Traumatic Stress Recovery Program

ANNUAL SYMPOSIUM June 12 – 13, 2024

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Welcome to this year's symposium, where we are honored to introduce Grant Edwards as one of our esteemed presenters.


DAY 1 – June 12th

Alan Treddenick profile picture

MC - Alan Treddenick

Alan is the CEO of ATNOH Group, a Global Public Safety and Risk Consultancy. Prior to founding the company, Alan spent 32 years with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), involved in extensive counter-terrorism operations within Canada and abroad.

Alan then joined BlackBerry’s Government Relations division and established a team to lead BlackBerry’s strategic relationships with law enforcement, intelligence, and security agencies around the globe on national security, sensitive investigations, and other regulatory issues focused on lawful access and market access concerns. Recently Alan has been involved in First Responder and Intelligence / Security Professional wellness and mental health issues.

Alan is a graduate of Queen’s University, the RCMP Training Academy, and the Canadian Police College. He continues as a member of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP) serving on a number of committees. He maintains membership in the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), ASIS, Royal Canadian Military Institute, Chatham House (UK), as well as formerly being on the Advisory Board at the Sheffield Hallam University’s Centre of Excellence in Terrorism, Resilience, Intelligence and Organized Crime Research (CENTRIC).

Alan has been involved as a Senior Strategic Advisor on Government Relations and Regulatory Affairs for a number of public safety start-up companies and currently serves on the Advisory Board for TIGIR Solutions, a disruptive Canadian AI technology start-up in the Threat and Risk Analysis space, J3 Global Solutions, a global risk and crisis management company, Kirsch Group, a global security and investigation company, as well as with M-Sec Enterprises, a Canadian tactical solutions provider in the public safety, security, and defence sectors.

11: 30 am – 11: 45 am
Opening MC

MC - Alan Treddenick

Derek Sienko

Masters of Arts in Military Psychology, B.S.W., Police Chaplain, RTWDM, & CVRP.
Derek Sienko is the President and CEO of Diversified Rehabilitation Group. He has over twenty years of experience in Mental Health and Return-to-Work Services. Derek completed a master’s degree in military psychology at Adler’s University. He holds a Bachelor of Social Work Degree from the University of Manitoba and is a Certified Vocational Professional with the College of Vocational Professionals. He is the author of the Client Focused Return-to-Work Model: Integrated Approach to Disability Management book.
In 1993, he suffered a work-related accident that resulted in severe physical and psychological injuries. He is a Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) survivor. His own experience and a deep understanding of PTSD and PTSI (Post Traumatic Stress Injury) inspired him to create, with his team of mental health professionals, a Traumatic Stress Recovery Program for First Responders, Veterans, and General Public. His compassionate heart and perseverance help those who encountered trauma to heal and get their “Lives Back.”
PTSD did not weaken me; it enriched my life.

11:45 am – 12:00 pm

Derek Sienko, Chief Mental Health Officer/CEO

12:00 pm – 12:30 pm
Walk Around Iremia

Paulina Sienko

Paulina Sienko has over eight years of experience working with injured workers with various physical and mental health conditions. Paulina’s professional background includes her Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from UBC Okanagan with expertise in mental health and vocational rehabilitation.

She is continuously exploring moments of stillness and self- awareness in her personal life which greatly complements her work in trauma, mental health, and overall well-being. When Paulina is not working, you will find her somewhere in nature, playing and exploring with her family, including her fur baby, Winston.

Darcy Kuhl

Masters of Social Work
Darcy Kuhl holds a master’s degree in social work from the University of British Columbia. Over the course of his career, he has developed many clinical programs designed to resolve struggles with anxiety, depression, and relationship challenges. He has over ten years of clinical experience specifically working in the field of trauma resolution and has been instrumental in the development of Diversified Rehabilitation Group’s traumatic stress recovery program. His training consists of a broad array of healing modalities including traumatic incident reduction therapy, EMDR, self regulation therapy, somatic experiencing, and cognitive behavioral therapy. In terms of clinical approach, he strives to provide a relaxed, emotionally safe, respectful, and compassionate environment where clients can begin to understand, and find relief from, their trauma symptoms.

1:00 pm – 2:00 pm

Embarking on a journey of transformation

Paulina Sienko & Darcy Kuhl

Through dynamic collaboration with Diversified Rehabilitation Group’s mental health clinicians, veterans, first responders, their loved ones, and the pivotal referring organizations, Paulina and Darcy will delve into innovative strategies aimed at fostering healing among veterans and first responders grappling with the profound challenges of occupational stress injuries, PTSD, and the often-overlooked burden of secondary trauma. Their insights will offer an overview, illuminating pathways toward resilience and recovery.

