Educational Resources: Connecting the Dots Annual Conference

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Connecting the Dots Conference Session Descriptions


Improving Your Spirits Using Cognitive-Behavioral Strategies
Joseph A. Himle, Ph.D., Associate Professor, U-M Department of Psychology and
School of Social Work

HimleConquering work/life stress is a struggle for many people in the workforce. Seeking help and finding answers can be a difficult and daunting process. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is an example of one strategy that can open the doors to stress reduction, emotional wellness and overcoming depression. This session will focus on depression and how CBT can help you achieve a healthy work and home life.

Associate Professor Joseph Himle holds B.A. and M.S.W. degrees, and a Ph.D. in Social Work and Personality Psychology, all from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. His research interests focus on mental health intervention research with adults and youth. Himle's current intervention projects include treatment development projects focused on bringing cognitive behavioral therapy to underserved populations. He is involved in epidemiological research focused on anxiety disorders in the African American population. He holds a joint appointment with the U-M Department of Psychiatry and the School of Social Work. Other areas of research/scholarly interest: the relationship between psychosocial interventions and neurobiological factors, mental disorders, social work practice in mental health.

(Video length: 51 minutes)

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Block 1 Sessions
10:30-11:45 am


1. Improving Your Stress Level Using Cognitive-Behavioral Strategies
Joseph A. Himle, Ph.D., Associate Professor, U-M Department of Psychology and School of Social Work

This breakout session with Professor Joe Himle will offer an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the therapeutic process and the ways in which it can positively affect daily issues with anxiety and stress. The use of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for stress and anxiety in the workplace and at home will be highlighted.

See above for biography


2. Parenting in a Digital Age
Robin Batten, Internet Safety Facilitator, Washtenaw Area Council for Children

This workshop will discuss the benefits of using technology to communicate, and also the many things young people encounter that put them at risks as they communicate online: Cyberbullying, Online Predators, Sexual Exploitation, Sexting and Privacy Protector. This workshop increases parent awareness and offers ways to handle situations that may occur as children use technology.

Robin has a B.A. in Psychology, has worked as an Internet Safety Facilitator for about 1 1/2 years, and was a stay-at-home mother for 6-7 years. She has had the opportunity to work with children and adults of various ages, backgrounds and needs. Her work history includes Wayne State University Libraries; Vista Maria, treatment facility for teen girls; and Methodist Children’s Home Society as a Foster Care Licensing Worker; and her volunteer experience includes Children’s Church Coordinator & Teacher; and Holiday Gift giving and food program.


3. Navigating with Mindfulness
Claire Weiner, A.M., L.M.S.W., Clinical Social Worker, UMHS Department of Psychiatry/PsychOncology Clinic

Stress is a given in our world. The consequences of chronic stress are many including, physical, emotional and interpersonal difficulties. Mindfulness can be learned to help us navigate in the world more skillfully and decrease stress. Mindfulness is derived from ancient traditions, but is not religious in nature. Mindfulness can be practiced informally, with everyday activities and formally, with meditation. This session will provide 1) a didactic overview of informal and formal mindfulness practice 2) experiential opportunities to practice mindfulness including meditation and 3) ways to incorporate mindfulness into your life.

Claire is a Clinical Social Worker at UMHS, and her work includes individual, group and couples psychotherapy; and supervision and mentoring of graduate students in the Department of Psychiatry and the PsychOncology Clinic. She has interest in, practice of and advanced training in mindfulness- based psychotherapy interventions, including Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy and SMARTinEducation (Student Mindfulness and Relaxation Therapy). She holds a B.A. from the University of Illinois and an A.M. in social work, from the University of Chicago. Claire completed the U-M Faculty Scholars Program (Complementary and Alternative Health Care) in 2007-08.


4. Plain Talk about Retirement Benefits
Chris Miller, Senior Benefits Specialist, U-M Benefits Office Administration

Chris is an expert in speaking ‘plain talk’ about what your benefits mean in retirement. Bring your questions and note pad to this session. Learn about saving plans, money options and ‘all things retirement’ from one who knows.

Chris has over 20 years of benefits experience, and worked for Blue Cross and General Motors prior to starting her long career at U-M. She has been married for over 40 years and has two children. Chris enjoys ukulele playing and directing theater as well as puppet- making and performance.


