Sessions & Tracks

Handouts for some of the conference sessions are now posted.

Friday Sessions

Friday's programming offers support group leaders and members general and breakout educational sessions on ways to enhance their chapters or peer-led support groups. During the course of the day, you can choose from several breakout topics, affording you the opportunity to participate in three of the following presentations:

  • Helping Participants and Chapter Leaders Set Boundaries
  • What to do when your chapter faces it’s personal form of kryptonite (scenarios)
  • Handling Difficult Situations 
  • Facilitating More Effectively (proactive planning)
  • Growing Your Chapter (strength in numbers)
  • What does a board of directors do? Why are they important? How to Train Your Board
  • Simple Fundraising Solutions (ex. dinner fundraiser)
  • Partnering with Professionals (how we help them and how they help us)
  • Introducing and How You Can Use It in Your Chapter
  • Educational Sessions as a Way to Connect to Your Community
Visit the Chapter Leadership Forum page for detailed information about session descriptions, presenters, and times.

Saturday Sessions

Because we believe so strongly that everyone wins when clinicians and researchers work with, not on, individuals, DBSA has partnered with the International Society for Bipolar Disorders (ISBD) on this exciting day of programming at their International Conference on Bipolar Disorders.

What does this mean for you? You become an active voice in shaping how partnership can become the norm rather than the exception by sharing the lived perspective with leading clinicians and researches from across the globe. Share the challenges and successes of working with your clinicians or considering participation in research studies and brainstorm with some of the world's leading experts in the field of mental health. We have much to learn from and teach each other!

Saturday's programming offers two tracks, one for individuals interested in fostering collaboration between consumers and mental health practitioners, and an alternate track that focuses on fostering collaboration between researchers and participants. The goal for each is to assist in finding ways for increased collaboration to advance treatment and care.

The day will also feature an interactive brainstorming lunch presentation; a performance by Victoria Maxwell of her new show, That's Just Crazy Talk, followed by a presentation of results from an international research project that studied the effects of Ms. Maxwell's show on reducing stigma; and an inspirational keynote presentation from Congressman Patrick Kennedy.

Sunday Sessions

Sunday's programming is specifically focused on exploring strength-based wellness strategies. In 2012, DBSA conducted an online survey asking our constituents which topics they were most interested in exploring at the 2013 conference. The following topics were ranked highest, and, as such, have been selected as Sunday's educational breakout sessions. During the course of the day, you can choose from several breakout topics, affording you the opportunity to participate in four of the following presentations, in addition to our two inspiring keynote presentations.

Better at Work

Victoria Maxwell

Mood disorders can have a negative impact on individuals’ performance at, or ability to maintain, work. This session will explore practical steps to enhance your ability to focus, stay on-task, and perform at peak capacity in your position.

Your Guide to Health Reform

Rebecca Farley

You’ve probably been hearing a lot in the media lately about all the changes ahead under health reform. But wait—what were all those changes, again? How will they affect you? This interactive and engaging crash course will teach you everything you need to know about what the Affordable Care Act does and doesn’t do. You’ll get a user-friendly perspective on the basics of the law—from what will happen to your current health insurance plan, to how mental health services will be covered, and more! This session is appropriate for conference attendees who want a refresher on what’s in the health reform law and its impact on healthcare consumers.

Getting in the Rhythm

Holly A. Swartz, M.D.

Maintaining a strict routine is an often-mentioned and often undervalued component of treatment. This session will explore Interpersonal Social Rhythm Therapy and the profound, positive effects this routine-based therapy can have on individuals living with depression or bipolar disorder.

Channeling Creativity

Barry Shainbaum

A correlation between mood disorders and creativity clearly exists. In what ways do the arts help people with mood disorders to express themselves, and how can that expression be part of healing? This session will look at the role of creativity in the lives of people who have mood disorders, from famous professional artists to laypeople who may use the arts in a therapeutic context.

Practicing Mindfulness

Carl Fulwiler, M.D., Ph.D.

Often, people with mood disorders might perceive their minds as betrayers, but our minds can and should be powerful allies! This session will explore how to utilize mindfulness as a tool to find peace and improved mental, physical, and emotional health.

Love vs. Mania

Beth Haase, M.D.

People living with bipolar disorder feel euphoric connectedness and high sex drive as part of hypomania and mania. These feelings drive sexual behavior, sometimes leading to the thrill of a transformative love relationship and sometimes to the pain of unwanted pregnancies, STDs, infidelity, and relationships that fall apart. In this presentation, we will sort out the difference between romance, love, and the erotic symptoms of bipolar disorder and consider how to decide whether to follow your heart or raise your meds. Consumers who would like to share a story or ask a question privately in advance can email Dr. Beth Haase at

Learned Resilience: Overcoming Setbacks & Negative Self-talk

Melody Moezzi

No one is born resilient. Some of us may enter this world with more or less of a tendency toward resilience, but on the whole, it is a learned trait. The more you fall and get back up, the easier it becomes to do it again. Tackling setbacks and defeating destructive internal dialog are crucial to wellness. They are skills that require tremendous focus and dedication. This session is an opportunity to learn and share tips and strategies on honing these vital skills.

