Skip to main content

Erie County Training Collaborative

The Erie County Department of Mental Health is delighted to host a monthly training series for anyone working in the system of care addressing mental health, substance use and intellectual/developmental disabilities. 

The Department has been working with representatives from the mental health, substance use and intellectual/developmental disability provider communities to identify opportunities to support agencies, staff and support the retention of staff who deliver vital services.

Mark your calendar for 2024! Trainings will usually take place the 4th Tuesday of each month from 12PM to 1PM.  All sessions will take place in an online forum.

This is a true community collaborative and we are always looking for presenters to volunteer to share their expertise with our community!

Upcoming Sessions

Check here often for upcoming sessions!


Please share the training offerings with others in your organization and those who work in our Systems of Care!


Presentations and Materials from Past Sessions:

May 28, 2024 - “Dark Side of Social Media”
Presented by:   Ashley Gedra, Face2Face Program Coordinator, Kids Escaping Drugs

The Dark Side of Social Media presentation provides adult audiences an in depth look at current popular social media trends and how they can escalate substance use and abuse among adolescents. This is a landscape that is constantly changing and evolving with technology and access. Topics will include current popular social media apps, impact those apps have on a developing mind, dangers on those apps, tricks or vaults used to hide apps, live streaming and the dangers, ghost apps, the dark web, and online marketing.

April 23, 2024 - “The Art of Advocacy”
Presented by:  BJ Stasio, Advocate and Max Donatelli, Advocate

There is a real need for more effective advocates.  Many people with disabilities and mental health challenges and caring family members don’t know where to start, are overwhelmed, fearful, or ineffective, etc.  Helping people find their voice is a key element of what we are hoping to accomplish.  We don’t have enough effective advocates to build connections with elected officials, business types, and people in healthcare.

March 26, 2024 - "IDD and Multiple Diagnoses"
Presented by:  Amy Peters, MS, Chief Strategic Officer, Person Centered Services

A discussion regarding the issues surrounding people with developmental disabilities who have multiple diagnoses.  Strategies and tips for advocating for people with developmental disabilities while seeking treatment will also be discussed.

  • Presentation
  • Watch Video
    Due to some technical difficulties, the presentation was delayed and does not begin until approx. 1 minute into the video.

January 9, 2024 - “Anxiety and Panic Disorders”
Presented by:  Mark O’Brien, LCSW-R, Commissioner Erie County Department of Mental Health

Understanding and coping with anxiety and panic disorders including common causes, signs and symptoms, and effective treatments.   

November 28, 2023 - “Preparing for Preparedness”
Presented by:  Sarah A. Bonk, LMSW, Emergency Response and Disaster Coordinator for the Erie County Department of Mental Health

A conversation that explores how service providers of all disciplines can empower not only themselves but the larger community.  Leaning on the tenets of psychoeducation, Sarah will discuss effective intervention techniques that are useful in engaging individuals experiencing a range of emergencies, as well as introduce the importance of service providers of all levels in how to help mitigate the impacts of a disaster.  This training will expose attendees to the world of emergency management and articulate how the every day role of service providers plays a part in long term resilience.   

September 26, 2023 - “Understanding Alzheimer's and Dementia” 
Presented by:  Claire Corwin, LMSW, Alzheimer's Association WNY

Learn basic information on the difference between Alzheimer's and dementia, stages, risk factors, research and FDA-approved treatments. Questions are welcomed during and after the program. 

July 25, 2023 - “A Community Approach to Improving Minority Mental Health”
Presented by:  Kelly Marie Wofford, Director of the Erie County Office of Health Equity.

Kelly Marie Wofford is the Director of the Erie County Office of Health Equity. Using her mental health journey as a guide for the discussion, participants will walk away with a better understanding around three concepts: no group is a monolith, we are all "community," and we are all needed to do this work. 

June 29, 2023 - Special Offering!  "CQI 101"
Presented by:  Christa Foschio-Bebak, JD MSW is the Director of Quality Improvement & Training at CCNY Inc. CCNY provides a comprehensive spectrum of services that range from data evaluation and analytics to quality improvement and training.

This training offers an overview of the fundamentals of implementing quality improvement. Emphasis will be placed on understanding the difference between quality assurance and quality improvement, the importance of identifying and monitoring relevant and meaningful outcome measures along with providing examples of how to use specific QI tools and templates in order to develop and execute a quality improvement plan. Opportunities for discussion will be available throughout the session.

