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Join one of the speakers at Springbrook Autism Behavioral Health’s yearly summit: Converge Autism, Stephanie Holmes MA, BCCC, and Certified Autism Specialist as she discusses the journey of finding a child’s potential when they have autism spectrum disorder. She and host, Melanie Vann, MA and Life Coach from MHNR Network both have children on the spectrum, so their knowledge is first hand.

Discovering your child or loved ones potential can be a trying one, but it can also be one filled with magic and joy. Every child or adult on the spectrum has something to offer. By tapping into one special task done well, a child on the spectrum can find confidence to master other areas of their lives. Don’t ever give up hope; you can help your child find their way in the world; even if it often looks a lot different than everyone else’s!

Springbrook Behavioral Health, the creators of Converge Autism Radio, have numerous resources on their website including blog articles that they will often discuss on their show!


Join host Melanie Vann and guest Lisa Raiford as they discuss Springbrook’s Converge Autism Summit and her presentation on Putting Together the Puzzle: Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorder through Evidence-Based Practice.

Lisa O. Raiford, Ed.D. began teaching as a special education teacher, certified in Emotional Disabilities. Her experience in working with individuals with Emotional Disabilities and Autism Spectrum Disorder lead her to earn her National Board Certification as an Exceptional Needs Specialist. Serving as a District Teacher of the Year, and a South Carolina State Finalist Teacher of the Year, Dr. Raiford has worked to restructure an alternative school and serve as a Consultant in the area of Emotional Disabilities and Behavior for a large school district. Currently serving as the South Carolina Department of Education Consultant for Autism Spectrum Disorders, she has worked to provide education, awareness, and programming for individuals with Autism and their educators, including the development of a statewide Task Force on Autism Spectrum Disorder, and the ASD Virtual Library, a collection of resources for educators, parents, and students. Dr. Raiford also provides educational workshops for youth programs in the community that embrace the inclusion of youth with disabilities in their programming.

Mental Health overall has been getting more visibility in main stream media and socially, now more than ever. The awareness continues to increase, and more and more people are understanding the importance of not only their physical health, but also their mental health.

We don’t always realize however, that our mental health at work is just as important as when we are outside of the office or job site. With the responsibilities of every day becoming more and more strenuous, we find ourselves with fewer and fewer opportunities to address our mental well being. There’s a million and one things that pull us in a million and two directions every single day, which means that self care can go by the way side in favor of simply trying to make it through the day. Opening up and talking to someone; reaching out for help when the pressures of life become overwhelming, feels more like a luxury than a necessity. Or worse yet, feeling like asking for help is a sign of weakness, rather than self-awareness and strength.

My colleague, friend, and fellow podcaster, Petra Velzeboer joins me on this episode of the podcast to talk about her work as a mental health business consultant, as and how using her own life experiences helps break down the walls in the workplace, and encourage employees to speak out about their own struggles and not be ashamed in asking for help.

I also had the honor of being Petra’s podcast, Adversity to Advantage, where I share some of my story of surviving and thriving after trauma. Give it a listen on her podcast website or your favorite podcasting app.

Petra Velzeboer is a psychotherapist, living in London, as well as an executive coach, mental health consultant, speaker, and podcaster.  Her expertise of mental health in the work place, allows her to travel abroad speaking to companies or all types, about the importance of addressing mental health within the company.  By sharing some of her own story to help break the ice, she encourages employees from all walks of life to normalize the conversation of mental health in their lives.

During our chat on the podcast, you’ll learn how Petra was raised in a religious cult, where she experienced multiple types of abuse and public punishment. By the time she was able to leave and strike out on her own, she had no idea who she was, and how to survive in a world that was so foreign to her.  The pressure was so great that she found herself nearly unable to function outside of that atmosphere, and this quickly lead to thoughts of ending her life.

In a final effort to survive, she made a pact with herself to give it 1 year to figure things out and learn to live successfully like she saw others doing. This was the opportunity she needed, and during that time she learned and practiced mindfulness, living authentically, taking care of herself, and realizing her own potential to not only survive, but thrive.

As she shares, you’ll learn more about her struggles with being sexually assaulted, living as a young mother of two, struggles with relationships and boundaries, eventually through all her trials; realize her calling as a therapist and coach. Even in the midst of extreme trials and circumstances, she was being transformed into someone who now inspires and encourages others not only in the work place, but in their personal lives as well.

Petra talks about the important lesson she learned in the darkest parts of her life and throughout her ongoing healing; to show continue showing up in life. Be authentic, and keep tearing down the walls that only keep others out, but keep you from receiving the help you need as well.

We discuss the importance of allowing yourself a designated time to “fall apart”, and feel the emotions and struggles without pushing them aside and burying them in favor of simply pressing on. Learning to take care

Diana Cusumano is a LMHC, NCC, RYT Yogi, and Mindfulness Coach. I met Diana when she was a board member for NAMI Westchester. She currently works with the JED Foundation setting up mental health programs at colleges nationwide. She prefers to take on mental health and wellness from every angle in order to minimize it’s ability to take up too much space in our lives. Today we discuss how her own struggles with anxiety lead her to combine therapy and yoga to take a new approach towards mental health conditions. Diana is a warrior that strives to help others find their warrior within. Listen more. Listen in…Literally. Namaste’.

