Illinois Mental Health Counselors


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    • March 29, 2020
    • 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM
    • DoubleTree Hilton Skokie, 9599 Skokie Blvd, Skokie, IL 60077

    IMHCA Annual Conference - Saturday
    Saturday - March 28, 2020
    9:00 AM - 4:00 PM
    6 CEs


    DoubleTree Skokie. Mention you are attending the Illinois Mental Health Counselors Annual Conference and receive a special room rate of $109.00 (Standard King or Double Room). Special room rates are available until March 5, 2020. Call 800-222-8733 to make reservations.

    3 Choices

    Sunday, March 29, 2020
    9:00 am - 12:00 pm

    Medical Cannabis & Mental Health
    Anne Shragal, MA, LCPC, PEL-SC, ACS; none

    Bio: Anne Shragal became involved with PTSD and medicinal cannabis when she was working with pediatric patients. After hearing about veterans who had PTSD and using medicinal cannabis, she began doing her own research. Since January 2017, Ms. Shragal has been helping patients attain their medical cannabis cards as an additional treatment to counseling, which may assist in symptom relief and have a successful treatment outcome. She also helps to train other clinicians and interns with proper PTSD assessment processes, exposure therapy, and medical cannabis treatment.

    Anne owns and operates her private practice, Breeze Counseling, servicing clients in Oak Park, Downers Grove, and through online therapy. She holds a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor license (LCPC) with a Masters degree in Community Counseling, a PEL endorsed in School Counseling, and nationally recognized Approved Clinical Supervisor (ACS). She is currently pursuing her doctoral degree at Northern Illinois University in Higher Education and Supervision.

    Workshop Description: With Illinois legalize marijuana January 2020, mental health counselors may have clients receiving counseling while also using cannabis legally. Many clients are finding therapeutic benefits with the use of medical-grade cannabis when monitored and used properly. Emerging research indicates patients are reporting a reduction in symptoms such as anxiety, depression, panic attacks, etc. This, in turn, allows the clinician to work on maladaptive behaviors and cognitive distortions.

    Medical Cannabis & Mental Health is an introductory presentation on the uses of medical cannabis and its implications in Clinical Counseling. Attendees will learn the details surrounding medical cannabis including endocannabinoid and phytocannabinoid systems, strains, and absorptions methods. In addition, participants will get an in-depth look at the implications of medical cannabis on mental health and the emerging research pertaining to this topic. The objective of this presentation is to provide and create dialogue and information surrounding the medicinal use of cannabis in the practice of clinical counseling.

    Sunday, March 29, 2020
    9:00 am - 12:00 pm

    Underpressure: Anxiety in Adolescents
    Kelsey Quade, LCPC, NCC

    Bio: I graduated from McKendree University with a Master of Arts degree in Professional Counseling, and I am a Nationally Certified Counselor. I serve adolescents, adults, and families and utilizes a variety of therapeutic techniques, including cognitive-behavioral, rational emotive, and person-centered. I have worked primarily with adolescents and their families in both inpatient and outpatient settings. I previously served teens who had experienced grief and loss, neglect, abuse, and trauma, and I am trained in the SPARCS therapeutic technique, which focuses on the physical and emotional effects of trauma and chronic stress in adolescents by teaching mindfulness and self-regulating skills.

    I currently work with individuals suffering from depression, anxiety, eating disorders, trauma, anger, and stress to help them learn to modify behaviors and learn healthy coping strategies, improve anger management skills, increase stress tolerance, cope with grief and loss, and improve interpersonal and self-care strategies. My past professional experiences include direct care and therapy at United Methodist Children's Home in Mt. Vernon, Illinois and Catholic Family Services in St. Louis, Missouri

    Workshop Description: Discussion of the factors affecting the ever-increasing cases of high social and generalized anxiety among today's adolescents, including the influence of social media, friends and familial relationships, school, sports, and community, as well as discssion of treatment methods and the roles of parents/guardians, teachers, coaches, and other adults in adolescents' mental health

    Sunday, March 29, 2020
    9:00 am - 12:00 pm

    Supporting those that Protect and Serve: A Clinician’s Guide to Improving Officer Wellness

    Jaclyn Wallen, MA, LCPC; Deputy Vincent Acevez of the Cicero Police Dept and Meghan Meyer, EdD

    Bio: Jackie Wallen, LCPC, earned degrees from Cedarville University and Chicago State University.  As a resident of Cicero she is passionate about helping the community support youth and families.  During her tenure at Youth Crossroads she helped start and build the school based counseling program at the local high school district.