June 20, 2023 “Cultural Humility & Gender-Affirming Care 101”
Presented by:  Jennifer Loughran (she/her/hers), LMSW, Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, & Belonging, Horizon Health Alliance

In recognition of Pride Month, this training will provide an overview of cultural humility and gender-affirming care. In addition to reviewing some common terminology central to the LGBTQIA+ community, this training will also discuss some barriers and challenges faced by those who part of the community, share about the positive impact of providing gender-affirming care, and provide some best practices on how to provide gender-affirming care.

May 23, 2023 "Self-Care: The Mind Body Connection"
Presented by:  Melinda DuBois, MSW, Executive Director of Mental Health Advocates

How often do you take the time to practice your own self-care? Right now, rates of depression and anxiety have increased dramatically, and most of us are struggling. When it comes to wellness, we often think of the physical first, mental second, while the opposite is actually true. Studies have shown that one’s mental health can directly affect a person’s physical well-being. Learn about the stress cycle, meditation and mindfulness, and strategies to take care of yourself. Dedicate this hour out of your busy day to take care of yourself.

April 25, 2023 "Barriers to Reentry"  (2 of the 2 trainings offered in April)
Presented by:  Julianna Everdyke, LMSWErie County Department of Mental Health, Director of Dual Recovery and Community Integration; Lindsey Allen, MSW Peaceprints of WNY, Director of Community Programs: Project Blue & Empower Youth; Sherene Bennett, Erie County Service Link Stop Director; and Tanya Drake, Erie County Reentry Taskforce Coordinator

April is Second Chance Month! Second Chance Month is nationally recognized and aims to highlight the opportunities and resources available to support successful reentry. Each year, more than 600,000 people are released from federal and state prisons, and most will encounter barriers once they are no longer physically incarcerated. Reentry and reintegration barriers span various avenues of health, mental health, housing, employment, family, faith, food insecurity, and many others that prevent access to basic needs. This training will focus on barriers that formerly incarcerated individuals face when returning to their communities. We will discuss what some of the most seen barriers are, “collateral consequences” that can last years after release, and what programs/initiatives are working to mitigate them.

April 12, 2023:  "Making a Care Management SPOA Referral"  (1 of the 2 trainings offered in April)
Presented by:  Andrea Tobias, BS, Assistant Coordinator II SPOA, Erie County Department of Mental Health

This training will discuss the basics of completing a referral for care management through SPOA. We will go over how to properly fill out consents, and important points to consider in order to have a complete and accurate referral. Information on the different levels of service, the process of assigning a referral, and what happens after a referral is assigned will also be included. We will have a question and answer session at the end of the training.

March 28, 2023:  "Developing Your Therapeutic Style: The Art of Talk Therapy"  
Presented by:  Christopher Frigon, LCSW, Senior Therapist from Horizon Health Services

Drawing from traditional as well as informal sources helps those in the helping fields to stay fresh, relevant, and most importantly curious about the work we do and how our roles help others. Development of professional style is a commitment to career growth that has helped him to stay as passionate and caring about talk therapy today, as he was 25 years ago. The focus this conversation will be exploring the art of talk therapy through inversion of common social clichés designed to get clients unstuck and make your work that much more interesting and rewarding.

February 28, 2023:  "Prevalent Drugs Used in WNY"
Presented by:  Emma Fabian, MSW, Associate Vice President of harm reduction at Evergreen Health and part-time instructor at the UB School of Social Work

This training will discuss the most prevalent illicit and licit drugs used in WNY: Heroin, Fentanyl, Benzodiazepines, Crystal Methamphetamine, Cocaine, and more. Factual information about these substances as well as reasons why people use them (information was gathered confidentially from people who use drugs) will be covered. Harm Reduction calls us to understand that people have reasons for their behavior, including using drugs. Knowing the effects and benefits people get from using can help us tailor interventions that meet their needs.

December 20, 2022: "Mobile and Online Sports Betting"
Presented by:  Jeffrey Wierzbicki, Western Team Leader, Western Problem Gambling Resource Center

Online sports betting was launched in New York State in January 2022. This training will discuss what Mobile sports betting is and how it works. It will also cover the risks, risks specific to young people, and if there is a connection to substance use. In addition we will talk about the impact on families, if this is the same as other types of gambling, and how to recognize problem sports betting.

November 29, 2022:  VA S.A.V.E Suicide Gatekeeper Training
Presented by:  Christopher Ramnauth, LCSW, Community Engagement and Partnership Coordinator, Suicide Prevention at the VA WNY Healthcare System

Christopher Ramnauth, LCSW (VA WNY Healthcare System) will facilitate S.A.V.E., which is a VA Suicide Prevention Gatekeeper Training.  This training consists of the following components; brief overview of suicide in the veteran population, suicide myths and misinformation, risk factors for suicide, the S.A.V.E. model (Signs of suicide, Asking about suicide, Validating feelings, Encouraging help and Expediting treatment) and VA resources for mental health support.

