Behavioral Health Training Workshops

To fulfill our mission to help children and teens with mental health issues successfully transition to adulthood, Hillside not only treats clients in their mental health facilities in the Atlanta, GA areas, but we also use our expertise in behavioral health to train other professions who work with children and adolescents. Hillside’s community-based services include reaching out to parents, teachers and mental health practitioners to help create a holistically supportive environment to support all children and teenagers.

DBT Workshops in Georgia

Training programs and workshops offered at Hillside focus on DBT, but they are geared toward different audiences. Family education is a big part of the work Hillside does to support children struggling with mental disorders. These workshops help families understand the DBT therapy their children are getting in the Hillside program. Parents can participate in their child’s healing by reinforcing DBT concepts at home.

Hillside is the largest practitioner of DBT in the Southeast. For clinicians who want to have a DBT informed practice, there is no better way to gain exposure to it in practice than from the experts who are successfully applying it every day. Practical training in DBT can be a great advantage to any clinical practitioner who works with children and teenagers or who treats clients with personality disorders.

DBT workshops offered by Hillside include topics such as:

  • DBT Fundamentals
  • Clinical Structure and Treatment Modality
  • How to Deal with Pain to Avoid Suffering
  • Skills for Change and Effective Communication
  • The Power of Being Present: Creative Mindfulness Technique

Continuing Education Classes & Clinical Licensure

Hillside also uses our DBT expertise to educate other professionals. Many of the continuing education courses we offer carry professional continuing education hours, which count toward acquiring and maintaining clinical licensure. Hillside courses have the unique advantage of being taught by practicing clinicians, offering interactive learning experiences with real-life practical applications.

Choose Hillside for Mental Health Training Courses in Atlanta

Hillside® has been approved by NBCC as an Approved Continuing Education Provider, ACEP No. 6948. There are many opportunities to receive mental health training in Georgia from the experienced professionals at Hillside.  We strive to offer a variety of continuing education classes that are practical and innovative. Each month there are new mental health CE courses to participate in. Check back frequently to find a new training or workshop that would benefit you personally and professionally.

Upcoming Training Workshops

Relationships are Hard: Helping Teens with Emotion Management from Platonic to Romantic and “Situationships” in between.

Location: Online Event
When: Feb 16, 2024 12:00 PM
Class Times & Duration: 12:00 PM EDT

Feb 16 webinar

Workshop Description:

In this training, we will look at the emotional responses of adolescents as they experience numerous firsts in interpersonal relationships. We will examine how to respond practically to common issues that arise around concepts such as first break ups, bullying, peer pressure, and losing friendships. With the use of DBT, we teach skills that can be applied to managing large emotional responses that often occur. We also look at the various gender and cultural aspects that need to be conceptualized to give effective care. Finally we will look at how therapists can effectively manage their own emotions through self-care when dealing with heartbreaking situations.

Learning objectives:

  1. Participants will be able to identify at least two emotion regulations skills to use with adolescents
  2. Participants will be able to explain how to choose between emotion regulation skills, distress tolerance skill, or interpersonal effectiveness skills in varying situations
  3. Participants will be able to identify ways to use a multicultural perspective when looking at interpersonal effectiveness
  4. Participants will be able to express a gender informed understanding of relationships
  5. Participants will be able to identify at least two ways they can utilize self-care after difficult sessions

Continuing Education Credit:

  • 2 Core Continuing Education Hours has been applied for with GSCSW for Social Workers
  • 2 Continuing Education Hours approved for Counselors by NBCC as an Approved Continuing Education Provider, ACEP No. 6948.
  • 2 Related Hours for Marriage and Family Therapists

This webinar is free but participants must register ahead of time

Registration Link:

Let’s Talk about Psychological Evaluations

Location: Online Event
When: Friday, January 19, 2024
Class Times & Duration: 11:55 AM – 1:00 PM EDT

Jan 19 webinar


As masters- level clinicians, psychological testing and evaluations are often outside the scope of practice. However, it is helpful to understand the functions and benefits of a psychological evaluation in order to appropriately refer, interpret, and utilize to help inform the therapeutic treatment. In this interactive webinar, the speakers will help the audience gain a better understanding of what is a psychological evaluation. The difference between types of psychological evaluations and when to refer and use the results of the evaluation will also be covered.

