The 18th Annual Liberation Based Healing Conference, two dynamic and unique days, to be held at Montclair State University on November 3 and 4

Civil Rights icon Minnijean Brown Trickey, one of the Little Rock Nine, to be a featured speaker

The Institute for Family Services, in partnership with Montclair State University and the Tri County Care Management Organization (CMO) of Hunterdon, Somerset and Warren Counties in New Jersey, is proud to present the 18th Annual Liberation Based Healing Conference (LBHC), on November 3 and 4, 2023. This dynamic and unique event brings together a diverse array of individuals, including scholars, activists, educators, students and community members from across the United States. The conference serves as a vital platform for collective discourse on the manifestations of coloniality within traditional education and therapeutic models.

The panels at this conference use an intersectional approach to dissect how societal-level markers, such as ability, age, class, citizenship, ethnicity, gender, race, religion and sexual identity, show up simultaneously in community and individual levels as power and privilege.

Year after year, the Liberation Based Healing Conference, founded by the Institute for Family Services, creates opportunities to share strategies that promote relational healing and liberation.

Dr. Rhea V. AImeida, founder of the Institute for Family Services, says, “It’s a celebration of our work, our creativity and our culture, and an opportunity to change the world for the better in both incremental and profound ways.”

One of the standout panels, titled “Reparative Voices for the Injuries of Enslavement and Genocide: Unveiling Hidden Narratives of Black Belonging, Community in Appalachia, and the Holocaust,” will feature panelists sharing their lived experiences in systems of coloniality. 

This panel is particularly relevant in light of recent events, including the dropping of AP Black History studies in Arkansas schools and the increase in hate speech by neo-Nazi groups in Florida. The panel aims to empower individuals to find their own sense of belonging in oppressive systems. Notable panelist Civil Rights icon Minnijean Brown Trickey is one of the Little Rock Nine — a group of African American teens who desegregated Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1957. Her daughter, Spirit Tawfiq, an important voice as well, will be a part of this timely discussion. Spirit is the creator and host of the “Roots of the Spirit” podcast, a space to galvanize change through honest conversations about identity, race, racism and intersecting social justice issues. Another panelist, Clory Jackson, will share her personal journey being a Black person born and raised in Appalachia, and Avi Wisnia will recount his experiences as the grandson of a Holocaust survivor through music. 

Day two will delve into such topics as body politics, immigration, gender and race discrimination in the workplace, and more. One panel, “Deconstructing the Challenges of Living with Disabilities and Taking Back the Body Politic of Otherized Body Images,” will explore the challenges individuals with disabilities face and discuss paths for healing and living. The panel will address negative body image stereotypes and advocate for weight neutrality and fat-affirming practices in medicine.

The “Structural Challenges and Liberatory Paths for Children with Autism” panel will discuss the disparity of access to special needs services by different populations and the negative impact not only for the child, but the family as a whole. Utilizing Special Education Law and Individualized Education Programs (IEPs), this discussion will also feature storytelling and reflections on the challenges faced by communities when structural obstacles disrupt the path of healing for autistic and other special needs children.

The Liberation Based Healing Conference is organized by the Institute for Family Services and is sponsored by Montclair State University and the Tri County Care Management Organization (CMO) of Hunterdon, Somerset and Warren Counties in New Jersey.

Dr. Rhea V. Almeida, the founder of the Institute for Family Services, emphasizes that the conference’s focus is on integrating Indigenous cultural healing practices with mainstream psychology.

Montclair State University is located at 1 Normal Avenue in Montclair, NJ. It is easily accessible, located less than an hour from New York City and reachable via public transportation. 

Registration fees include breakfast and lunch for both days, and the event offers 16 continuing education units (CEUs) for social workers, marriage and family therapists, and counselors. Additionally, ASL/English interpreters will be available during the conference.

To register for the 18th Annual Liberation Based Healing Conference and for a full list of speakers, please visit