2018 Northwest Peer Support Conference Session Descriptions

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Tuesday, February 6, 2018


12:00 – 5:00 p.m.
Clinical Treatment of Trauma Related Distress in First Responders
Timothy W. Dietz, LPC

Want to work with first responders? This course will focus on trauma-related distress within the population of emergency responders.  It will introduce the student to the factors that influence a stress response, the sources of stress, the biology of a stress response and current treatment modalities for recovery. The student will also develop special knowledge of the unique personality traits, and family and workplace dynamics of this “culture” to create a better understanding of their wants, needs, and treatment options. The student will also come to understand the importance of self-care when dealing with these special populations.

Upon completion of this course, the participant will be able to:

  • Understand the unique personality traits of emergency responders, and how these traits can impact their response to traumatic events.
  • Describe prevalence and correlates of PTSD, depression, and other mental disorders post traumatic events.
  • Understand symptoms associated with the stress response, and be able to discuss distress vs. dysfunction.
  • Understand the clinician’s role in counseling/treating emergency responders.
  • Discuss proven treatment options (best practice) for traumatic distress/PTSD when working with emergency responders.
  • Understand the importance of self-care when working with emergency responders.

Intended Audience:  Mental Health Professionals


1:00 – 5:00 p.m.
Peer Support Team Building 101
Nancy Bohl-Penrod, PhD

It is a tough time to be in law enforcement. The negative climate of change surrounding the field of law enforcement today can cause a tremendous amount of work-related and family stress, which can be a serious threat to the well-being of our law enforcement personnel. Having a Peer Support program in place not only helps decrease day-to-day stress, it can also countercheck the emotional strain of critical incidents and prevent the accumulation of emotions that can lead to alcohol abuse, depression, domestic violence, and suicide.

Benefits of a Peer Support program include the ability to provide peers with immediate assistance, provide additional support, allow for ventilation and sharing to take place, and works in tandem with the services provided by chaplains and mental health professionals. A successful Peer Support program reduces long-term critical incident stress, turn-over and health insurance costs, worker’s compensation claims, fitness-for-duty evaluations and supports supervisor referrals.

During this presentation trainees will be able to identify the personal characteristics of effective Peer Supporters to aid in their selection process of new team members. They will also learn about the proper training each newly-elected Peer Supporter needs and the importance updated training will provide in order to promote a strong and resilient Peer Support team.

The Goal of a peer support program is to provide all law enforcement personnel with the opportunity to receive emotional and tangible support through times of personal or professional crisis, to assist them with resolving their problems on their own, and to be provided with the resources necessary to get them the help they need.


1:00 – 5:00 p.m.
A Pre-Conference Workshop for Spouses and Partners of First Responders
Vic Dody, Sergeant, Portland Police Bureau, and Nadine Dody, LPC, MA, MFT

Little did we know it would take a village to keep a relationship with a first responder intact. How do you survive the career with your relationship still thriving?  During this interactive presentation you will be given some tools to help you have a lasting and loving relationship.  We will work on communication styles, warning signs, and learn how to deal with the pit-falls of first responder relationships.  We will get to know each other and begin to build the support we may need throughout this working life.





Wednesday, February 7, 2018


8:00 – 8:30 a.m.
Opening Ceremonies



8:30 – 10:50 a.m.
The Art of Survival; Vicarious Traumatization and the 1st Responder
Timothy W. Dietz, LPC


This presentation will take us through our journey in the public safety professions and provide a recognition and understanding of vicarious traumatization and its profound impact on the first responder. "The Art of Survival" looks into the need for behavioral health programs in higher stress occupations and provides simple tools for organizations and individuals to literally create stress resistance, enhance resilience and speed recovery from overwhelming events.

Intended audience:  First responders and Peer Team members (police, fire, medic, dispatch, chaplains)


11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Science, Wisdom and the Warrior-Humanitarian
Richard Goerling, Lieutenant, Hillsboro Police Department

Lt. Goerling will lead a discussion on the landscape of stress, trauma, resiliency and performance and how mindfulness skills are the critical foundation for first responders. This includes information around the "new" science of resilience, and translates what we know from research to practical applications to first-responder organizations.


1:00 – 5:00 p.m.
Experiential Workshop
Richard Goerling, Lieutenant, Hillsboro Police Department

In this experiential workshop, Lt. Goerling will introduce guided mindfulness practices -- building foundational skills for participants and resourcing for next steps toward greater resiliency and performance.


