34th Annual Wellness Conference March 30-31

By: Lisa S. Icenogle

The 34th Annual Casper College Wellness Conference will be held March 30-31 in the Walter H. Nolte Gateway Center, Room 225. Thursday’s sessions are free and open to the public, and no registration is required. Friday’s session and workshop have a registration fee and require preregistration.

Hosted and organized by the Casper College Wellness Center, this year’s conference will examine various wellness topics. Presentations will begin Thursday and Friday at 9 a.m. and start at 1 p.m.

“Casper College’s Annual Wellness Conference is a wonderful way for community members and providers to network, expand their knowledge, and get exposed to some of the most current topics,” said Erin Ford, director of counseling. “This year, we are excited to have a variety of presenters covering diversity, current events, and experiential practices that will challenge our thinking and bring greater creativity to our work,” Ford added.

On Thursday, four sessions will be held. Kristina Pham, M.S., Casper College psychology instructor, presents the first at 9 a.m. Titled “Opposite Genders Don’t Exist,” Pham’s presentation … “will begin with an explanation of why thinking of biological sex in the binary is harmful, discuss gender as an expression of personality, and finally, will offer ways to be a good ally as a person and professional.” According to Pham, many people believe that biological sex is binary: either you’re male, or you’re female. “But as with many binaries, things are more complicated than they seem,” she said.

The second session, “Working with Seniors — The Final Frontier,” will begin at 10:30 a.m. The presentation will discuss the importance of working with seniors, settings where helpers might work with them, access to health care, challenges that may arise, and essential facts and statistics to consider when working with seniors. “Aging is a natural process that may present challenges for some individuals and their families. All adults may experience health issues and stress as they age, and the support of a therapist or other mental health professional may help ease the transition,” noted presenter Lisa Thomas, licensed clinical social worker.

From 1-2:20 p.m., Emma Burton-Hopkins, MHE and certified health education specialist, will present “Wellness and Sexual Health: Intersections and Decision Making.” Her presentation will focus on the relationship between wellness and sexual health, the factors associated with risk, and access to care. “I will also elaborate on distinctions between wellness and sexual health decisions to bring participants an informed approach on this challenging topic,” she said. “Sexual health is an integral part of living an authentic life, and it requires a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships,” said Burton-Hopkins.

The final session on Thursday will begin at 2:30 p.m. and will be presented by Brenda Evans, M.Ed. According to Evans, every society has music associated with all aspects of human behavior and emotions. “Attendees will learn about the history of each instrument as we add it to our circle, how drum circles have been used traditionally and in contexts such as company team building, improving communication, and therapeutic interventions,” Evans said. As part of the session, participants may also engage in creative expression through experiential practices within the drum circle.

The Friday sessions are designed for mental health professionals, according to Ford. The cost for both sessions is $30 and includes three ethics continuing education units. Preregistration is required to attend the two sessions.

The first session will begin at 10:30 a.m. Grace Shearrer, Ph.D., will present “Beyond Anorexia: Rethinking Eating Disorders.” Eating disorders are typically put into one of two columns: anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa. But, according to Shearrer, eating disorders go beyond anorexia and bulimia. “We will examine the less overt but still present disordered eating, including binge eating disorder, orthorexia, restrictive eating, and eating competence. We will also consider socio-economic underpinnings of restrictive eating,” she said.

Beginning at 1 p.m John Ordiway, Casper College psychology instructor, M.S., licensed practical counselor, and licensed addiction therapist, will co-present with Diana Quealy-Berge, Ph.D., LPC, LAT, and former Casper College addictionology instructor. Their workshop titled, “America’s Mass Murder Epidemic and Ethical implications for Mental Health Professionals”… “will focus on the need to develop a sound assessment for red flag laws, the ethical implications of enforcement of red flag laws and examining patient’s rights vs. community safety,” they said. “With the continued increase in mass murder in the U.S., more states are looking at passing red flag laws to help stem the tide of mass shooting events,” they noted.

Preregistration for the Friday presentation and workshop is required, and the registration deadline is Thursday, March 30.

According to Ford, each attendee is responsible for their own lunch, but refreshments will be provided throughout the conference.

A complete schedule for both days can be found here. A total of 12 CEUs are available to earn. For more information, contact Ford at 307-268-2255 or erin.ford@caspercollege.edu. The Walter H. Nolte Gateway Center is located on the Casper College Campus.

This year’s wellness conference is sponsored by the Natrona County Suicide Prevention Task Force; True Care Women’s Resource Center; Wyoming Behavioral Institute; Pro-Choice Wyoming Education Project; the University of Wyoming College of Health Sciences, Division of Social Work; and Casper College.

Media contact: Lisa S. Icenogle

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