Following a 3 hour in-service training for Student Assistant Counselors and
Guidance Counselors K-12th at Clifton School District, January 2010:
"I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your excellent workshop this past
Monday! Your info and additional strategies/techniques were very inspiring and will be very useful to me as an Elementary
Counselor. You definitely have
the "gift" of dealing with the complex issues involving the multi-faceted areas of loss. I plan to spread
the word regarding your professionalism as a Grief Recovery Specialist."
School # 17
you for your excellent presentation. It was very insightful and you have a great presentation style!"
Clifton School Counselor
“Lisa is an amazing, intelligent, passionate,
and professional person. Words cannot explain how important she is and the work that she does. Lisa has touched lives in
so many ways and is a true blessing. As a therapist, working with grief and loss can be very challenging but Lisa is a remarkable
resource. I first met Lisa while she was presenting to an organization that I am a member. Her message was so powerful and
passionate that I had to have Lisa present to my school where I run a counseling program. She worked with the community,
students, parents, teachers, and staff members regarding the difficulties of grief and loss. I have also invited Lisa into
a graduate course that I teach titled Schools, Community, and Substance Abuse where she provided a lesson for future counselors.
These graduate students are still complementing her visit. Lisa’s presentation is extremely powerful and has benefited
many individuals. Thank you Lisa for all that you do and for being the wonderful person you are!!!”
February 3, 2010
Great Results ,
Dana Kaspereen, PhD, LPC, LCADC
“I am honored to write a recommendation for Lisa Athan. Lisa's presence in our school community
has made a huge difference for our students. Lisa’s message is powerful and masterfully delivered in a caring and
compassionate manner. Lisa has earned the respect of our teachers, administration, and especially our students. I give
Lisa my highest recommendation and welcome the opportunity to discuss this excellent counselor in greater detail. Sincerely,
Peter Renwick Principal, Westfield High School” December 21, 2009
Principal of Westfield High School
“Lisa gave a presentation to our school guidance counselors
that was outstanding: informative, lively, articulate, meaningful, everything we could have asked for. The audience was totally
engrossed from start to finish. The material benefited not only every student in the school whom we can now counsel more
effectively but every counselor personally as well. Her talk was so dynamic and energetic that we all felt we could have
sat for another two hours. I personally wished I had taped the presentation so I could play it back and digest all the little
gems of wise advice that were interspersed with her accounts of actual cases. She also brought much wonderful resource material--one
of the counselors was so excited, she said she wanted to read each and every book on the table. I would heartily recommend
Lisa as a speaker for teachers, counselors and/or students, especially in a situation where many are dealing with crisis
situations. She is loaded with good advice and good strategies.” November
13, 2009, Shelly Levine, Head of Guidance at Delbarton School, Mendham, NJ
Top qualities: Great Results , Personable, Expert
February 15, 2010
Dear Mrs. Lisa Athan,
students of Woodbridge Township Middle Schools and myself would like to thank you for your intriguing and motivating “Grief
Speaks” presentations. It was a treat having you speak to our sixth graders about such important
topics as, divorce, moving, coping with loss, death, healthy ways to grieve, bullying, diversity, safe adults, and friendships.
In today’s society so many of our students are experiencing more and more of these challenges at
a young age, it is important for them to learn how to handle these pressures in a healthy manner.
After reading over the sixth grade writing responses, I was impressed to see how many students have now found a “safe”
adult that they can talk to, both in and out of school. I was also happy to hear how many students used
the coping tools you provided them with. One student knocked on my door to share with me that he decided
to write a letter to his grandfather that had recently passed, and we read it together out loud, what a huge stress relief
for him. Other students commented that no one had ever spoken to them about moving, and how being the “new
kid” can be really hard and intimidating. As a Student Assistance Counselor, I was happy that you
were able to reach out to them and share with them that certain feelings are “normal” and are expected throughout
their personal lives. Much of the student population that I work with has witnessed their parents separate
or divorce, which creates a lot of mixed feelings, anger being a common one. Students didn’t realize
that it is Ok to feel angry; it’s what you do with that anger that can be therapeutic or damaging. Your
assemblies reassured them that there are healthy ways to vent and cope, as well as be a good friend to others.
Lisa, thank you for your wonderful Grief Speaks presentations
to both our students and faculty. Our faculty and I learned new therapeutic tools to help better assist
our students in time of crisis.