September 27, 2022:   Trauma 101"
Presented by:  Ted Adams

This training will cover the general principles of Trauma-Informed Care and how these principles apply to the work that you do.

July 26, 2022:  "Adult Single Point of Access and Accountability for Housing"
Presented by:  Christine Slocum, MA, Erie County Department of Mental Health, Housing Coordinator, Adult Single Point of Access and Accountability

The Erie County Department of Mental Health coordinates the County’s Single Point of Access and Accountability for all mental health residential programs. In this training, the SPOA Housing Coordinator will discuss eligibility, what types of housing programs are available, and how to do the SPOA referral on

June 28, 2022:  "Utilizing Existential Therapy and Enhanced Meaning/Purpose in Life as Treatment for Mental Health and Substance Abuse Disorders"
Presented by:  Timothy E. Arent, M.S., Substance Abuse and Comorbid Mental Health Counselor at the Beacon Center of Central and Western New York

This presentation will discuss the use of Viktor Frankl's logo therapy and other existential treatment modalities in addressing mental health and substance abuse disorders more completely. In conjunction with current evidence-based practices, this presentation will detail how utilizing enhanced subjective meaning/purpose in life, assisting your client in replacing automatic thoughts with healthier alternatives, and achieving an enhanced understanding of your client's worldview can increase treatment efficacy. This webinar will offer theory and practice useful to both those unfamiliar with existential therapy as well as the more experienced practitioner.

May 24, 2022:  "LGBTQ+ Concerns for Youth and Families"
Presented by:  Reverend Susan Frawley

This presentation will address terminology, including pronouns.  We will also be discussing gender and sexuality definitions, educational issues, Allyship, New York State laws, and medical and social issues for transgender youth.

April 26, 2022:  "Harm Reduction Philosophy and Practice"
Presented by:  Emma Fabian, MSW, AVP of Harm Reduction, Evergreen Health and Part-Time Professor, UB School of Social Work and Naomi Taylor, Harm Reduction Specialist, Evergreen Health

This talk will provide an introduction to the principles of the Harm Reduction approach as well as the history of Harm Reduction in public health. Evergreen's continuum of care that includes Harm Reduction programs for people who use drugs will be discussed as well as how to refer patients.

March 22, 2022:  "Problem Gambling 101 - Just the Basics"
Presented by:  Jeffrey Wierzbicki, Team Leader with the Western Problem Gambling Resource Center

March is Problem Gambling Awareness Month. Topics to be covered in this training will include: types of gambling, emerging trends, spectrum of gambling behaviors, warning signs of problem gambling, co-occurring mental health and substance use, at-risk populations and how to get help. The CASAC and Social Work Continuing Education credits are not available for the recorded session. 

February 2022:  “Cluster B Personality Types, the Dramatic-Erratic Group - Overview and Focus on Borderline Personality”
Presented by:  Christopher Frigon, LCSW, Senior Therapist from Horizon Health Services

The DSM groups Antisocial, Histrionic, Borderline, and Narcissistic personality types together based on differentiation from Cluster A (odd-eccentric) and Cluster C (anxious-fearful).  We will overview Cluster B personality types, and focus on Borderline Personality due to the high clinical prevalence and generally higher risk this population presents with.

January 2022:  "Aging and Mental Health - Climbing a Mountain of Stigma"
Presented by:  Heidi Billittier, LMSW, Director of Older Adult Services at Compeer and Janelle Thiessen, LMSW, Jewish Federation Apartments Service Coordinator

This interactive discussion will touch upon stigma associated with mental health and aging in our communities.  We will discuss barriers to mental health services and ways in which we might address those barriers in the context of our personal and professional lives. We will introduce the “Reframing Aging” initiative and facilitate a conversation around aging and purpose. We believe strongly that older age is not about losing one’s value, but rather that the opposite is true. It is up to all of us to help shift that mindset.

November 2021: The Drama Triangle and Communicating with People with Personality Disorders”
Presented by:  Christopher Frigon, Senior Therapist from Horizon Health Services

Working with difficult personalities in therapy presents many challenges for clinicians.  This training is designed to present the concept of the Drama Triangle as a map to begin understanding how to communicate professionally and effectively with individuals, couples, and family systems struggling with features of personality disorders.

October 2021:  "Co-Occurring Disorders Part II - Building Clinical Competencies to Provide Integrated Care”
Presented by:  Lindsey Rickard, LMHC, Vice President of Training and Innovation and Catherine Maloney, LMHC, Director of Training and Innovation from BestSelf Behavioral Health

This training will start with a brief review of co-occurring disorders, integrated care, and common barriers to providing care to co-occurring disorders. We will then move into a review of 5 competencies needed by clinicians to provide the best integrated care for co-occurring disorders and examples of how to provide training and support in identified competency areas. 

