Illinois Mental Health Counselors


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Annual Conference Sunday - 6 CEs Member Special Various Presenters

  • August 30, 2020
  • 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM
  • DoubleTree Hilton Skokie, 9599 Skokie Blvd, Skokie, IL 60077


  • Attend all three days of the IMHCA Annual Conference at a discounted rate for members!
  • Attend all three days of the IMHCA Annual Conference at a discounted rate for members!


IMHCA Annual Conference - Sunday
Sunday - August 30, 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. Call 800-222-8733 to make reservations.

2 Choices

Sunday, August 30, 2020
9:00 am - 12:00 pm

Room A - Lower Level Versailles Ballroom

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


Workshop Description: 

With Illinois legalizing 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, August 30, 2020

9:00 am - 12:00 pm
Room B
12th Floor
Monaco Ballroom

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 of 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.

2 Choices
1:00 PM - 4:00 PM
Room A
Lower Level
Versailles Ballroom

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 Arona’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, August 30, 2020

1:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Room B
12th Floor
Monaco Ballroom

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

Bio: Donna Mahoney, PhD., 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 1½ years. She received her PhD 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.

Contact Us
+1 (815) 787-0515

P.O. Box 706
DeKalb, IL 60115

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