Christina Groth

I am Christina Groth, an esteemed Psychologist registered in the province of Alberta and British Columbia, who has recently set roots in the captivating province of British Columbia. I have a wealth of experience in diverse settings, from educational institutions to residential environments, and have flourished through years of dedicated training and application.

My practice is characterized by an eclectic approach that draws from a rich tapestry of therapeutic methodologies. Grounded in the foundational principles of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Solution-Focused Therapy, and Client-Centered orientations, my methods are underpinned by evidence-based practices and a commitment to tailored interventions.

What truly sets me apart is my unwavering belief in the significance of therapeutic alliances. Building upon the cornerstones of trust, empathy, and collaboration, I strive to create a safe and open space for transformative growth. My approach is inherently strength-based, encouraging clients to harness their innate capacities for resilience and positive change.

In my journey as a helping professional, I consistently challenge conventional paradigms and embrace innovative ideas. My commitment to excellence and open-minded exploration drives me to continuously seek diverse perspectives and dynamic solutions, all while adhering to the ethical standards set forth by the Canadian Code of Ethics for Psychologists.

While my professional journey is a central focus, my family remains the cornerstone of my life. Their unwavering support fuels my passion for fostering meaningful connections and transformative change.

I am a clinician who is dedicated to facilitating holistic growth and positive change through a rich tapestry of therapeutic experience. It would be an honor to accompany you on your journey toward well-being, empowerment, and lasting transformation.

2:00 pm – 3:00 pm Integrating close significant others in assessment and treatment.

Christina Groth

In the landscape of mental health care, the involvement of significant others is often underestimated yet undeniably crucial. These trusted individuals – whether family, friends, or partners – offer unique perspectives and support that profoundly influence assessment and treatment outcomes. Christina explores the importance of integrating significant others into the therapeutic process, highlighting the benefits of assessment and treatment, as well as the transformative impact of their active participation.

Lynne Wiseman

Lynne joined the Diversified team in 2021. She specializes with individuals with anxiety, depression, neurodevelopmental disorders, intellectual disabilities, and acquired brain injuries. Prior to this, she worked as a behaviour consultant in-home and within community settings and was the program director at a private centre.

For over a decade, she has passionately worked to improve the quality of life for individuals with exceptionalities and their families.

Upon formally embarking on her counselling journey, Lynne engaged in graduate level training from Yorkville University and California Southern University. She utilizes a wide array of healing modalities including crisis prevention, self-regulation therapy, dialectical behaviour therapy, and cognitive behavioural therapy. The opportunity to be a part of the Diversified Rehabilitation clinical team has allowed her to integrate her experience and expertise into a holistic approach towards supporting each individual’s unique healing journey.

Dr. Alan Smitton

I haven’t always been a psychologist. I came into this field later in life compared to my colleagues. As a lad in my early 20’s I pursued a career with the RCMP and thus because a RCMP Auxiliary member in Richmond, BC. In those days, the early mid-seventies, auxiliary members did most things a regular general duty member does including carrying a side-arm, driving police cars, attending autopsies and issuing tickets for moving violations. We also would attend court in support of the regular member with whom we rode with and if the file necessitated us attending by Crown.

During this time, I was also a paramedic with BC Ambulance or Emergency Health Services (EHS). I did this for a little over seven years. I spent the majority of my “on car time” stationed in and around Vancouver’s east side. We worked four on and four off. In my last year with EHS, I went to dispatch. In those early years, we worked in pairs and dispatched all of the lower mainland via incoming 911 calls as well as arranging and dispatching transfers from hospital to hospital and care homes.

I started back at UBC in 1981 having picked up a few credits from Douglas College ending up with a degree and diploma in elementary school education (B.Ed & Dip). I taught grade seven at Rocky Mountain elementary for four years in Elkford, BC prior to coming back to UBC to complete a MA in psychology. I then spend five years as an elementary/secondary school counsellor with the Surrey School District mostly in the inner-city schools for Surrey.

I then returned to UBC and started the PhD program. My father was a pilot during WWII flying Lancaster bombers. After 28 missions, he was shot down with two of his crew being killed in the process. My father bailed out and was subsequently hid by the French Underground in eastern Franch. He was sent home several months later after the US Army liberated that area. Sadly, however, one of the killed crew member’s family blamed my father for his death. My father suffered with PTSD and died early because of it.

