Since 2006, the North Carolina Child Treatment Program (NC CTP) has reached across our state to train mental health providers in evidence-based treatments addressing childhood trauma, behavior, and attachment. Using a rigorous learning collaborative model, CTP provides instruction, coaching, and consultation to cohorts of clinicians over a period of 12 to 18 months.
Graduates of these learning collaboratives were invited to attend CTP’s inaugural Advanced Training Conference in 2021. The virtual conference returned in March 2022 to help graduates sustain and improve their use of evidence-based treatments, and to learn about trends in community mental health. Conference sessions focused on recovery and resilience, exploring ways to improve both clinical skills in working with special populations and clinician engagement.
“The conference was so appropriately focused on resiliency as we all work to navigate the rise in mental health needs following the pandemic,” said Angela Austin, LCMHC-S, a therapist with Mountain Child Advocacy Center in Asheville. “I see so many children and families who have been impacted by increases in depression, anxiety, violence in the home, loss of loved ones, and more. This has only exacerbated stressors faced before, including children who face systemic oppression and marginalization.”
Austin gained practical tools for supporting her young clients in Sean Lare’s session “Understanding and Affirming Transgender and Non-Binary Youth in Therapeutic Settings.”
“It was helpful in identifying ways to advocate for transgender youth, particularly in school settings. Expanding my role as an advocate has helped me identify and connect with a variety of local and virtual resources to share with young people… and be able to offer them support and encouragement to increase their feelings of safety, security, and affirmation in their community.”
When Caroline Sigmon, MSW, LCSW, of New Directions Counseling Services in Lenoir registered for the conference, she was most looking forward to Dr. Danielle Busby’s session “Childhood Traumatic Grief with Youth and Families.” Many of the children in Sigmon’s caseload have lost parents and siblings to opioid use, suicide, and illness, and she was in search of new approaches to help them navigate loss and complex trauma.
“With child traumatic grief… you’re looking for nuts and bolts to try to open those doors and sometimes it’s just so challenging,” said Sigmon, describing how she brought the tasks of grieving concept from Dr. Busby’s session back to a teenage client. “This was something that was really nice to give that client an a-ha moment. You felt like a door was opening to begin to move forward.”
Ashley Butler, PhD, child psychologist at Texas Children’s Hospital and associate professor in the Department of Pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine, delivered the keynote address “Including Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in All We Do to Promote Healthy Futures of Racially and Ethnically Diverse Children.” Attendees came away with a deeper understanding of how the concepts of diversity, equity, and inclusion can expand the reach of evidence-based treatments to groups facing disparities in children’s mental health services. The virtual presentation closed with words of gratitude from attendees to Dr. Butler for sharing strategies to address the systemic causes and long-ranging consequences of inequity in mental healthcare.
Pictured above: Keynoter Dr. Ashley Butler, who spoke on ways to promote healthy futures for racially and ethnically diverse children.