Contribute to Society: Discovery Across the Autism Spectrum is the keynote speech to be delivered by Dr. Temple Grandin for Springbrook Behavioral’s Converge Autism Summit held March 8-9th, 2019 in Greenville, South Carolina.

Tickets are still available at or by going to

This interview is a short discussion with Dr. Grandin about animal behavior (one of her favorite topics) and basic skills for working in the regular economy when you have Autism.

Welcome back to our self-proclaimed, Mental Health Megacast, a semi-regular round table discussion with 3 mental health advocates and survivors who are trying to find our way through recovery.

I think we’ve finally nailed down a proper episode numbering system for these “shows within a show” that the 3 of us are doing. So this one is officially, Season 2, Ep. 3…at least that’s what I’m calling it.

Anyways, just in case you aren’t familiar with the Megacasts, you can check out past episodes here, and also on cohorts platforms as well….

To that end, the Megacast is creation of the collaborative brain powers (more or less) of Wes from and Mike from, and myself.  I encourage you to check out and follow them online and through your favorite podcasting platform. Each of these has a tremendous message to share and an inspiring and unique way in how they go about it.

In this episode, we talk about how doing not only the Megacast, but also our own individual shows, has influenced our  journey of healing. How has talking about mental health encouraged us, challenged us, and forced us to confront some things about ourselves that we never thought we would have. We share the education aspect of doing these shows, as well as the humor; the challenges and the rewards. We also do a bit of catching up, and organically dive into the topic of a fear of failure, not only podcasting but in advocacy, and in our personal lives. The doubts and fears can be very powerful, and if we aren’t careful can keep us treading water instead of moving forward.

We also….wait for it…actually deciding on a new approach to figuring out what to talk about on these collaborative shows. If you’re a regular listener you know that we also mention our struggles with time, and trying to figure out a topic to discuss. To be honest it’s not much of a struggle, it’s just become something we joke about more than anything else, but at the same time the beauty of this collaboration is that once we start talking, subjects just come up and we run with it. So instead of trying to figure out a gameplan for the next show, we’re just going to let it unfold naturally and see where each one takes us…rest assured whatever we discuss it will be with our own unique flair and about mental health.

We hope you enjoy this latest episode, and yes if you do have suggestions for future shows, we are still taking them. 😉

Be sure and follow Wes on Twitter @WesA1966 and Mike @Mike_Douglas_ & Open_Journal_  …oh and don’t forget to follow and subscribe to all of our shows on your favorite podcasting app!

-Matt Pappas, CLC, CPNLP


All conversation and information exchanged during participation the Beyond Your Past Podcast, on, and is intended for educational and informational purposes only. Nothing on these podcasts or posted on the above mentioned websites are supplements for or supersedes the relationship and direction of your medical or mental health providers.

Trauma survivors have literally experienced first hand what many could not even comprehend. A past filled with abusive parents and  caregivers, toxic family members and friends, and a childhood full of secrets that, when told, can make your hair on the back of you neck stand up on end! It’s a past that none would wish for, yet is more common than we realize. Chances are if are reading this or listening to the podcast, you know someone who is a survivor, or perhaps you are one yourself.

What about a different type of trauma though, one where you don’t need to experience first-hand, in order to feel its effects. I’m talking about intergenerational trauma, and I’m honored to be talking with expert, author, and coach, Emily Wanderer Cohen about this very subject.

Over the 2 years or so that I have been recording this podcast, I’ve covered many different types of trauma, modalities of treatment and healing, and talked with incredible survivors who have overcome tremendous odds and now share their story to help inspire others.  This is the first time I’ve covered intergenerational trauma, and I learned quite a bit from talking with Emily.

Emily Wanderer Cohen is a two-time international bestselling author, speaker, coach, and intergenerational trauma expert.

A second-generation (2G) Holocaust survivor, she knows what it feels like to live with transmitted trauma and helps her clients, including second- and third-generation Holocaust survivors; sexual, spousal, and child abuse survivors; and other genocide, natural disaster, and other severe trauma survivors heal from the trauma, move forward with their lives, and stop the cycle of intergenerational trauma.

So what exactly is intergenerational trauma is (also referred to as inherited trauma or transgenerational trauma)? As Emily explains, it’s described as effects of trauma that the sufferer did not experience first hand. She dives deeper into that explanation during our chat, as well as:

  • Does it only affect descendants of Holocaust survivors or others as well?
  • What are some of the common signs of intergenerational trauma?
  • How can someone stop the cycle of transmission?
  • How do we know it’s real? Are there any scientific studies that you can point to?