5. Decision-Planning Tools for Long-Term Care Planning
Constance Jones, J.D., Attorney at Law, and Justine Bykowski, M.A., Housing Bureau for Seniors

Many of us are faced with questions about how to care for aging family members and don't know where to begin. Long-term care is a continuum of care, housing, and legal services needed when the aging process begins to exact a toll on our cognitive and physical abilities. Learn about the legal aspects of planning for incapacity as well as the complexities for making decisions related to housing and care options.

Constance has undergraduate and law degrees from U-M, and has been an attorney for over 20 years, including private practice for the last 18 years as C.L. Jones Law. She specializes in elder care issues, including guardianship/conservatorship, estate planning, and settlement of decedent estate; and was a longtime presenter at the U-M Pre-Retirement Series.

Justine is the Coordinator of the Housing Counseling Program, and has a Specialist in Aging Certificate and a Master’s Degree in Education. She has more than 25 years of experience in a wide variety of programs related to the elderly. Justine assists older adults and caregivers explore options such as shared homes, and retirement communities with options for independent living, assisted living and nursing home care.

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Block 2 Sessions

1. Raising a Healthy Teenager: Addressing Tricky Topics and Teen Risk Behaviors
Carole Lapidos, M.S.W. and Jenni Lane, M.A., Raising Strong and Confident Daughters

Parents of teenagers face many challenges. As our kids enter their teen years, the stakes go up as the risks teens take have more serious consequences. Our fears as parents can motivate how we interact with our teens. Join us in this workshop, where we’ll look at adolescent risk behaviors (particularly teen sexuality and drug and alcohol use) and the impact we can have on the risks our teens take. We’ll also practice strategies for communication about these difficult issues.

Carole and Jenni are co-founders of Parents Educating Parents, a program that offers parents a safe space to meet with other parents of teenagers to discuss topics related to adolescent development. They both have many years of experience working with families and teens. Their workshops on raising teens have been well-received throughout Washtenaw County.


2. Budget? Are You Kidding?!
Kathryn Greiner, A.F.C., Director of Credit Education, U-M Credit Union (UMCU)

In this session, you’ll learn where all the money goes, the careful use of credit, and ways to cut expenses to help you live within your means.

Called the “Budget Guru” by the Ann Arbor Observer, Kathryn is a credit counselor who has been helping people improve their budgeting skills for 33 years. Kathryn meets with members of the U-M Credit Union (UMCU) one-on-one to help them clarify financial problems and map out solutions. Her service is free to UMCU members. With her unique blend of compassion, realism and humor she helps people find sensible, workable answers to their financial problems. Kathryn has published many articles, hosted a call-in radio talk show for two years, and has spoken to groups throughout the United States.


3. Oops – Why We Make Mistakes and What We Can Do About It
Lorna Hurl, Ph.D., Counselor, U-M Faculty and Staff Assistance Program (FASAP)

Tired of making mistakes and beating yourself up because of them? Frustrated or confused about why other people make mistakes? Join us to explore the underlying causes of mistakes and discuss ways of preventing them.

Lorna has been a counselor at FASAP since 1997. Previously, she worked in a variety of practice areas including children’s protective services, hospital-based services and community mental health services. She was on faculty at McMaster University and the University of Windsor in Canada. Additionally, she served as an Adjunct Professor at the U-M School of Social Work. Lorna received her doctorate in Social Work from the University of Toronto, Canada.

4. Food is Fuel
Erica Wald, R.D., Manager, MHealthy Nutrition & Weight Management

Balancing your food intake can be a great way to maximize your energy each day. This class introduces MHealthy’s ‘Great Plate’ and the Volumetrics concept outlining the benefits of choosing a wide variety of foods and the importance of eating healthy.

Erica is a Registered Dietitian who strives to make nutrition jargon more understandable and usable. She enjoys teaching nutrition classes as well as one-on-one client meetings -- a chance to learn and grow together. Teaching nutrition classes provides her with a great challenge, effectively reaching a diverse population. Outside of work, Erica enjoys hiking, skiing, camping, relaxing at the beach, and most of all spending time with loved ones.


5. Take Ten Relaxation and Rejuvenation
Wendy Dolan, M.S., Wellness Coordinator, MHealthy, Health and Well Being Services

MHealthy Relaxation/Rejuvenation breaks will influence the relaxation centers of the brain giving you a sense of calm and clarity to help you manage stress. In each ten minute session, you will learn a different stress management technique that you can integrate into your daily life. There are eight Take 10 breaks that are offered. Perform one or all eight Take Ten breaks. You will experience an increased sense of awareness and well-being, a beautiful gift you can give yourself.

