Twin Cities News & Events


SPS February Fireside Presentation
Thursday, February 20, 2020
7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
“How can therapists understand and engage the School to Prison Pipeline?” A case study of a community intervention called, “The Circle of Peace Movement”
Presented by Joel Grostephan, M.S.W., L.I.C.S.W. & Russell Balenger, Founder

Russel Balenger started The Circle of Peace Movement 10-years ago because he saw young people, including his grandchildren, who were already facing violence on the streets, treated harshly and unfairly by the police department and the court system.

The Circle of Peace Movement aims to mend long lived ruptures of trust between the police, community elders and young people involved in the criminal justice system. Russel saw the School to Prison Pipeline (kids getting in trouble at school quickly escalating into legal issues with long-term consequences) play an outsized role in his grandchildren’s lives and those of other young people.

The Circle of Peace Movement is based on a restorative justice model of a talking circle. Participants agree to certain rules of engagement, pass a talking piece, and speak their truth to the room on some intimate subjects. Few participants have had voluntary or helpful involvement with therapists or mental health practitioners.

Joel and Russel will also discuss the ways this group works to address alienation, pain, isolation and acting out, all of which overlap with some basic assumptions that therapists hold and fit within theory from DW Winnicott and others. Finally, they will invite discussion of how therapists could be involved in community interventions that address profound social problems related to trauma, race, police and the criminal justice system.

1. Be able to describe and understand meaning of the school to prison pipeline.
2. Understand the St. Paul-based community intervention called, ”The Circle of Peace Movement.”
3. Understand how a restorative justice approach of The Circle of Peace Movement shares territory with psychoanalytic and psychodynamic theory.
4. Explore of roles therapists play in this community issue, as well as what role they could play.

Russel Balenger has a long history as a peacemaker and activist dating back to when he a was high school student in the 1960s. His career has included years of working with clients at the Urban League and the criminal justice focused nonprofit Amicus where he was vice president. Currently, he is self-employed, working in criminal justice reform for juveniles and facilitating men’s groups in the state prison system. His work focuses on helping adults and juveniles, who are in jail or in prison, see a way forward out the criminal justice system. Learn more about the Circle of Peace Movement at

Joel Grostephan, M.S.W., L.I.C.S.W., has a private practice in St. Paull where he works with adults using AEDP and psychodynamic theory. During his MSW program, he interned under Mr. Balenger and attended the Circle of Peace Movement in St. Paul. Mr. Grostephan has an MSW from the University of Minnesota (2011). He has long tried to reckon with racial injustice personally and he struggles with ways to embrace social justice as part of his social work practice.

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Carondelet Center
1890 Randolph Avenue
St. Paul, MN
Map and directions can be found at:

$20.00 per session – Member
$30.00 per session - Non-Member
***No Charge*** to Students, Interns, Residents and Fellows with ID

Payments may be made in advance or at the door. Advance Payment via credit card is available online at Credit card payment is only available in advance online. At the door payments may be cash or check. Program fees are non-refundable.

Each Fireside, when attended in its entirety, is available for 1.5 continuing education credits.

Division 39 is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. Division 39 maintains responsibility for this program and its content.

Division 39 is committed to accessibility and non-discrimination in its continuing education activities. Division 39 is also committed to conducting all activities in conformity with the American Psychological Association’s Ethical Principles for Psychologists.

Participants are asked to be aware of the need for privacy and confidentiality throughout the program. If program content becomes stressful, participants are encouraged to process these feelings during discussion periods. If participants have special needs, we will attempt to accommodate them.

Please address questions, concerns and any complaints to Josh Goodwin at There is no commercial support for this program nor are there any relationships between the CE Sponsor, presenting organization, presenter, program content, research, grants, or other funding that could reasonably be construed as conflicts of interest.

All presenters will discuss the utility/validity of the content/approach discussed including the validity and utility as well as the limitations of the approach and the most common (and severe) risks as relevant. A post- test will be provided for those who need this content for licensure.
Participants applying for a new LICSW license must meet new educational requirements.