My dissertation was based on my father’s experiences and its effects largely on me. My dissertation addressed the impacts of war trauma on the father’s sons and subsequently, on the family. After graduating, I worked as an institutional psychologist with the Correctional Services of Canada (CSC) at Kent and Mountain Institutions. Our main job was to interview inmates and write reports to the National Parole Board address recidivism threats when inmates became eligible for parole. We also conducted suicide risk and mental health assessments when inmates were placed in segregation.

I then went from CSC into private practice in Abbotsford. I was fortunate to have made connections with both Abbotsford Police and Fire Department as well as connecting with members of the RCMP who started referring other members to me. Several years into my practice, my wife obtained a position with the RCMP and we were transferred to Ottawa. My wife had made a connection with the then Human Resource Officer (HRO) of E Division. When the HRO was told what profession I was in, she asked if I would take the Division Psychologist position at Green Timbers, RCMP E Division Head Quarters. In 2015, I moved back to BC started with the RCMP.

When I started in Surrey there were two of us, but shortly after my arrival, my colleague quit the position. I was the only psychologist for over a year. Unfortunately, the job became too much and an offer to move back into private practice in Chilliwack arose. Although I worked in private practice, with the bulk of my clients being both RCMP and Abbotsford PD, I went back on contract with the RCMP reviewing RCMP regular member applicant psychological files and conducting clinical interviews on applicants. In 2020, I received a call from the then HRO asking me if I would return as a Chief Psychologist at E Div HQ. I started this position in May of 2020.

During my tenure in this position, I formulated and put together the Peer Support Response team with the help of Sergeant Ronda McEwen. This team is comprised of members and employees of the RCMP and response to all critical incidents. The result of this team is that psychologists are no longer needed to conduct critical incident meetings. Through material which I provided to Sgt McEwen, she developed an eight-day training from the material and research I provided to her. This program is the only one of its kind in the RCMP. Sgt McEwen and myself also formulated the Proactive Employee Health Support Unit (PHSEU), again the only one of its kind in Canada. This unit supports all levels of employee within the RCMP on a very wide range of topics and interventions. There were two main goals we were working on addressing; the reintegration of member back to work after a critical incident and extended absences from work, such at maternity leave or five-year care and nurturance leave, and on finding more support and resources for partners/spouses and families.

I have learned that the fragility of life is constant. There are no manuals on how to prepare for what we witness or experience. I have had the distinct honour of working within the RCMP meeting people who are keen to become RCMP officers. Likewise, I have worked with those who have not fared well as they approach the end of their careers, despite the level of enthusiasm and excitement at the start of their careers. In the first responder world, policing has its own unique set of challenges separate from those of the fire and emergency medical service. Over the course of my career and my personal background, I have learned to understand and appreciate fully these unique challenges and hope to bring my experiences and insights into the Diversified group.

3:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Stepping Stones to Success: Navigating PTSD Recovery and Return to Work for First Responders and Veterans

Moderator: Derek Sienko
Panel: Lyne Wiseman, Dr. Alan Smitton, Phil - past client

This panel aims to delve into the intricate challenges clinicians encounter when assisting clients in their journey to overcome Occupational Stress Injuries or PTSD and prepare them for a successful return to work. Moreover, it will explore effective strategies tailored to bridge the gap in returning to work for first responders and veterans, highlighting the unique complexities they face.

4:00 pm – 4:30 pm

Ned’s Wish - The Lasting Bond: A Voyage with Ned’s Wish Ambassador into the Lives of Retired K-9 Partners

Join Ned’s Wish ambassador on a journey into the world of retired K-9 police officers – loyal companions who’ve dedicated their lives to protect and serve alongside humans. These brave dogs symbolize loyalty and service, standing steadfast in the face of danger to safeguard our communities. But what happens when their duty ends? Ensuring their physical and emotional well-being post-retirement is crucial. From medical care to reintegration programs, we must support them as they transition to civilian life.
Honoring their legacy isn’t just a gesture; it’s a duty. By caring for these heroes, we uphold values of loyalty, compassion, and justice.

Jonathan Williams

Jonathan’s journey has been one of resilience and transformation. At 35, he embarked on a career with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, leaving behind his family to undergo rigorous training. His commitment and dedication were recognized with the Comradeship Award from the Royal Canadian Legion.

In 2017, the weight of trauma and personal struggles became overwhelming. His marriage, already strained, shattered when he discovered his wife’s infidelity. Jonathan’s resilience was tested, but he sought help, confronting PTSD, anxiety, and depression with therapy and medication.

