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Tenth Annual Riggs-Yale Conference on Developmental Psychopathology, Family Process, and Social Context

Saturday July 24, 2021

Back to School: Rebuilding Relationships for Learning

This virtual conference hosted by the Austen Riggs Center focused on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on children and families, and the transition back to school in the fall for in-person learning. Grounded in an understanding of the power of deep listening, challenges faced by educators and clinicians working with vulnerable children and families in Berkshire County at this extraordinary time were identified and discussed. Presenters were as follows.

  • Karen Baicker, Executive Director of the Yale Child Study Center–Scholastic Collaborative for Child & Family Resilience; Publisher for Family and Community Engagement (FACE) at Scholastic
  • Deb Buccino, MD, Pediatrician affiliated with Fairview Hospital in Great Barrington, MA; Instructor in Pediatrics at Boston University School of Medicine
  • Nancy Close, PhD, Assistant Professor at the Yale Child Study Center and the Clinical Director of the MOMS Partnership® and the Yale Parent and Family Development Program; Director of Clinical Services for Minding the Baby
  • Sean Flynn, Guidance Counselor Monument Mountain Regional High School, Great Barrington MA
  • Amanda Lowell, PhD, Associate Research Scientist and licensed psychologist at the Yale Child Study Center
  • Susan Engel, PhD, Senior Lecturer in Psychology and Director of Teaching, Williams College
  • Michael Kaplan, MD, Child & Adolescent Psychiatry Specialist in New Haven, CT and Faculty, Child & Adolescent Psychiatry Training Program; Yale University
  • Micah Mortali, MA, Austen Riggs Therapeutic Community Staff member


8:30 - 8:45am

Welcome, introductions, and polling questions

Notes from the Front: How have our children and families fared?

8:45 - 9:15am

Southern Berkshire County – Deborah Buccino, MD, and Sean Flynn

9:15 - 9:45am

Notes from New Haven: Supporting Families and Children – Nancy Close, PhD

9:45 - 10:00am

Reflection/Discussion/Q & A

10:00 - 10:15am


Optional stretching break with Micah Mortali

Facing Loss and Rebuilding Connection

10:15 - 10:45am

Helping Children and Families with Transition and Loss – Amanda Lowell, PhD

10:45 - 11:15am

Together Again: Reconnecting with Students in School – Karen Baicker

11:15 - 11:30am


11:30am - 12:15pm

Small Group discussion/Breakouts

12:15 - 12:30pm

Optional stretching/mindfulness with Micah Mortali

12:30 - 1:00pm


Listening to the Children

1:00 - 1:30pm

Reigniting Curiosity – Susan Engel, PhD

1:30 - 2:00pm

Creating the Social and Emotional Support for Learning – Michael Kaplan, MD

2:00 - 2:15pm


2:15 - 2:45pm

Small Group discussion/Breakouts

2:45 - 3:15pm

Large Group closing discussion – What have we Learned?

Continuing Education Credits Authorized: 5

(MD, PhD, Social Work, LMHC, Nursing Contact Hours)