Learning Objectives

• Gain understanding of what is a psychological evaluation
• Identify the difference between a neuropsychological evaluation vs. psych evaluation
• Describe how a psychological evaluation can be beneficial to the clinicians and clients.
• Identify when to refer for a psychological evaluation

1 Core Continuing Education Hour has been approved for Social Workers (GSCSW Approval #120723)

1 Continuing Education Hour approved for Counselors by NBCC as an Approved Continuing Education Provider, ACEP No. 6948.

Tailoring DBT Skills Instruction to Neurodivergent Needs

Location: Online Event
When: Friday, September 22
Class Times & Duration: 11:45 AM – 2:00 PM EDT


Workshop Description:

DBT is an empirically supported modality of therapy which is why most agencies, providers, etc. utilize DBT or DBT-informed interventions. Neurodivergent individuals, such as those with ADHD and Autism, interact with these skills a bit differently. Historically, this population has been marginalized and stigmatized so when they do enter into care, it’s important to ensure that they feel safe. This session will look over ways to make your therapy setting more accommodating with variations is lighting, seating, etc.

Learning Objectives:

1. Define neurodivergent with emphasis on ASD and ADHD, and care with some history around pathologizing these forms of neurodivergence

2. Overview the four DBT modules (Distress Tolerance, Mindfulness, Emotion Regulation, and Interpersonal Effectiveness) and use specific skills from each module and how to tailor them based on neuro-diverse needs

3. Overview of ableist language/stereotypes and how identify internalized stigma/ableism

4. Examine a strengths-based approach to neurodiversity



11:45 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. Sign-on & Introduction

12:00 p.m. - 12:15 am. Overview of workshop learning objectives

12:15 p.m. - 12.30 p.m. Orientation to neurodiversity; define terms

12:30 p.m. - 12:45 p.m. Pathologizing language and history of mental health stigma, microaggressions, and define ableism

12:45 p.m. - 1:00 p.m. Overview of DBT; premises, practices, modules

1:00 p.m. - 1:15 p.m. Specific skills and overview of how to tailor them to support neurodivergent needs

1:15 p.m. - 1:45 p.m. Tailoring the individual and group space for accessibility/safety

1:45 p.m.- 2:00 p.m. Q&A wrap up



Lucia (aka Luca) Caltabiano (they/them) is a non-binary provider that serves clients who has lived and professional experience at the intersection of gender and neurodiversity. Luca graduated with their MSW in 2017 from UGA, has been teaching since 2011, and working in mental health since 2013.

Continuing Education Credits:

2 Contact Hour for Counselors through NBCC

2 Core Hours for Social Workers Approval #051723 through GSCSW

2 Related Hour for Marriage & Family Therapists

For additional questions please contact Hillside's Director of Clinical Education& Outreach, Gaan Akers, LPC, at

Past Training Workshops

Supporting Transgender Teens

Location: Online Event
When: Fri, March 24, 2023
Class Times & Duration: 11:45 AM – 1:00 PM EDT



Transgender teens are those who do not identify with the gender they were assigned at birth. These adolescents face a myriad of difficulties and knowing how to spot them canhelp families to cope ahead. This training covers definitions around gender identities as well as resources that can help to support these adolescents. Safety plans and identifying if/when to access a higher level of care will also be explained.


  1. Define gender identity, gender expression, and distinguish from sexual/romantic orientation.
  2. Identify proximal and distal stressors for transgender adolescents based on the Minority Health Model.
  3. Describe Warning signs, safety planning, and identifying higher levels of care.
  4. Identify additional resources to support transgender teens.


Luca Valentine, LMSW
Luca(they/them) is a non-binary provider that serves clients who has lived and professional experience at the intersection of gender and neurodiversity. Luca graduated with their MSW in 2017 from UGA, has been teaching since 2011, and working in mental health since 2013


1 Contact Hour for Counselors through NBCC

1 Core Hours for Social Workers Approval #013023 through GSCSW

1 Related Hour for Marriage & Family Therapists

Signaling Matters: Intro to Radically Open Dialectical Behavioral Therapy

Location: Online Event
When: Wed, August 24, 2022
Class Times & Duration: 1:00 PM – 4:10 PM EDT


Radically Open Dialectical Behavior Therapy (RO DBT) is a new evidence-based treatment for people who suffer from emotional and behavior over-control. While traditional DBT works well for clients who lack emotional control and need interventions to enhance emotional and behavioral control; others, for whom RO DBT was designed, require interventions designed to relax rigid or inflexible control.