Wendy has focused her professional efforts on teaching people how to be physically active and love it! Wendy is an exercise physiologist for MFit, Health and Well Being Services at the U-M. She enjoys teaching exercise and relaxation classes and developing health education products and services to help people reach their healthy lifestyle potential. Wendy is dedicated to incorporating physical activity into each person’s health care plan. She has been featured in the Ann Arbor News, Detroit News and on CNN and UMHS podcasts as a physical activity expert. Away from work, she practices ashtanga and vinyasa yoga, and enjoys healthy cooking, outdoor adventures, and spending time with her husband and two children.


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Block 3 Sessions

1. Thanks a Lot! Raising Grateful Children and Why That Matters
Annie Zirkel, L.P.C., Practice How

Raising grateful children is not only polite, but a critical component to helping our children have a balanced perspective, handle disappointment better, be less likely to have depression or an entitlement complex, have more respect for themselves and others, be more responsible, and be more likely to actually be happy! This workshop delves into this vital parenting topic and offers insight, stories and ideas on how to help your child become and stay grateful throughout their lives.

Author of You'll Thank Me Later ~ A Guide to Raising Grateful Children (& Why That Matters), Annie is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Relationship Consultant based in Ann Arbor. A Nationally Board Certified Counselor with a master's degree in counseling from Eastern Michigan University, Annie works with parents, couples, children, individuals and groups interested in not only improving their relationships but exploring the possibilities beyond. Her training and experience range from parenting education, couple's connection, special needs children and bullying prevention, to the practical skills involved in effective communication, power sharing, and -- her passions -- optimism and gratitude.


2. The Clutter to Hoarding Continuum: Understanding It and How to Help
Mary Rumman, L.M.S.W., UMHS Geriatrics Center, and Harriet Bakalar, L.M.S.W., Housing Bureau for Seniors

This seminar will describe the spectrum of clutter to hoarding. Consequences of hoarding behavior will be explored. Participants will gain a better understanding of some of the common characteristics of a hoarder, and understand some of the thoughts and beliefs that contribute to clutter behaviors. Strategies will be discussed about ways to help others who hoard.

Mary is a clinical social worker at Turner Geriatric Clinic at the UMHS Geriatric Center where she has worked for over 15 years, and was a nursing home social worker prior to that. Her practice includes psychotherapy with individuals, couples and families; group work on caregiving, low vision, positive aging, and cluttering; and care management. She also teaches memory classes for older adult and baby boomers. She has given talks on a variety of subjects including caregiving, memory, and positive aging. She received her master’s in social work from the University of Michigan and has been in practice for 25 years.

Harriet has a master’s in social work from U-M and has worked in numerous areas of social work since 1971, including the U-M Health System, and the Housing Bureau for Seniors since 1971. At HBS, she directs the Elderly Eviction Prevention program and in that capacity began the Washtenaw County Hoarding Task Force, which she has chaired for five years. She has given a variety of presentations on hoarding behaviors.



3. No Title? No Power? Lead Anyway! Seven Skills to Unlock Leadership Potential & Three Ways to Show It
Deborah Orlowski, Ph.D., Senior Learning Specialist, U-M Human Resource Development

Truly successful people know that no matter what title a person has, no matter where he or she is within the organizational structure, everyone has the opportunity to lead. However, there is an effective way to lead and an ineffective way. In this workshop, you’ll learn the seven skills that are critical for being seen and accepted as a leader, and three ways to effectively get yourself known as a leader. You will analyze your current leadership skills; work on your own leadership plan; and practice networking, a key leadership skill.

Deborah’s expertise includes: conflict resolution; improving communication and teamwork, especially when impacted by intercultural issues; leadership development; and personal styles identification. Deborah is certified in the Personal Profile System (DISC™), the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI™) and the I-Opt™. Deborah was one of the first people profiled on the U-M Diversity Matters website. She is a graduate of Wayne State University’s Multicultural Experiences in Leadership Development (MELD) program, as well as New Detroit’s Cultural Immersion program. Deborah holds a B.A. in sociology from the U-M; an M.P.A. from Eastern Michigan University and a Ph.D. from the California Institute of Integral Studies.

4. Harmony of Energy
Wasentha Young, M.A., Director, Peaceful Dragon School/Harmony of Energy Center

There are three distinct aspects of our being that stress effects -- body, mind and energy. As an experiential session, Master Wasentha Young will share strategies for reducing the impact of stress. She will take you through 14 basic Chi Kung (energy work) stretches that systematically loosens joints and large muscle groups; guide you through meditation exercises and self applied Acu-points that release muscle tension for the neck, shoulders, lower back and knees; and conclude with an introduction to Tai Chi as a “meditation in motion.” By the end of the session you will be pleasantly relaxed and energized. Comfortable clothing is recommended.