Emily also shares case studies and information on how those who have experienced this type of trauma often have lower cortisol levels, and therefore can be less equipped to handle this or any other type of trauma than someone who has normal cortisol levels. Intergenerational trauma survivors also have an increased likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease and trauma based chronic illnesses such as Lupus, Fibromyalgia, and more.

We cover these topics and more as Emily Wanderer Cohen gives us insight into a type of trauma that can begin to manifest itself without the survivor ever even considering the possibility of its existence in their life.

I encourage you to listen to the podcast and do some additional research, including checking out both of Emily’s international best selling books: From Generation to Generation, and The Daughter’s Dilemma.

You can follow Emily Wanderer Cohen on Twitter, Facebook, and her website,

I hope you’ll consider sharing this podcast on your social media, and maybe even subscribing and leaving a review on your favorite podcasting app! I would definitely appreciate it.

-Matthew Pappas, CLC, MPNLP


All conversation and information exchanged during participation on the Beyond Your Past Podcast, on, and is intended for educational and informational purposes only. Nothing on these podcasts or posted on the above mentioned websites ar

Screenwriter, Actor, and Director John Palomino comes back to Hysteria Radio to let us know how his first year of advocacy went. John spent the last year screening his film Man of the House across the country. Along the way he has opened up a much needed dialogue about suicide and suicide prevention. It was a pleasure to talk with John and see his growth and what he has learned from the mental health community. He is a positive force that will continue to make an impact on the world around him. Tune in to our conversation now and you can find out more about John’s work at

There is nothing more frightening for a parent with a child that has Autism than the split second their child can be right by them and then they’ve disappeared. Eloping or wandering is something many children do but especially children with Autism.

Melanie Vann, a counselor and mother of a young child with Autism talks about her experiences as a parent. She also discusses how her friends, family, and strangers have and can help people with special needs children.

Education, compassion, and awareness are key especially when we hear about young children who have run off, are Autistic, and possibly non-verbal who are later found too late.

Please join us at, whether you have Autism yourself, your child has Autism, or they don’t so you can learn about this disorder and be a part of a society that reserves judgement and tries to help potential danger from happening in the life of a child.

As fate would have it, divine intervention, or just total coincidence (not that I believe in coincidences), recently on the Beyond Your Past Podcast, I’ve been talking with guests surrounding the area of men’s mental health.

Being a guy myself, it’s not like I haven’t covered this topic before on the show, however given recent events politically and socially, I’m glad that these recent episodes are helping to shine light on the male side of mental health and being a survivor of trauma. We are truly all in this together, regardless of gender, and the more we continue to bring this out into the open, the more we chip away at the stigma and shame of reaching out for help.

In episode 89, I talked with Andrea Schneider LCSW about overcoming shame, feeling alienated in regards to the #metoo movement, and reaching out for professional help as a male survivor of trauma. 

My guest here on episode 90, fellow podcaster, advocate for men’s mental health, and friend Al Levin.

“I’m an assistant principal in a public elementary school.  I’ve been in education for nearly twenty years.  I’m married and have four children. I’ve recently completed all of the coursework in working towards a Co-Active coaching certificate through the Coaches Training Institute.  The coaching work has allowed me to support the staff I work with in the public schools, as well as others who are seeking support in reaching their goals or working past challenging times in their lives.

I am also a person who has recovered from a major depressive disorder, an illness that was quite debilitating for nearly six months of my life.  Through this experience, I have become very passionate about learning more about mental health and supporting others with a mental illness, particularly men with depression. In addition to this blog, I speak publicly for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and I tweet @allevin18.”

Al’s podcast, The Depression Files, and his advocacy work focuses primarily on men’s mental health and specifically with depression, along with encouraging men to open up and seek help when their depression reaches a level where thoughts of suicide begin to surface. Al Levin himself was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder and knows first hand what’s like to wake up in the middle of night contemplating ways to take his life, feeling like a burden on his family and society, and living life completely consumed by depression.

His website, also outlines more of his story of “how everything seemed to be going well, yet everything seemed to come crashing down.”  Which is precisely the topic of our conversation on the podcast. I wanted to chat with Al because his story is one that so many men and women today can relate too. A guy who’s life was seemingly humming along; good job, hard work paying off with a new promotion, loving wife and family, good friends, yet something lurking in the background and beginning to surface that he didn’t expect.

During the podcast you’ll learn how:

In 2010, Al received the promotion he had been working so hard towards, but once he took on the new responsibilities, everything began to change and his was slowly but surely being turned upside down. The stresses of late hours, budget constraints, managing staff, and oversized classes began to take its toll. He was running on adrenaline more often than not, not sleeping well or eating properly,  and not communicating with his wife, family, and friends.

How those events translated into seeking help from his family doctor and starting on medications to help with a new diagnosis of depression.

As things began to continue spiraling down, affecting his job, family, and friendships, thoughts of suicide began to surface.

How waking up in the middle of the night after dreaming of ways to take his own life, prompted him to talk with his wife and family and seek the help of a mental health professional.

Along wit


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