Wednesday, 24 July 2019

RLC Trainers & Speakers

Welcome to the Western Mass Recovery Learning Community's RLC trainer & speaker section.presenter black and white

We pride ourselves on offering speakers and training teams made up of people who have first-hand experience with all aspects of the topics about which they are addressing. 

For example, our Hearing Voices Group Facilitator training teams are made up of people who have first-hand experience with both hearing voices and recent Hearing Voices group facilitation.  Our Alternatives to Suicide Group Facilitator training teams are made up of people who have first-hand experience with suicide attempts and/or struggling with thoughts of killing themselves and who also have extensive experience facilitating Alternatives to Suicide groups.  Interested in a speaker who can talk about what it's like to be transgender and in the mental health system?  Someone who's struggled with substance abuse and emotional distress?  We will connect you with people who has both lived it themselves and supported others to do the same.  And so on.  (You get the idea, right?!)

We also pride ourselves as being a community of people who have overcome a great deal and surpassed all expectations of those who may have tried to diagnose us or predict our futures in our darkest moments.  Ultimately, we are committed to being creative, doing things differently, and sharing our efforts with as many people as are willing and interested in working with us to make real change in this world.

View our trainer and speaker listing below, or click here for a comprehensive listing of topics about which we are able to speak or offer training.



Sera Davidow

sdavidow 1Sera Davidow resides in the Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts where she has been a part of the Western Mass Recovery Learning Community (RLC) since its visioning process, serving as Director since it became funded in 2007.  There, she has gained over a decade of experience in project development and oversight, grant writing, public speaking, curriculum development and training, and supervision and leadership, among so many other things. She also worked as a lead trainer for the state's Certified Peer Specialist program for nearly ten years, is a founding member of the Hearing Voices USA Board of Directors, and blogs regularly on Mad in America. (Additionally, Sera is well versed in the ins and outs of being a Mystery Shopper but that's a job for a different story!)

Sera received her first psychiatric diagnosis as a teenager, accumulating a handful more by her early twenties.  That, along with a lengthy history of self-injury and emotional distress, led to her first hospitalization against her will at the age of 22, and an array of prescriptions for psychotropic drugs.  However, it was her ‘non-compliant’ and rebellious nature that paved her way down another path and to a full life where she re-defined herself as a survivor and has found success without any diagnoses or psychiatric drugs.

Her employment journey first brought her to a position in the conventional mental health system, but she soon found her way to peer-to-peer support communities, advocacy and social justice efforts. Through this work, she has gained a range of experiences including starting up a peer respite (Afiya), opening resource centers, and producing educational materials (including co-authoring handbooks on peer respites and developing peer roles).  She has also developed a passion for filmmaking, beginning with ‘Beyond the Medical Model’ in 2013. 

More is available about Sera, her story, and her work in this 2017 article from Sun Magazine: An Open Mind - Sera Davidow Questions What We Think We Know About Mental Illness

Read more: Sera Davidow

Evan Goodchild

Evan picEvan Goodchild is a Western Massachusetts native and decent dude. He is an audio/visual artist (musician, filmmaker, podcaster) that focuses on fostering creativity within the Western Mass Recovery Learning Community (RLC). He was first introduced to the community in 2008 and has been closely involved in numerous art workshops, musical projects, career initiative projects, advocacy efforts, and community films ever since.

After abruptly dropping out of college, Evan found ways to continuously sabotage most of his own work and relationships through isolation and substance abuse. However, he soon found that working on art is something that helped him move through his darkest places and settle back into himself.  He strongly believes that artistic expression can be a natural and powerful tool to find meaning and healing, and to build lasting, inspired connection through collaboration with others.  

Digital media is a tool that he uses to deepen these connections, and help elevate the great work and stories of those around him. In 2014, he won Best Short Film at Mad In America's International Film Festival for his directorial collaboration with Sera Davidow, "The Virtues of Non-Compliance". He has facilitated Do-It-Yourself filmmaking workshops at the Alternatives Conference, Bowen Resource Center and UMASS-Tower Square. In addition, Evan graduated from the University of Massachsetts' University Without Walls with a degree in "The Creative Arts in Human Services", is an audio curator for the production company hitRECord, and is interested to hear what sort of projects you are working on, too.

Read more: Evan Goodchild



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