September 2021:  "The Impact of Domestic Violence on Children's Brain Development"
Presented by:  Peter S. Martin, MD, MPH, Director of the Division of Community Psychiatry and Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, University at Buffalo

There are numerous deleterious effects that growing up in a violent and/or neglectful household can have on the development of youth.  In this presentation, there will be an overview of different regions of the brain that are negatively changed as a result of this exposure.  There will be an explanation of typical functioning of these various brain regions.  Subsequently, there will be an exploration of how these specifics changes in these areas as a result of exposure to violence can impact the functioning of youths, with different impacts depending on the stage of development.

August 2021:  "Adapting to Our New Normal"
Presented by:  Esther Kaul, LMHC, and Lana Lal, LMHC, they are both Clinical Supervisors in the Counseling Services program at Child & Family Services

The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted our daily lives and our “business as usual” mentality which has forced us to make so many adjustments in our personal and professional lives.  These adjustments impacted us emotionally, physically, and mentally. Please join us to discuss and explore how to successfully transition out of the pandemic and create new routines, all while developing a new normal for ourselves, our families and the individuals we serve.  Our goal is to discuss the residual effects of the pandemic on providers as well as explore strategies for healthy coping and management. 

July 2021:  "Co-Occurring Disorders: Prevalence, Challenges and Strategies"
Presented by:  Jillian Warner-Dombrowski (MS, Master CASAC, Ph.D. Candidate), Co-Occurring Disorders Supervising Counselor at Transitional Services, Inc.

Jillian Warner-Dombrowski (MS, Master CASAC, Ph.D. Candidate), Co-Occurring Disorders Supervising Counselor at Transitional Services, Inc. reviews information on co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders. This training includes current research about the prevalence of co-occurring disorders in behavioral health treatment settings. Commonly encountered disorders are briefly presented. Challenges with assessing co-occurring disorders, along with strategies for addressing identified challenges with clients are discussed. Finally, best practice strategies for providing services to individuals with co-occurring disorders are summarized.

June 2021:  “Lethal Means Reduction: The “How” of Suicide Prevention that Makes a Difference"
Presented by:  Celia Spacone, Ph.D., Coordinator, Erie County Suicide Prevention Coalition and Katie Coric, LCSW, Suicide Prevention Coordinator, Veterans Administration WNY Healthcare System

Katie Coric, LCSW (VA WNY Healthcare System, Suicide Prevention Coordinator) and Celia Spacone, Ph.D. (Erie County Suicide Prevention Coalition Coordinator) review the latest information on suicide in Erie County and nationally with a focus on veterans, a particularly high-risk group. They describe the philosophy of ‘means reduction’ which focuses on the method one chooses to attempt to end one’s life. By working with clients to reduce access to the most lethal means as a part of safety planning, a reduction in the number of deaths by suicide is possible. Applications of this model and resources are discussed.

April 2021 (Part 1) & May 2021 (Part 2):  "Understanding Vicarious Trauma… The Road to Resilience” 
Presented by:  Dr. Kirsten Vincent, CEO of Recovery Options Made Easy

Choosing a career in a helping profession is an honorable decision and often those who choose it, bear the burden of other people’s trauma. Hearing trauma survivor's stories and witnessing traumatic events firsthand can affect advocates, health care professionals, police officers, lawyers, therapists, peers and others; it's called "vicarious trauma," and it can have a variety of negative effects. The toll of witnessing intense human experiences  and emotions can contribute to a negative transformation of a helper’s own sense of safety, and of being competent and purposeful. This workshop provides participants with the opportunity to examine their own experiences and become aware of the signs of both vicarious trauma and vicarious growth. Participants will have the opportunity to develop a personalized plan to repair negative effects, as well as, accelerate their resilience. 

March 2021:  "Clinical Education Training with a focus on Anxiety"
Presented by:  Dr. Rose Hazlitt, Psy.D. and Dr. Michael Cummings, MD. 
They presented a case study and lead a community conversation about anxiety. Participants walked away with a deeper understanding of how to support people who experience anxiety and had an opportunity to share strategies of their own that have been successful. 

January 2021 (Part I) & February 2021 (Part II):  "Working with Survivors of Abuse"
Presented by:  Mark O'Brien, LCSW-R, ACSW, Commissioner of the Erie County Department of Health

Mark shared his knowledge and insight in working with survivors of abuse; primarily sexual abuse, but also touched on physical and emotional abuse. This training is appropriate for anyone who is working with survivors of abuse and was not limited to just clinical staff.