During his medical leave, guided by his therapist, Jonathan rediscovered his passion for music. A seasoned singer-songwriter, music became his solace, leading him to produce an album titled “Rebirth.”

Accepted into the Traumatic Stress Recovery Program, Jonathan found solace and support, learning to trust again and manage his PTSD. This newfound strength empowered him to make the difficult decision to retire from the RCMP and pursue music full-time.

Now, with a new album on the horizon and performances throughout the Okanagan Valley, Jonathan’s story is one of redemption and embracing the next chapter with courage and resilience.

4:30 pm – 5:30 pm

5:30 pm – 6:00 pm
Performance by:

Jonathan Williams.

6:00 pm – 7:30 pm

DAY 2 – JUNE 13th

Chief Shahin Mehdizadeh

Shahin Mehdizadeh began his policing career with the RCMP in 1989. He is an accomplished police executive with more than 34 years of national and international policing experience.
Mehdizadeh has lived and served in four provinces and worked projects in every province throughout Canada in policing disciplines including general patrol duties, major crimes, drugs and organized crime, covert operations and national security. He has worked internationally with law enforcement partners in Europe, the US and Mexico as well as many Canadian agencies in numerous joint forces operations spanning from Vancouver to Halifax.
Mehdizadeh is a Member of the Order of Merit of the Police Forces (M.O.M.) and has a proven track record of success in leading initiatives to counter and prevent crime, promote public safety and build strong relationships with communities. His greatest accomplishment in life is his daughter Alexandra.

Morning Coffee and Muffins provided

8:30 am – 9:30 am Fostering a Smooth Return-to- Work and Innovative Strategies for Retention and Recruitment

Chief Shahin Mehdizadeh

Chief Shahin Mehdizadeh will discuss a critical aspect of law enforcement that often goes overlooked. Whether due to injury, trauma, or other reasons, the process of returning to work can be challenging for officers and their departments alike. However, by adopting a collaborative approach involving police officers, employers, and treatment providers, we can pave the way for a smoother transition and ensure the well-being of our law enforcement personnel.

Shahin will also highlight innovative strategies for recruitment and retention that foster a supportive environment and strengthen law enforcement agencies.

Sergeant Ray Savage

Ray Savage began his policing career in 2001. He is currently the national coordinator for the RCMP’s Reintegration Program – a member-led and peer-driven program, dedicated to ensuring members involved in traumatic or critical incidents, transitioning from administrative duties, or returning from extended leave are confident returning to full operational duties

9:30 am – 10:30 The National Reintegration Program: An initiative of the RCMP Employee Well-being Strategy

Sergeant Ray Savage

Staff Sergeant, Ray Savage’s presentation promises to deliver a comprehensive overview of an innovative program that has quickly become a standard of support within the RCMP community. Throughout the presentation, attendees will gain insights into the establishment of the program and the compelling data that underscored its necessity. Detailed discussions will cover the organizational structure, operational mechanics, and efficacy of the NRP, drawing from both internal metrics and external validation. Additionally, attendees can expect to be moved by compelling video testimonials highlighting the program’s impact. Finally, the presentation will conclude with a forward-looking discussion on the Next Steps, ensuring that all participants are informed and prepared for the future of this groundbreaking initiative.

Grant Edwards

Outside of a strongman and sporting career, Grant pursued a career within the Australian police. A commanding figure in the Australian police force, grappled silently with PTSD beneath his imposing exterior, confronting the stigma surrounding mental health within law enforcement.

Despite his strong and physically fit persona, Edwards faced inner turmoil, struggling to function both personally and professionally. Recognizing his deteriorating mental health marked a crucial turning point, challenging traditional notions of strength within the force. 

10:30 am – 10:45 am

10:45 am – 11:45 am
Silent Struggle:
A Strong Man's Battle with PTSD in Policing

Grant Edwards

Grant will speak about confronting his trauma head-on through therapy, self-care practices, and other support. He will also speak about the importance of mental health awareness and resilience, giving hope to those who are silently battling their demons.

Dr. Michael Ocana

Consulting Psychiatrist

Dr. Michael Ocana has over 20 years of experience as a psychiatrist. He specializes in trauma-specific psychotherapies. He was the medical director for the Adolescent Psychiatry Unit for 15 years and the consulting psychiatrist for the Kelowna Eating Disorders Unit for 20 years. Dr. Ocana is now a specialist in psychedelic psychotherapy for treatment-resistant depression, trauma, and chronic health conditions with the use IM ketamine.