Maximizing Personal Strengths

Priscilla Ridgway

We all possess strengths that can help us towards wellness. This session will help individuals identify their unique strengths and build on them to create personal plans for achieving wellness goals.

Procovery: Looking Forward Not Back

Nancy Bollinger

The idea of recovery looks at how we get back to a previous state of health. But many of us may not have had that healthy past state—or we may want to envision an entirely new reality for ourselves. Procovery is a forward-looking concept in which an individual uses personal strengths and self-directed healing strategies to achieve a new, ideal state in the future. This session will define and explore the procovery movement and suggest ways for applying procovery principles towards our own lives.

Research for a Better Future

John Greden, M.D.

Health burdens, disabilities, costs, and deaths by suicide attributable to depressions and bipolar illnesses remain agonizingly high. Knowledge is rapidly being accumulated but more rapid translation into new treatments is sorely needed. We need innovative research partnerships capable of generating large samples, enthusiasm, huge national registries, and major surges in financial research support. The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) and the National Network of Depression Centers (NNDC) have partnered to create the beginnings of such an effort (WeSearchTogether). This presentation will describe the current state of mental health research, needed future trends, and the ways that we all might choose to be part of creating this new era. Knowledge heals! We must partner to use it.

Concordance: When RX Becomes Collaboration

Gary Sachs, M.D.

Is your treatment plan a prescription or a collaboration? This session will discuss the idea of concordance: clinicians working together with consumers to jointly develop and agree on a treatment plan that addresses the goals and limitations of each individual. In this collaborative care model, the clinician, based on feedback from the patient, identifies a menu of reasonable choices from which the person then selects the course of treatment that best fits with their lifestyle and goals.

Recovery to Practice

Rita Cronise, M.S. and Lisa Goodale, M.S.W

Recovery to Practice (RTP) is a national project created to incorporate the vision of recovery into the everyday practice of mental health professionals in all disciplines. Guided by a national steering committee made up of individuals with diverse life experiences, professional training, and expertise, this initiative brings together what is already known by consumers, practitioners, and researchers to focus the mindset and methods of mental health professions on recovery. This session will explain details about this exciting project and the role peers will have in moving this vision forward.

Peer Roundtables

Each year attendees tell us that some of the best learning they get from our conference is from other attendees. Peer roundtables allow individuals to meet in small groups to share strategies that they have found to be helpful on their wellness journey. Roundtables will be offered to address the specific challenges of bipolar disorder, depression, or issues faced by friends and family members.

Sunday Tracks for Special Interests

Looking for a little help deciding which breakout sessions to attend on Sunday? Here of some ideas for sessions with a primary focus on peer specialist skills, treatment, personal wellness, or life enhancement. Note that while we've placed each of the sessions under a particular focus, many sessions have multiple areas of focus. You'll get the best experience by following your personal interests, so we encourage you to substitute sessions to meet your needs and curiosities.

Peer Specialist Focus

Are you a trained peer specialist looking to enhance your skills? Here are some sessions that may be of particular interest to you:

  • Practicing Mindfulness (9:45–10:45)
  • Procovery: Looking Forward Not Back (11:15–12:15)
  • Recovery to Practice (1:30–2:30)
  • Maximizing Personal Strengths (2:45–3:45)

Treatment Focus

Are you seeking more information on various treatment approaches or issues affecting treatment? Here are some sessions that may be of particular interest to you:

  • Concordance (9:45–10:45)
  • Getting in the Rhythm (11:15–12:15)
  • Your Guide to Health Reform (1:30–2:30)
  • Research for a Better Future (2:45–3:45)

Personal Wellness Focus

Are you looking for alternative/supplemental strategies to help you find wellness beyond standard treatment? Here are some sessions that may be of particular interest to you:

  • Practicing Mindfulness (9:45–10:45)
  • Love vs. Mania (11:15–12:15)
  • Learned Resilience (1:30–2:30)
  • Maximizing Personal Strengths (2:45–3:45)

Life Enhancement Focus

Are you living life well but looking for ways to further enhance the quality of your life? Here are some sessions that may be of particular interest to you:

  • Better at Work (9:45–10:45)
  • Procovery: Looking Forward Not Back (11:15–12:15)
  • Learned Resilience (1:30–2:30)
  • Channeling Creativity (2:45–3:45)

Social Work Focus

For social workers looking to enhance their professional knowledge and understanding, DBSA recommends the following course of four breakout sessions from Sunday's program:

  • Practicing Mindfulness (9:45–10:45)
  • Getting in the Rhythm (11:15–12:15)
  • Recovery to Practice (1:30–2:30)
  • Channeling Creativity (2:45–3:45)

This program is approved by the National Association of Social Workers (Approval #886630888-1990) for 4 Social Work continuing education contact hours.

Monday Sessions

See the Post-Conference Institutes web page for more detail on the workshops and courses offered on Monday following the Stronger Together weekend.