For more information, please see:

SPS is a Continuing Education Provider by the MN Board of Social Work, CEP-130

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SPS March Fireside Presentation
Thursday, March 19, 2020
7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Presentation of Kirkland C. Vaughans’ Film

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Saturday, April 18, 2020
8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
“The School to Prison Pipeline: Socially Sanctioned Violence Against Black Girls and Boys”
Presented by Kirkland C. Vaughans, Ph.D.

This presentation is designed for clinicians, from beginning to advanced levels, who wish to advance their knowledge and expand their skill base in psychodynamic treatment with Black girls and boys. An overcrowded, demoralized and punitive educational system, in conjunction with juvenile justice, has caused child misbehavior to metabolize into criminality by funneling Black students through the juvenile justice system. The mental health system both private and public has abdicated their role in addressing and/or validating the mental health needs of Black children and therefore function as a sort of reverse triage system that prioritizes Black youth as primer fodder for incarceration at an alarming rate.

1. Participants will be able to identify how racism affects the issues of trust in the treatment of children of Color.
2. Participants will be able to identify how their own unacknowledged attitudes about race can impact their ability to treat this population.
3. Participants will be able to identify how structural racism impedes potential mentalization of children of Color.
4. Participants will appreciate the inevitability of the racialized transference / countertransference matrix in mixed racial dyads.

Kirkland C. Vaughans, Ph.D., is a licensed clinical psychologist and a psychoanalyst with a private practice in New York City. He is the founding editor of the Journal of Infant, Child, and Adolescent Psychotherapy and co-editor of the two-volume book, The Psychology of Black Boys and Adolescents. Dr. Vaughans is a senior adjunct professor of psychology at the Derner Institute of Advanced Psychological Studies at Adelphi University and Director of the Derner Postgraduate Program in Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy, where he also serves as the Director of the Derner/ Hempstead Child Clinic. He serves as a Visiting Faculty Member and Honorary Member at the Institute for Psychoanalytic Training and Research (IPTAR), as well as an Adjunct Clinical Professor at the NYU Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis. He is a retired school psychologist and the former Regional Director of the New Hope Guild Centers for Child Mental Health of Brooklyn. He is an active member of the Research Council of the New York City Young Men’s Initiative and former chairman of the board of The Harlem Family Institute: a Multicultural Psychoanalytic Training Institute.

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SPS May Fireside Presentation
Thursday, May 19, 2020
7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
“Desire and Sex – Letting Go of Fear to Do the Work”
Presented by Rick Laska, L.I.C.S.W., C.S.T.

Desire and sex are critical pieces of our clients’ lives; however, so little time is spent training therapists to have these discussions. As therapists move into working with the erotic, we encounter our own defenses, anxieties and fears in delving into this important clinical topic. While exploring narratives related to sexual morality, attachment, emotion theory and psychodynamic models, this workshop will strive to prepare you to move into working with desire, sexual feelings and sexual behaviors in your clinical work.

1. Participants will be able to identify 3 sexual scripts which they and/or their clients may subscribe to and understand how this may impact how the work proceeds.
2. Participants will be able to identify components of the erotic to facilitate clinical work and identify potential treatment strategies.
3. Participants will learn to about the emergence of defenses related to the erotic within the context of the attachment environment.

Rick Laska, L.I.C.S.W., is Director of Clinical Services at JustUs Health in St. Paul, Minnesota. He is also a Certified Sex Therapist by the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists. Rick specializes in working with issues related to sexuality including, but not limited to: sexual function, sexual trauma, sexual identity, sexual behaviors, arousal concerns and desire discrepancy in relationships. At JustUs Health, Rick
centers LGBTQ+ clients, clients impacted by HIV, and/or other communities who have historically experienced barriers to mental health care.

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SPS is an affiliate of the American Psychological Association MN Chapter of Division 39