11:45 pm – 12:30 pm

12:30 pm – 1:15 pm
Somatic Work with Trauma

Dr. Michael Ocana

Somatic Therapy offers a holistic approach to healing trauma by integrating the mind and body. Unlike traditional talk therapies, this approach recognizes that traumatic experiences are stored not only in thoughts and emotions but also in physical sensations and nervous system responses. Somatic Therapy empowers individuals to heal from trauma by reclaiming their sense of wholeness and resilience. Dr. Ocana will share his own experience as a somatically trained psychiatrist and what he has learned.

Deputy Chief Lucie Tremblay

Deputy Chief Lucie Tremblay (Retired) has over 35 years of public safety experience at the federal government. Upon joining the VIA Rail Canada Police Service in 2016, she was entrusted with managing police operations and administration. She also supported the corporate security strategy, contributing to the safety and security of passengers, employees, infrastructure, and rail operations.

A police executive veteran of the Canadian Armed Forces, she held numerous positions and command appointments as a Military Police Officer over 28 years of service with the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service, the Canadian Forces National Counter-Intelligence Unit and other groups. She deployed to Afghanistan to command the multinational brigade investigation team and was seconded to Criminal Intelligence Service Canada, contributing to the fight against organized crime. During her military career, she also had the privilege to work in police human resources, selection and training, and policy development. One of her career highlights was to lead the Military Police contribution to a large-scale domestic operation in support of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games.

A people-oriented leader focused on wellness and mental health, she contributed to advance the objectives of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP) in various capacities over the past 20 years. As a member and most recently Co-Chair of the CACP Human Resource and Learning committee, she led various wellness and psychological services initiatives. Since 2020, she is a member of the Canadian Institute for Public Safety Research and Treatment (CIPSRT) and the Public Safety Steering Committee (PSSC) which is a standing committee whose members represent federal, provincial, territorial, and municipal public safety organizations. The primary function of the PSSC is to engage in collaboration with CIPSRT, Public Safety Canada (PSC), and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) on matters related to the mental health and well-being of current and former Canadian Public Safety Personnel (PSP), their leaders, and their families.

Lucie is an MBA graduate from Athabasca University executive program, holds a bachelor’s degree in administration from College Militaire de St-Jean and also completed a certificate in Environmental Sciences.

1:15 pm – 2:15 pm Between Duty and Family: Navigating the Impact of Military and First Responder Cultures on Family Life

Deputy Chief Lucie Tremblay

In this presentation Lucie will talk about military culture and first responders’ culture significantly impacting family life, leading to challenges such as separation, stress, and uncertainty. She will also discuss some of the struggles that family members experience including supportive strategies.
She will examine if the organizations play a crucial role in supporting military and first responders’ families and what support and resources should be allocated to address the unique needs of families to promote well-being.

Derek Sienko

Masters of Arts in Military Psychology, B.S.W., Police Chaplain, RTWDM, & CVRP.
Derek Sienko is the President and CEO of Diversified Rehabilitation Group. He has over twenty years of experience in Mental Health and Return-to-Work Services. Derek completed a master’s degree in military psychology at Adler’s University. He holds a Bachelor of Social Work Degree from the University of Manitoba and is a Certified Vocational Professional with the College of Vocational Professionals. He is the author of the Client Focused Return-to-Work Model: Integrated Approach to Disability Management book.
In 1993, he suffered a work-related accident that resulted in severe physical and psychological injuries. He is a Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) survivor. His own experience and a deep understanding of PTSD and PTSI (Post Traumatic Stress Injury) inspired him to create, with his team of mental health professionals, a Traumatic Stress Recovery Program for First Responders, Veterans, and General Public. His compassionate heart and perseverance help those who encountered trauma to heal and get their “Lives Back.”
PTSD did not weaken me; it enriched my life.

2:15 pm – 2:30

2:30 pm - 4:00 pm
Navigating the Path to Mental Wellness: Insights from Diversified‘s Participants"

Moderator: Derek Sienko
Panel: Phil, Amanda, Johathan, and Rod – past clients.

Join us for an enriching panel experience where you’ll have the chance to immerse yourself in the inspiring narratives of individuals who’ve participated in Diversified’s mental health programs. They’ll candidly share their initial hurdles, emphasizing the pivotal role of a nurturing environment in igniting their paths to recovery. Discover firsthand the empowering strategies they’ve employed and gain invaluable insights into how they sustain their mental well-being. Moreover, this session invites you to engage directly with our panelists, offering a platform for your inquiries and curiosities.

4:00 pm – 4:30 pm
Mindfulness / Exercise

5:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Dinner & Networking

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