    Jackie is very involved in helping the local communities become more trauma informed, focusing on school systems and law enforcement.  She has trained all of the Cicero Police Department Personnel on Trauma Informed Policing.  She help start a Peer Support Program with the Department and is the Clinician for their Peer Support Program.  She has trained thousands of school personnel on best practices of trauma informed schools and has helped collect data and advocate for trauma informed practices within the school system and law enforcement community. 

    Jackie finds herself often in the role bridge builder—finding great meaning in helping marginalized individuals/groups and systems work together for the betterment of all.  When she isn't working, Jackie loves having adventures with her husband, Joel, and their children, Justus and Deacon.

    Deputy Vincent C. Acevez is a twenty plus year veteran of the Cicero, Illinois Police Department.  Up until his recent promotion to Deputy of the Cicero Police Department’s Patrol Division, Vince worked nearly his entire career in the service of the Gang Crimes Tactical Unit. Before becoming Commander of the Gang Crimes Tactical Unit, Deputy Acevez worked as a Sergeant in the unit, overseeing complex gang-related investigations as well as the development of officers assigned to the unit. Prior to his promotion to Sergeant, Acevez worked as a Gang Officer for twelve years, the highlight of which was receiving the Cicero Police Department Medal of Honor, which is the department’s highest award for bravery in the line of duty.

    Deputy Acevez additionally serves as Chairman of the Cicero P.D. Community Outreach Committee, the Cicero P.D. Wellness Committee, and also serves on the Board of the Town of Cicero Neighborhood Watch Program. Deputy Acevez frequently speaks at public events on behalf of the Cicero Police Department, and regularly gives presentations to other Law Enforcement personnel and civilian audiences on the topic of Street Gang Awareness.

    Deputy Acevez is married and has two beautiful daughters, serves on the board of a local not-for-profit, teaches Spin classes at a local gym. Deputy Acevez received his Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Lewis University.  

    Dr. Meghan Meyer is proud to be a school psychologist of Morton High School District 201 in Cicero, Illinois. She received her bachelor’s degree in psychology at University of Illinois, educational specialist degree at National Louis University and doctorate degree in school psychology/mental health from Loyola University. Meghan has been practicing as a school psychologist for the past eleven years and is dedicated to supporting and advocating for youth and families. Through her work as a school psychologist, she has developed a passion for building trauma-informed schools and communities because she has directly witnessed the significant impact trauma has on the lives of her students. Meghan has extended this work into the community as she serves on board for Youth Crossroads as well as the health and safety committee of the Cicero Community Collaborative. Meghan is personally invigorated to see the spark and momentum build behind trauma and honored to be part of the driving force to create a trauma-informed community.

    Workshop Description: Clinicians will walk away from the workshop with a model for a collaborative approach to improving officer wellness through building a trauma informed police department.  Presenters including a Cicero Police Commander, School Psychologist, and Community Counselor will share their experience of partnering together to address officer mental health and wellness in this urban, immigrant community surrounded by Chicago. The team will walk participants through steps they took to get their foot in the door, lay the groundwork, build relationships, provide mental health trainings, obtain data and establish long term partnerships to improve the mental health of the community and the police officers. The workshop will demonstrate how this grassroots approach has ignited a spark both in the police department and in the community—creating a desire and willingness to become more trauma informed and focus attention on improving mental health. Participants will leave feeling inspired and challenged to consider how they can use their sphere of influence to bring about positive change in their own departments and communities.


    12:00 PM - 1:00 PM - Lunch: is on your own.

    3 Choices
    1:00 PM - 4:00 PM

    Taking the R.E.I.N.S. Of A Sensitive Life: Supporting the Highly Sensitive Person
    Gelana McCloud, MS, LCPC, CCTP, MS in Mental Health Counseling     MS in Human Services; Denise Peters,  MA  Coach/Consultant

    Bio: Gelana is the founder of Lifeline Counseling, Coaching & Consulting in Pekin, IL and author of the R.E.I.N.S System.  She has been trained by, demonstrated competency and listed on Dr. Elaine Aron’s website ( as a trained psychotherapist knowledgeable of highly sensitive people.  Gelana provides psychotherapy and coaching to adults, children and families on a variety of topics including HSP/SPS. Additionally, Gelana provides consultation within educational systems to assist in creating HSP friendly classrooms and programs.