1:00 – 1:50 p.m.
First Responder Self-Care in Marriage, Family and Relationships
Chaplain Bob Dorsey, LPC, Gresham Police Department

Everyone wants the same core thing with intimate relationships: to feel safe, loved and valued. The need to truly know that your significant other "has your back" is a crucial built-in survival code in every human being, and when we sense that we are alone, we have limited strategies to cope; we either pursue or withdraw. We do this habitually and sometimes for decades because it makes sense and it confuses us that the other "doesn’t get it."

This course will discuss simple, practical and effective ways to understand this negative relational cycle and provide tools to develop a strong and effective relationship.



2:00 – 5:00 p.m.
Know Your Enemies, Know Your Allies, Arm Yourself – The Incredible Value of Off-Duty Backup
Victoria M. Newman, How2LoveYourCop

Loved ones at home are a vital part of a law enforcement career. They serve as a safe place, a voice of encouragement and reason, balance to the consuming perspectives of law enforcement, and even a compass to give direction when we veer off course. We will look at how to serve and protect our relationships through the seasons of a police career. Positive yet real, supporting family and career, the goal of this presentation is to give perspectives, tools and -- most important -- encouragement.




Thursday, February 8, 2018


8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Kenneth A. Logan, PsyD.
Neurologically Informed Management of Traumatic Incident Exposure

This session is designed to provide public-safety personnel information about the neurological effects of exposure to traumatic incidents and chronic stress.

New and practical insights and interventions from neuroscience research will be communicated in a user-friendly way to help aid in understanding the effects of public safety work -- and the session will provide effective care strategies to those trying to support public safety workers.



1:00 – 2:50 p.m.
Overcoming Adversity:  Panel Discussion
Sarah Shirvany and Ila Borders

Session description TBA.


3:00 – 5:00 p.m.
Reducing Stress & Preventing Burnout: Evidence-Based Practices That Work
Robin Rose

In this ever-changing and often stress-filled field, skills to sustain one’s personal resilience and prevent the burnout that constant stress (and particularly toxic stress) can cause are critical.

This is critical not only in order to maintain personal and career satisfaction, clear thinking, and heartfelt connections, but also to sustain one’s health and a sense of humor -- on the job and elsewhere.

In this talk, Robin tackles the important subject of stress in your life: what it is and how it impacts your physical and mental health as well as your work and relationships. Learn how to reduce stress, manage it and increase your resistance to it while building your personal reserves. Get key skills to sustain yourself year round.

Participants will learn many ways to reduce stress in the workplace and at home. Learn to stop a stress reaction in seconds, regardless of what is going on around you. Gain skills to release accumulated stress that is negatively impacting your attitude and your health. Find out which situations trigger your suffering and/or a stress reaction and how to work with them successfully. Robin will teach you 8 different techniques to stop or slow the "biological downshift" into unhealthy stress mode, along with 20 research-driven practices that increase your resistance to stress and help prevent burnout.

You will identify what effective stress reduction is and what it looks like for you, given your lifestyle and demands. Learn how self-care benefits you at all levels (mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually). Learn to recognize when you need to debrief and shed accumulated stress and worries before they negatively impact your home life and health. Identify how much is too much, and learn how to set healthy boundaries and say "no." Practice essential time-management skills that increase your personal satisfaction while reducing your stress levels. Learn how to leave work at work and home at home -- and how to debrief, change your "state," and more.

You will learn to:

  • Recognize the physical, mental, and emotional indicators of both positive and negative stress
  • Assess your personal stress levels and your unique stress indicators
  • Relax the tension in your body immediately
  • Identify what self-care and communication practices prevent burnout
  • Appreciate the connections between play, hobby-time and workplace adaptability
  • Maintain your sense of humor
  • Use your stress to strengthen your resilience
  • Find your inner place of calm and ease, practice mindfulness techniques
  • Do more of what you love – and find the time
  • Sleep longer and more soundly
  • Reenergize your body and refuel your mind


Friday, February 9, 2019


8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
By Their Own Hand
Daniel W. Clark, PhD

The bad news: we lose as many officers to suicide as to line-of-duty deaths every year. 

The good news: suicide is preventable.

As Peer Supporters, you are a key resource in saving the life of someone who is close to the edge.

We’ll talk about how many officers die every year by their own hand, why this happens, the critical role you as peers play, and vital intervention techniques -- and close with thoughts regarding taking care of yourselves.