These professional development workshops are designed to enable participants who provide support services for adults with developmental disabilities to become familiar with new concepts, revisit old concepts, strengthen teamwork and leadership skills, and create an organizational culture of shared staff responsibility, mutual respect, and enhanced communication. Participants will gain knowledge and learn research-based strategies to increase meaningful communication with peers, strengthen relationships with consumers, and implement a curriculum created to engage consumers in authentic learning activities. The long-term goals of the workshops are to strengthen staff working relationships, increase consumer satisfaction, increase safety for both consumers and staff, increase job satisfaction, increase stakeholder satisfaction with the organization and to develop an innovative, fun, relevant program for individuals in care. A final goal is to provide staff with skills for effective self-reflection, and to help providers manage emotions and stress to increase resilience and productivity.

Teamwork and Leadership

The focus of the workshop will be on options for increasing staff collaboration, problem solving, and decision making. The workshop includes research-based skills and leadership strategies that enhance staff relationships and enable productivity in teamwork situations. Another primary goal of the workshop will be to discuss and practice a six-step collaborative problem solving process to use to brainstorm, implement a plan to address consumer issues, and prevent future problems. Developing positive, caring relationships with consumers, teaching alternative behaviors, and recognizing teaching and learning opportunities will be addressed.  Additionally, this workshop will explore the challenge of incorporating new techniques and strategies into an existing program serving individuals with developmental disabilities.  Change is difficult for almost everyone. Methods for introducing and sustaining program changes will be discussed.

Support and Meaningful Participation

The purpose of this workshop is to describe methods to create an emotionally safe, cohesive, and caring environment and ensure that all consumers are actively engaged in meaningful activity. Brain research will be discussed related to principles to enhance learning, techniques for applying those principles on a daily basis, and concepts such as respect and tolerance will be reviewed. Specific skills and strategies will be introduced related to staff working together in a spirit of trust and mutual respect while developing a positive organizational culture.  A new curriculum will be discussed that is designed to increase opportunities for consumers to engage in relevant, authentic, and worthwhile activities, and practical ideas for implementing the curriculum will be explored.  The workshop will provide staff with research-based methods to create an organized, comfortable, and productive learning community within their organizations.

Stress Management

This workshop is designed to teach concepts and research-based techniques that staff can use to neutralize stress, increase clarity, make smarter decisions, and improve relationships and communication with peers and consumers.  Participants will learn methods that can be used in everyday situations to help transform their physiological responses to stress. In addition, these techniques may be adapted by staff and taught to consumers to help them regulate their emotions and cope with situations that trigger negative emotions. The recommended technology that accompanies the workshop provide staff (and consumers) with opportunities to enhance and practice techniques and tools, monitor their physical response to various situations, and increase resilience to everyday stresses. The organization behind the program is the Institute of HeartMath. HeartMath carries out research in areas such as emotional physiology, heart-brain interactions, and the physiology of learning and performance.

These workshops are also available for providers in other settings (e.g., treatment facilities for youth, hospitals).