Life and Death: such fundamentally important phenomena, but under-represented in professional publications, teaching, supervision. This conference will review the theoretical and empirical literature about the epidemiology, neurobiology, biopsychoimmunology, and individual and interpersonal psychodynamics of relational loss and grief. We will discuss the diagnosis of pathological grief reactions and the incidence of grief-related mood and psychotic disorders. Also, a description of individuals at different stages of development, as well as various preventive and therapeutic intervention. In addition to this more academic content, our speakers will strive to be as personal as they are professional, to speak to heart as well as mind. More than just a lack of knowledge, there is a fundamental discomfort in dealing with situations associated with mortality; clinical responsiveness and attunement are frequently compromised. Walking out of this conference, we hope you will feel more aware, better prepared, more therapeutically sensitive.
Thank you to our sponsors! Please click on the company names below to learn more about these organizations dedicated to helping health professionals. And be sure to stop by their table at the conference.
Jonathan Quek, PhD, a psychologist in private practice, gained another “graduate degree” in grief and grieving not by choice but by tragic circumstance when he lost his 25 year old son, Michael, to cancer in 2006. Michael was a doctoral student in psychology researching attachment and intimacy at McGill University when he died. To honor his legacy, Jonathan is now engaged in supporting other grieving parents through The Compassionate Friends, and specializing working with couples using Emotionally Focused Therapy in his practice. His journey of grief led him to grapple with trauma, shame, and spiritual crisis, and to experience first hand the transforming power of mindful willingness, detachment, and self-compassion.
Ben Green, MD. Early on, my childhood family experienced both death, and then depression; no surprise that I ended up with a mental health career. My education and clinical work as an adult and child psychiatrist, and then as a psychoanalyst, has taught me much, but overlooked much as well. The discrepancies between conventional thinking and my own therapy experiences led me to a sustained study of Attachment Theory and Relational Psychoanalysis. More recently, dealing with the sudden death of my young adult daughter in 2013, I was made aware of other aspects of my ignorance, and insensitivities. Preparing for this conference has challenged me to fill in some of these gaps— and I hope it will do the same for those of you who choose to join us.
Brook Griese, Ph.D., Judi’s House/JAG Institute Co-Founder and CEO. At the age of 11, I decided to become a child psychologist. My mother was a psychiatric nurse, and my father the director of social services, so I was acutely aware of the profound impact of loss, trauma, and adversity for many members of our small, rural community. Seeing childhood friends struggle without access to resources or appropriate care drew me to the study of prevention, intervention, and resilience, and a Ph. D. in clinical psychology. A first date conversation with my husband, Brian, led to our 2002 co-founding of Judi’s House in memory of his mother who died when he was 12. Judi’s House provides free, comprehensive care to bereaved children and their caregivers, while research and training initiatives at JAG Institute focus on sharing knowledge and resources to ensure that youth and families in any community can access effective grief care.
Micki Burns, Ph.D. Judi’s House/JAG Institute Chief Clinical Officer. The youngest in a family of 10, I spent my childhood observing relationships and behaviors. I knew at an early age that I wanted to be a helper, but my life experiences clarified what that would look like. The senseless murder of a close friend when I was 17 had a tremendous impact on my decision to focus my education on disenfranchised populations. I received my doctorate in counseling psychology in 2003 and worked in community mental health for 10 years. In coming to Judi’s House 5 years ago, I’ve found a home that recognizes and celebrates the strength and struggle of families experiencing many types of loss.
Adam Burstein, DO took a non-traditional path to a career in medicine. He earned a BS in Civil Engineering from Tufts University and subsequently served four years active duty in the US Army as an engineer officer. Afterwards, he worked as a business consultant in Washington DC, at the Pentagon and various other DOD agencies. It was then that he decided to pursue a career in child psychiatry. Working as a mental health tech at the old Children’s Hospital during his application year, Dr. Burstein had always hoped to return to the Denver area. He attended NY College of Osteopathic Medicine and was thrilled to return to Colorado to complete his residency and fellowship at University of Colorado Hospital and Children’s Hospital.