A counterintuitive idea behind the therapy is that it’s possible to have too much self-control. Self-control refers to our ability to restrain acting on our urges, emotions, and wants in favor of longer term goals. Most of the time, self-control is good, but some people can suffer from excessive self-control. For these people, inhibiting and controlling impulses and emotions has become so habitual and automatic that they have problems relaxing control when needed. This can result in overcontrolled people being overly inhibited, perfectionistic, cautious, and feeling exhausted by social interactions.

RO DBT has been researched over the past 20 years for patients with chronic depression or anorexia nervosa. Research results suggest that it is effective in these, and other, treatment resistant groups such as Autism Spectrum Disorders and Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder.

This workshop is intended for mental health professionals and students in training to be mental health professionals who are interested in learning how to help their overcontrolled clients. No prior training in DBT or RO-DBT is necessary. Instructional level for this event will be similar to a graduate and post-graduate level lecture class.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this three-hour introduction, participants will be able to:

  1. Explain a new biosocial theory for disorders of overcontrol
  2. Describe the four core deficits of overcontrol
  3. Describe a novel treatment mechanism positing open expression = trust = social connectedness
  4. Describe RO-DBT therapeutic stance and treatment structure
  5. Describe how Radical Openness is designed to enhance willingness for self-inquiry and flexible responding.

Continuing Education Credits

3 Core Contact Hours for Counselors through NBCC

3 Core Hours for Social Workers applied for with GSCSW

3 Related Hours for Marriage & Family Therapists


Heidi Ison (formerly Heidi Petracco), MSW, LCSW

Heidi is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Radically Open DBT Senior Clinician and Trainer, intensively trained and supervised by RO-DBT treatment founder Dr. Thomas Lynch. Heidi has served in clinical and administrative positions in the community and collegiate mental health settings, she is the former Clinical Director of the University of South Florida’s Counseling Center. Heidi is the owner of Radically Open DBT Tampa, a private group practice, providing evidence-based services to clients with temperaments of over-control including Depression, Anxiety, Anorexia, Autism and Cluster A and C Personality Disorders. She currently sits on the RO DBT International Adolescent Steering Committee working on treatment adaptations for an adolescent treatment manual.


1:00 – 2:30 p.m. A new biosocial theory for disorders of overcontrol

1:45 – 2:30 p.m. Four core deficits of overcontrol

2:30- 2:40 p.m. Break

2:45 – 4:10 p.m. Treatment mechanism, therapeutic stance and treatment structure

STAYING THE COURSE: Maintaining Family Engagement throughout Treatment


One of the most essential components in working with a child or adolescent is the therapeutic engagement with the family system. The ability to create shared understanding and judgement-free space in the family system in which the client belongs is necessary for progress and long-term change. Family systems can be a help or hindrance to the therapeutic process when faced with difficult and complex clinical issues.

This 2-hour workshop is designed for clinicians who are working with minor clients and their families. The presenters will discuss useful tools to address biases and barriers that inhibit treatment progress and effective relationships with clients and family, as well as, provide a more comprehensive understanding of the relationship between trust and the families ability to follow through with interventions. This session will be virtual and utilize lectures, role play, breakout rooms, and group discussions.

Learning Objectives

  1. Identify and address therapy interfering and disruptive patterns of behaviors within family systems
  2. Identify biases and prejudices about families and its impact on treatment planning and delivery.
  3. Identify three interventions for consistently working through barriers presented by family systems


  • 11:30 a.m. – 11:40 a.m Introduction
  • 11:40 a.m. – 12:05 p.m. Therapy Interfering Behaviors
  • 12:05 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Clinical Biases & Impact on Treatment
  • 12:30 p.m. – 12:55 p.m. Barriers to Effective Implementation of Therapeutic Interventions
  • 12:55 p.m. – 1:20 p.m. Building trust to implement safety and behavior plans
  • 1:20 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. Wrap-up; Q&A


Dionne Patterson- Smith, LPC, CPCS
Dionne is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Certified Professional Counselor Supervisor in Georgia with more than thirteen years of experience working with high risk adolescents and their families. Dionne has vast experience working with parents who are navigating family crises and parent/child relational conflicts. Dionne obtained her undergraduate degree from Georgia State University and earned a Master of Science in Community Counseling from Mercer University (2009). Dionne has experience working as a Family Counselor in a Substance Abuse Residential Program. She has also worked Direct Care in a Residential Program and was a Therapist in the Community Intervention Program prior to transitioning into a role as Community Intervention Program Manager at Hillside.

