and Outreach through Multi-tiered Interventions and Supportive Environments (PROMISE) for Success, a Trauma-Informed and Trauma-Responsive school-based intervention, implemented in an urban Southeastern Michigan community with high ACEs, poverty, community violence, premature death and other traumatic- and grief-related circumstances is a multi-tiered approach designed to promote the following: a) safe, supportive environments; b) shared understanding of traumatic impacts, recognizing signs of traumatized individuals and preventing re-traumatization; and c) tailored interventions for youth and adults such as Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports and Compassion Resilience Circles, respectively, for those experiencing post- or secondary traumatic stress reactions. Attendance at this breakout will facilitate learners thinking and initial steps to development of a Trauma-Informed School plan including the process of stakeholders’ engagement.


  • Identify the 5 R’s of Trauma-Informed Schools
  • Describe a multi-tiered approach to addressing students traumatic stress
  • Discuss a group-based adult intervention to promoting resilience and tackling compassion fatigue and burnout

Keynote Presenter: Christopher Layne, PhD

A licensed clinical psychologist, Dr. Christopher Layne is Program Director of Education in Evidence-Based Practice at the UCLA/Duke University National Center for Child Traumatic Stress, and a Researcher in the UCLA Department of Psychiatry. Dr. Layne has co-authored over 100 peer-reviewed articles and chapters, over 200 conference presentations, and measures of war exposure, social support, self-efficacy, and grief reactions. Dr. Layne leads the Core Curriculum on Childhood Trauma for the National Child Traumatic Stress Network and has co-authored four widely-used manualized interventions, including Psychological First Aid; FOCUS for Military Families; Skills for Psychological Recovery; and Trauma and Grief Component Therapy for Adolescents. A leader in the youth bereavement field, Dr. Layne with the American Psychiatric Association to develop criteria for Prolonged Grief Disorder in DSM-5-TR. His professional interests include traumatic stress and bereavement; competency-based professional education; developmental psychopathology; evidence-based practice; evidence-based assessment; theory building; research methods; and trauma- and bereavement-focused intervention. Dr. Layne has provided trainings and consultation for over 20 years in many settings including war, terrorist attacks, schools, hospital systems, and juvenile justice.

Presenter: Polly Gipson, PhD

Dr. Polly Y. Gipson is a Clinical Associate Professor; Associate Chair for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion; and Director of the Trauma and Grief Clinic at Michigan Medicine in the Department of Psychiatry. She is the principal investigator for a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholars award focused on the promotion of resilience and implementation of trauma-informed interventions in an urban Southeastern Michigan school/community. Dr. Gipson is also a co-investigator for a NIH funded study focused on the warning signs of youth suicide attempters. She is a site principal investigator for a SAMHSA funded investigation focused on the development of bereavement-informed best practices for youth. She is a member of the Youth and Young Adult Depression and Suicide Prevention Research Program. She is a licensed clinical psychologist with expertise in child and family evidence-based clinical practices; trauma- and bereavement-informed assessment and intervention; suicide risk assessment and intervention; universal screening; brief interventions; and community-based participatory research approaches.

This conference is brought to you by the Wicomico County Health Department Local Behavioral Health Authority.

Attendees will earn up to four and one half (4.5) hours of Category I Maryland BSWE and BLPC approved CEUs. CEU certificates provided by the Salisbury University School of Social Work and Center for Healthy Communities.

If you wish to discuss reasonable accommodations, please contact Degan Allen at dmallen@salisbury.edu.Continuing Education: Attendees will receive up to 4.5 Cat I Maryland Board of Social Work Examiners and Board of Professional Counselors and Therapists Continuing Education Units.Online Conference Format.

This conference will be held via a Zoom.us meeting. You will be sent a Zoom registration link the day before the training. To receive full credit you must be able to full engage the training in live time. You do not need a webcam. Test your equipment at www.zoom.us/test.

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