Woodbridge Township Middle Schools
after the New Jersey School Counselor Association Spring Conference April, 17, 2009 @ Kean University:
"Lisa is well-informed and gave useful information", "Lisa
is a wonderful speaker and very knowledgeable about loss and grief. This was a valuable seminar. Truly worthwhile!",
"Lisa Athan was an excellent speaker. She had a great sense of humor and had many creative ideas, such as the scream
box, grief ball and Play-Doh.", "Lisa was AMAZING! Her information was so valuable -so important and I sincerely
appreciate that NJSCA sponsored her presentation.", "I will be able to use everything that I learned", "Working
in an urban setting, my students suffer and witness death, separation, illness as everyday occurrences. This seminar will
help me better understand and reach out to them", "Lisa was superb! Thank you!", "Lisa was a fantastic
speaker. She is extremely knowledgeable and dynamic. The strategies I learned will be useful." "Your work
and presentation regarding grief is second to none. I appreciate all of the tips that will help me to meet the needs
of students and staff who are dealing with grief. Thank you for the informative and interesting workshop. The books are wonderful
resources.", "Outstanding presenter. Very well presented. Many resources", "Lisa was phenomenal.
I would definitely attend future conferences if she is the presenter." School Counselors from all over NJ (K-12)
Other comments following presentations by Lisa:
Hired Lisa as a education/child
psychology consultant in 2009
"I had the privilege to
meet Lisa when she gave a workshop on Grief and Loss at Passaic County Technical Institute. Co-Workers and I concur that this
was one of the best continuing education training we have ever attended. Lisa is extremely knowledgeable in her field and
captures each audience she meets as she is a dynamic speaker with a myriad of resources and tools to work with a grieving
population. I have always been impressed by how much she puts herself into her work with the populations she serves -- her
enthusiasm is contagious. Ever evolving in her scope of practice, Lisa’s expansion from consultant into the world of
her own company is a credit to her drive to help others and I am pleased to have her as a colleague.” November 13, 2009, Stephanie Nauta, Guidance Department
at Passaic County Technical Institute where Lisa spoke to the staff for a 2 hour professional development workshop on Supporting
Grieving Students. Stephanie is also a professor at Kean University and had Lisa speak in 2008 and 2009 to her graduate students
on The Importance of Supporting Students Coping with Grief).
"Lisa provided an outstanding
opportunity to the parents and staff at our school. Lisa is an amazing speaker and her caring, warmth and expertise are most
Julia Mazzarella, Head of Guidance Department Livingston, NJ regarding a parent presentation
Didn't want this day to go by before thanking you so much for your wonderful presentation last night!!!
It was informative, heart-wrenching and even humorous (if that is possible!) ...making it a totally enjoyable evening
for all! It doesn't matter how many times I hear you speak, you continue to enlighten and inspire me to
think outside the box in my daily practice! I apologize for the crowded conditions but you certainly were responsible
for the large audience attendance. Thanks so much again......I passed your info along to my principal...thought you would
make a great speaker for our PTO. Monica Cattano, School Nurse, Jefferson School, Summit
"Your presentation on grief was enlightening and powerful. I know my colleagues
echoed my feelings and you gave us plenty of food for thought as we go forward in our jobs. "
Elementary school guidance counselor Summit, NJ
presenter was excellent, motivating and relevant to this population." high school teacher Union,NJ
"I am more aware of the grief factor in my students now." high school teacher Union, NJ
"Outstanding presentation. My staff
had such positive and favorable comments about her presentation and it was very informative. This helped all of our teachers."
Virginia Ladd, Director of Far Hills Country Day School, Intermediate School
"I was at the ASAP conference and wanted to share with you how moving your presentation was! Your energy, passion
and information provided a much needed jolt to my system when dealing with my students, staff and parents! Thanks you very
much." Patricia Colvin-Costanza, MA,Ed, SAC of Morris Knolls High School
"The feedback from the attendees from the When a Parent Has Cancer conference was consistently
excellent, reflecting your passion and knowledge about the topic." Ellen Levine,Program Director of the Wellness
"The program was beyond excellent. It reached everyone
in that room on a personal level, digging into their own experiences of loss. We all have some. Lots of emotion and lots of
tears, and as you and I know, that is what builds empathy and increased understanding. Lisa was a great presenter. I think
the presentation really bonded the faculty. I think it has changed some lives today." Head of Far Hills
Country Day School in NJ
"I want to thank you for your presentation. I enjoyed the simple alternatives that you
offered for helping angry students diffuse their anger. I also enjoyed your demonstration with the dominoes as it helped me
realize what a child's life is like when they have a death in the family or experience a loss. Calling us all up to look at
all the pieces on the floor, underscored how difficult it must be for a child and how it affects their ability to cope or
not to cope. Your matter of fact presentation and sense of humor made this workshop both entertaining and knowledge enhancing.
I have recommended your presentation to both my principal and the director of guidance for workshops for our staff." School nurse at East Windsor Elementary School after attending Lisa's presentation
on :When a Parent Has Cancer
provided our district guidance department with valuable information regarding grief, loss and mourning. Lisa reviewed the
behavioral signs of mourning in children and adults and offered suggestions for how to help students and staff with loss.