He is the current CCAPS President after serving five years on the Executive Committee and works primarily in his private practice. He is passionate about integrating mental health with primary care. Over the last year, he has partnered with Stapleton Pediatrics to build an integrated care model.
Only recently did Dr. Burstein become absorbed in the topic of grief and loss after the death of his brother. He proposed the topic with hopes of raising awareness, educating others and providing some context to feel more comfortable talking about one of the most difficult, yet universal topics. In addition, it is his hope to remind colleagues of the importance of continually doing our own work – for our own benefit and that of our patients, families and friends.
Bob Flory, M.Div., Chaplain is a native of Denver, CO. Bob and graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School in 1972. He left Colorado to attend Azusa Pacific University in the LA metro area. Graduating from APU he began his seminary studies at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, CA. After graduating he moved to Seattle Washington to be the Youth Minister at Mercer Island Presbyterian Church. Bob was Ordained in the Presbyterian Church (USA) in 1981 and his first parish was in Galesburg, Illinois. In 1986 he moved to Minneapolis MN to specialize in hospital chaplaincy. He became the Director of Pastoral Care at Minneapolis Children’s Hospital before returning to Denver in 1997 to become the Director of Spiritual Care at Children’s Hospital Colorado. This year marked his 20th anniversary of working at Children’s. When Bob is not working, he enjoys bicycling, running, hiking in the out of doors. He has 3 dogs and 2 cats. He enjoys playing the hammered dulcimer and attends many music festivals throughout the country. He enjoys his get away time at his cabin in Grand Lake, CO.
Claire Zilber, MD, is a Board Certified psychiatrist in private practice in Denver, Colorado. She specializes in combining psychopharmacology with eclectic, psychodynamically informed psychotherapy to treat anxiety and mood disorders, improve adaptation to chronic illness including HIV/AIDS, and address problems with identity and unresolved grief. She has been chair of the Colorado Psychiatric Society’s Ethics Committee since 2003, and is a corresponding member of the APA Ethics Committee. She writes a quarterly ethics column for the CPS newsletter, and a monthly column for Psychiatric News. She is on the faculty of the PROBE Program, an educational intervention in ethics for licensed health care professionals who have made an ethical misstep in their practice. She received her medical training at Jefferson Medical College and did her residency at the University of Colorado. She completed a two-year course in psychodynamic psychotherapy at the Denver Institute for Psychoanalysis.
Dr. Zilber recently published Living in Limbo: Creating Structure and Peace When Someone You Love Is Ill with co-author Laura Michaels, MA. JD. Written for the many people who feel trapped in a state of limbo while they shepherd a loved one through a period of illness, this book weaves together a personal story and a clinical perspective, combining individual experience with professional insight. The story centers on Ms. Michael's first-person account of the process of learning about and responding to her husband’s grim medical diagnosis, and wisdom learned along the way. Dr. Zilber’s accompanying psychiatric and philosophical commentary provides an intellectual framework for the adaptation strategies offered in the story, incorporating elements of psychodynamic, cognitive-behavioral and mindfulness-based therapies.
Joan Heron, LCSW describes herself as a “newcomer” to the world of grief and loss until “suddenly, it became my whole life in catastrophic and unimaginable ways.” Having lost two immediate family members within three years, Joan says “nothing in my life prepared me for this.” Joan credits the experience of mindfulness, literary references of every kind and the love and support of family and close friends for her survival and growth. She will elaborate on the experiences of a grief journey of “the shattered self.” Joan is Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and an adult trained psychoanalyst. She is currently affiliated with Camp Erin, a grief camp offered for children, ages 7-17, offered through The Moyer Foundation. This camp and The Moyer Foundation was featured in the HBO documentary, “One Last Hug.” She is also involved with the Suicide Prevention Coalition of Colorado (SPCC) and the Hope Coalition in Boulder. The Hope Coalition supports depression awareness and suicide prevention in Boulder County.