Wicks Returns as Keynote for Conference
on Resilience

Dr. Robert Wicks & Sr. Suzanne Mayer
Dr. Robert Wicks, keynote speaker, greets Sr. Suzanne Mayer, IHM, Neumann’s coordinator of pastoral and theological studies, at the
June 21 Resilience Conference

The Pastoral Counseling Department sponsored a daylong conference on Resilience in early June. More than 120 participants came together in the Mirenda Center to take part in four cutting-edge workshops surrounding the topic of Resiliency.

Dr. Robert Wicks, a co-founder of Neumann’s Pastoral Counseling program 31 years ago, returned as keynote speaker. The culmination of his presentation was his final advice to the crowd: “In the end it’s not the amount of darkness in the world that surrounds us that matters. It's not even the amount of darkness in ourselves. It’s how we stand in the darkness.”

Dr. Wicks is a clinical psychologist and a leading writer about the intersection of spirituality and psychology. He is a well-known speaker, therapist, and spiritual guide who has taught for more than 30 years at several universities. He is a recipient of The Holy Cross Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice, the highest medal awarded to the laity by the Papacy for distinguished services to the Roman Catholic Church, presented for his work with trauma survivors, first responders and caretakers internationally. 


He has published more than 50 books on spirituality and personal growth. Some of his more recent books have focused on Resiliency including, Bounce: Living the Resilient Life, Overcoming Secondary Stress in Medical and Nursing Practice: A Guide to Professional Resilience and Personal Well-Being, The Resilient Clinician, and Riding the Dragon: 10 Lessons for Inner Strength in Challenging Times. Wicks led the day filled with insights, stories and practices, offering important answers, understanding, and an emphasis on maintaining resilience and keeping perspective. 


“One of the greatest gifts that a caregiver can give to others is a sense of own peace and perspective, but remembering they can’t share what they don’t have.” said Wicks.
Throughout his talk, Dr. Wicks explained that while experiencing tragedy gives us perspective, keeping perspective after a tragedy is what is critical to regaining and building resiliency. He shared a number of stories and anecdotes with everyone that demonstrated what happens when someone loses perspective.

The afternoon consisted of hands-on workshops giving the participants the opportunity to experience two different sessions each. Workshop A: Resiliency and the Caregiver focused on supporting and nurturing others with crisis loss. Facilitated by Linda Branco, the director of pastoral care for St. Francis Healthcare, the session covered personal strengths, accepting support from family and friends, and finding meaning and purpose within struggling times. Workshop B: Choose Life-Resources drawn from spirituality and the arts toward resilience and healing, facilitated by Sister Suzanne Mayer, IHM, coordinator of Pastoral and Theological studies here at Neumann, reflected on interconnections of creativity. Using examples from poetry, art and scripture, Sister discussed how vision of each of these areas fosters resiliency and furthers healing. 

Workshop C: Where Resilience Meets the Road: Recognizing and Promoting Client Resilience in Pastoral Care and Hospital Systems was facilitated by Rev. Caroline Cupp, M.Div, MBE, BCC. This workshop explored how resilience is enacted in daily practices with client and groups with mental health services. Lastly was Workshop D: Prioritizing Our Own Resiliency: Moving Beyond “Knowledge” of self-care to active, compassionate caring for self. This workshop touched upon building on constructs of compassion fatigue, burn out, and vicarious trauma, offering an understanding of how helpers are impacted by their work and how they can identify their vulnerabilities and triggers. It was facilitated by Elizabeth Venart, M.Ed., NCC, LPC, founder and director of The Resiliency Center in Ambler, PA. 


Sr. Suzanne Mayer, IHM, concluded, “This whole days was a powerful experience, it goes to show that when life is hard, or painful, or difficult, there is still hope.”


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