Wasentha is a master and scholar in the art of T'ai Chi and Chi Kung (Energy Work) with over 42 years of experience. She has received formal instruction in Taoist and Buddhist meditation, achieved certification in Acupressure, and received a Master’s degree as well as a Wellness Counselor in Mind/Body Consciousness certificate from the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology. Wasentha is published, lectures, and educates on the benefits of Tai Chi, Chi Kung, and Meditation as it relates to mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical well-being. She owns and directs the Peaceful Dragon School in Ann Arbor.


5. Managing Life’s Changing Situations from a Legal Perspective
Marian Faupel, J.D., Attorney at Law

Learn more about your right to grandparent visitation, the benefits of a pre- or post-nuptial agreements, the pitfalls of inter-family “loans,” the ups and downs of reverse mortgages, the liability of owning a vehicle with someone else, and basic estate planning issues (such as wills, trusts, powers of attorney, health care advocates, guardianships and conservatorships), along with even more legal issues that affect your day-to-day life.

Marian has practiced law for 27 years in southeastern Michigan. She graduated from the U-M and then Wayne State Law School. Marian represented the birth parents in the famous “Baby Jessica” case and taught Family Law as an adjunct professor at Wayne State. She was a senior editor of the Wayne Law Review while in Law School, with approximately 15 published articles. Marian has appeared in court in more than 15 Michigan counties and pro hac vice in Indiana and Florida. For almost 25 years, she was a presenter at the U-M Pre-Retirement Series speaking on legal issues facing older adults and retirees. Currently, Marian is the senior partner of Faupel, Fraser & Fessler, a law firm in Ann Arbor.


6. Career Transition: Is It Time for Your Career to Transition?
Valerie Eaglin, Dorion Holbrook, Barbara Wingrove, Ron Sober, and W. Jean Tennyson

If you don’t know the answer to this question or if the answer is “YES,” then this workshop is for you. A panel of career professionals will help you think about and discuss the following:
• What is career transition?
• Approaches to career transition
• Career transition resources

Valerie Eaglin, a Senior Counselor and Program Specialist, has over 30 years of program development and career counseling experience. She currently works for the U-M Center for the Education of Women. She has assisted women and men with general life planning to assist them with their own goals for education and employment as well as facilitated and led programs and workshops. Valerie is an advisor for the Voices of Staff Career Development Network Group.

Dorion Holbrook is the Corporate and Business Service Representative with Washtenaw County Michigan Works! Agency. and has been with Michigan Works! since February 2005. He has over 10 years of experience in Workforce Development, and over 5 years of experience in progressive Human Resources responsibilities: primarily candidate recruitment, screening, selection, job description creation and staff training. He recruits and screens candidates for employers such as: Alternative Energy, Automotive Engineering, Aerospace, Advanced Manufacturing, Life Sciences, Bio-Technology, Information Technology, etc. He holds a master’s degree in Human Resources Administration, and is a Certified Business Solutions Professional, Certified Workforce Development Professional, and Certified Global Career Development Facilitator.

Barbara Wingrove has more than 30 years of experience in Human Resources at UMHS. She currently serves as Coordinator for the Career Transition Center, assisting UMHS staff with reduction-in-force status; and as an Outreach Program Coordinator (working with Washtenaw County School Systems and their individual health career programs as a speaker, presenter/coordinator; and serves as Chairperson, Health Sciences Advisory Board for Ann Arbor High Schools). She also represents U-M at external community job fair events.

Ron Sober is the curriculum lead for HRD and also provides HRD support to the advancement of the goals of the VOICES of the Staff Career Development Network Group. His areas of expertise are instructional design, learning and e-learning development, facilitation, and strategic planning and change management. Ron has expert knowledge of instructional technologies and how to apply those technologies in support of the learning function. His 17 years as a learning professional in the private and public sectors have provided a wealth of experience to draw from allowing him to easily partner with those who are interested in the development of learning strategies.

W. Jean Tennyson has more than 20 years of experience in Human Resources at U-M. She currently serves as the Staff Diversity Recruitment Coordinator for University Human Resources - Recruiting & Employment Services. Jean co-facilitates U-M’s Voices of the Staff Career Development Network Group, is a regular presenter of career development-related workshops, and represents U-M at external community recruiting events as a speaker, presenter and panel member.


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