    Denise is a contributor to the R.E.I.N.S System as well as being trained and demonstrated competency by Dr Aron.  She is a Coach/Consultant at Lifeline Holistic  Center providing education and coaching support to adults, children & families. She also provides consultation to educational systems.

    Workshop Description: This workshop introduces the professional to the scientifically proven trait of the highly sensitive person (HSP) otherwise  officially named Sensory Processing Sensitivity.   20% of people in the world are born with the sensitivity processing trait and tend to struggle more with anxiety and depression making up at least 50% of therapeutic caseloads.  The R.E.I.N.S. Systems is introduced as an effective collection of psycho education, personal environment management, self-awareness, HSP specific coping mechanisms, and emotional regulation that helps the sensitive person thrive in an ordinarily overwhelming world.

    Sunday, March 29, 2020
    1:00 pm - 4:00 pm

    Couples Counseling: The Essential Frameworks
    Sara Schwarzbaum, Ed.D, LCPC, LMFT;

    Bio: Sara Schwarzbaum, EdD, LCPC,  LMFT is the founder of Couples Counseling Associates in Chicago where she works with couples who want to improve their relationship. She provides couples counseling consultation, supervision and training for counselors, private practices and agencies. Dr. Schwarzbaum is Professor  Emerita at NEIU, where she was a faculty member in the Counselor Education Department and the Coordinator of its Master's in Family Counseling Program.

    Workshop Description: Couples counseling is a complex and challenging activity even for the most experienced counselors. Counselors who wish to enhance their skills for working with couples have a variety of models to choose from. This workshop will present an overview the most commonly used frameworks for couples counseling, including EFT, Gottman, Imago, Solutions Focused, and psychodynamic models. The advantages and limitations of the major frameworks will also be addressed, along with treatment sequencing and practical interventions derived from the models.

    Sunday, March 29, 2020
    1:00 pm - 4:00 pm

    Conceptualizing and Treating Harm OCD: What Counselors Need to Know
    Donna Mahoney, Ph.D.

    Bio: Donna Mahoney, Ph.D., is a current member of the supervising faculty at the Family Institute/Northwestern University’s online Counseling program. Her clinical work spans almost 30-years, focusing on anxiety disorders. Phobias, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. She taught for 16 years at the Illinois School of Professional Psychology, teaching courses entitled Treatment of Anxiety Disorders, Psychoanalytic Theories and Psychotherapy, Self Psychology, child and adult development, and psychopathology.  Additionally, she served as the Director of Clinical Training for the Clinical Mental Health program for 1 ½ years. She received her Ph.D. in Clinical Social Work from the Institute for Clinical Social Work and advanced training at the Institute for Psychoanalysis.  Among presentations on topics related to anxiety and trauma, she co-presented at the Society for Psychotherapy Integration on an integrative model for PTSD and complex trauma. A version of her published article, “Panic Disorder and Self States: Clinical and Research Illustrations” was presented at the International Conference for the Psychology of the Self. She also has published book reviews and scholarly articles in The Journal of Counseling in Illinois and The Psychoanalytic Social Work Journal where she is on the editorial board.

    Workshop Description: This workshop will address harm obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), a form of OCD that is primarily exhibited by intrusive thoughts, urges, and feelings about behaving in a way that causes harm to oneself or others. Counselors may be alarmed by the content of the harm obsessions because the images and doubts may involve pushing an innocent bystander into traffic or images of loved ones in horrible accidents. But participants will learn that persons with harm OCD are perhaps less likely to commit acts of violence due to the enormous sense of guilt and shame that the thoughts engender. Obsessions about harming are among the most intolerable for sufferers to experience. The focus of the presentation will be on explaining why people have violent and harmful thoughts, why the thoughts are so persistent, and factors related to assessment and diagnosis. Differentiating harm obsessions from suicidal/homicidal ideation, impulse control problems, and personality disturbances will also be included, along with ethical concerns that counselors need to consider. Counseling interventions will revolve around identifying and modifying common cognitive distortions, utilizing Exposure and Response Prevention (ER/P) strategies, and creating and using acceptance and motivation scripts. Ways for counselors to gain comfort in utilizing these behavioral strategies will be explored. The counselor’s need to examine the role of shame associated with OCD in the therapy is also discussed. Finally, ways to prevent symptom relapse are explored.

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FEIN 27-4540336


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+1 (815) 787-0515

P.O. Box 706
DeKalb, IL 60115

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