Utilizing various strategies to engage the most “treatment resistant” families in service delivery, Dionne is adept at building rapport, trust, and collaborative working relationships with Families. Dionne is intensively trained in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) and utilizes a Trauma Informed approach in her work with Families. She is also trained in Level One Theraplay, Level 4 Standard Teen Triple P and Level 5 Pathways Triple P, Motivational Interviewing, Trauma-Focused CBT, and is a certified Prepare Enrich for Couples facilitator.

Taylor Whelchel, LPC
Taylor is a Licensed Professional Counselor in Georgia with more than five years of direct care experience with high risk adolescents and their families in substance abuse clinics, university settings, and day programs. She has worked with the Hillside Intensive In-Home Program as a Therapist and Program Manager since 2017 and is currently leading Hillside’s Virtual DBT Intensive Outpatient Program.

Taylor was intensively trained in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) in 2018, and has specialized in working with teenagers who struggle with suicidality, self-harm, anxiety, depression, and PTSD. She also has training in Motivational Interviewing (2016), Trauma-Focused CBT (2017), and Emotion Focused Couples Therapy (2016).

Continuing Education Credits

  • 2 Contact Hours for Counselors through NBCC
  • 2 Core Hours for Social Workers applied for with GSCSW
  • 2 Related Hours for Marriage & Family Therapists


Therapy Tools of the Trade: Experiential DBT Strategies for Distress Tolerance


Most people will do just about anything to not feel overwhelmed with unwanted and painful emotions. However, people often will get stuck in cycles of behaviors that lead them to “numb out” or resort to harmful coping strategies. Without the skills to tolerate emotional distress, people tend to avoid thinking about and doing things that bring up uncomfortable emotions. They may continue to use their unhealthy coping habits or withdraw from participating in daily living. 

Clinicians can help clients build their distress tolerance, give them the tools to stop the spiral of avoidant behaviors that only increase distress in the long term, and open the door to life-changing growth.

This workshop is designed to introduce clinician’s to specific Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) skills from the Distress Tolerant Skill Module. The instructors will give an overview DBT as a modality of treatment, however, the focus of this workshop will be to teach and demonstrating practical Distress Tolerant skills that can be implemented in various settings. Lecture, videos, role-play, as well as experiential and hands-on activities will be used to help participants develop capability and effective implementation in their respective settings.  

Learning Objectives

  • List the 4 modes of treatment in comprehensive DBT
  • Describe the 5 DBT Skill modules
  • Identify the 2 sets of Distress Tolerance Skills
  • Explain and practice at least 2 crisis survival strategies
  • Discuss at least 1 Reality Acceptance Strategy


  • 8:30-8:45/1:30-1:45: Introductions
  • 8:45-9:05/1:45-2:05: Overview of DBT modes of treatment and skill modules
  • 9:05-9:15/2:05-2:15: Intro to Distress Tolerance Skill Modules
  • 9:15-10:15/2:15-3:15: Crisis Survival Strategies: TIPP, Distract with ACCEPTS, and Self-Soothe
  • 10:15-10:35/3:15-3:35: Reality Acceptance Strategies: 4 ways of response and Radical Acceptance
  • 10:35-10:45/3:35-3:45: Q&A
  • 10:45-11:00/3:45-4:00: Wrap-up & Networking


Gaan Akers, LPC, NCC

Gaan Akers is a Licensed Professional Counselor and a National Certified Counselor. Gaan has been working with children, adolescents, and families for over 10 years in various settings. Most of her professional career has been in psychiatric care settings where her focus was providing therapeutic treatment to children, adolescents, and families. She has facilitated countless parent groups, individual therapy, and family sessions in both outpatient clinic and hospital settings.

She has completed intensive DBT training, co-led DBT parent groups, as well as clinician trainings with Dr. Kimberly Vay, LPC, CPCS, the first DBT-Linehan Board of Certification, Certified Clinician™ in the state of Georgia. 

She is the Clinical Education and Referral Relations Manager for Hillside, a nationally recognized mental health hospital for children and adolescents. In her current role, she relies on her expertise and clinical experience to perform clinical case-consultations with mental health clinicians. She serves as the Hillside’s clinical expert in the organization’s media engagement with television and radio interviews. She also facilitates continuing educations workshops and skills training for mental health professionals and the community.

Continuing Education Credits

  • For Social workers – 2 Core Continuing Education Hours approved by GSCSW (Approval#060321)
  • For Counselors – 2 contact hours; Hillside® has been approved by NBCC as an Approved Continuing Education Provider, ACEP No. 6948. Programs that do not qualify for NBCC credit are clearly identified. Hillside® is solely responsible for all aspects of the programs.
  • For Marriage and Family Therapists – 2 related hours