Of particular note was the grief expert's advice that "grieving takes time and we need to provide the time needed, something
we don't allow in this society." Each counselor commented on the value of the suggestions and requested that she come
back next year. Whether a students or a staff member experiences the loss of a friend, a pet, a grandparent or a peer, it
is important to recognize the impact a loss has on a person's functioning. Lisa Athan has helped the counselors in the Livingston
school district to better understand the academic, behavioral and social/emotional impact of grief in order to provide appropriate
support." Julia Mazzarella, Director of Guidance at Livingston Public Schools
"A big thank you for your wonderful presentation in Westfield last week to all of
the school nurses. I found the information to be very valuable, in addition to being very well presented!" Principal
at Westfield Elementary School
"Thank you for sharing your expertise and knowledge which were
very informative to our members. Many of our attendees have commented saying how helpful you were to them and how comforted
they felt by your understanding and your caring presence. Your insight and compassion were evident making everyone in the
room feel connected to you in mind and heart." Dee Stanzione, Compassionate Friends of Parsippany, NJ
"Lisa's presentation was excellent. I am a school psychologist
at Union HS and although I have knowledge about grieving, Lisa provided a very in-depth perspective, and had me thinking "outside
the box" regarding the grieving process. The most relevant information I took away from the talk was that grieving did
not only mean dealing with death. Lisa gave me a whole new perspective when talking to people who have lost something and
may be going through the grieving process, even though it wasn't a death. Lisa engaged the staff with meaningful examples
and situations we could all relate to. I would like her to come and speak to our students and suggested this to our principal."
Susan Strumph, School Psychologist Union High School
"Lisa's talk was phenomenally good. She was spontaneous and absolutely
riveting, with more than enough important content to anchor the stories she told. I wish I had the talk on tape, both for
the value it had for me personally as well as for professional use. I intend to have her come speak to the family medicine
residents here at the hospital. I would urge all of the other residencies to consider her as well." Stuart
Green, MHP, LCSW, Assistant Program Directorat Overlook Hospital Family Medicine Residency Program
" On behalf of the Overlook Hospital
Bioethics Committee, we would like to thank you for the informative and inspiring program you presented on grief. Your passion
and experience in the field of grief work was clearly demonstrated, and the committee members were riveted by your very accessible
presentation. I know that many were touched and reminded of our shared vulnerability to loss, grief and mourning. By the questions
and comments which followed, people were clearly thinking of how to integrate some of the concepts you spoke of into our daily
practice and also so how to bring education about grief work to the programs, departments and colleagues we work with. Thank
you for the dynamic presentation.
" Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Overlook Bioethics Committee.
"I wanted to thank
you for conducting the grief presentations in our guidance classes for Oak Knoll School. I want you to return next year. I
would also like you to present to parents and the teachers. Thank you so much for your insightful presentations."
Norma Delepine, Director of Guidance at Oak Knoll School
you are such an awesome speaker and facilitator. I was inspired watching you lead this group. And you kept everything so real.
I am so glad I found you. I look forward to working with you in numerous capacities in the future. Thank you for coming to
our community at a time in need." RoseMarie (following a community tragedy involving the violent
death of a teenager, I spoke to a group in the community about two months after the loss at their request. The father
of the teen who died got a chance to speak out about feeling left by the community at his time of need, due to people
being afraid of saying the wrong thing. It was a sacred space to listen to this father tell his community what he
needed from them, to get through this unspeakable loss. The community listened and responded in wonderful ways. I was honored
to be there to facilitate).
"Thank you for your presentation to the staff at Watchung
Hills on February 12, 2009, on Helping Kids Deal with Grief. The feedback received from your workshop was excellent.
Many commented on your energetic and positive personality as well as being "in-tune" with students' needs and what
can be done for them.
Again, thank you so much for contributing to a day spent engaged in professional conversations, and we look forward
to future sessions.
Beverly DiGeronimo, Director of Curriculum and Instruction, Watchung Hills Regional
High School, Warren, NJ
Grand Rounds for Pediatricians: (Overlook Hospital and Morristown Memorial Hospital, August 2009) "What
Pediatricians Need to Know about Grief and Loss". Here is a short comment about your presentation given Friday, 8/28/09 at Overlook Hospital;
" Grief hits all age
groups. Lisa Athan's presentation defines grief in all its forms and helps us restore that satisfaction in practicing
the art of medicine. She is a wonderful resource."
Frank P. Frenda, M.D.
"During CONTACT We Care's 12 week training course to prepare listeners to answer hotline calls, we hold
one class focusing on grief and how to speak with and listen to callers in grief. We have looked to Lisa Athan as a
grief counselor and speaker to head the ever important and intense discussion of grief. She not only focuses
on the many different types of loss and grief, but what to say and what not to say to those who are grieving dues to losses.
It is an open discussion on different types of losses, from the loss of a pet, to the loss of a loved one, to the loss of
a not so loved one, to the loss of a job or relationship, to the loss of a dream. She uses different exercises and demonstrations
to illustrate how to care-give for others who are grieving due to one or many losses. The final exercise allows
the students to become introspective and think of times in their lives they have dealt with a loss or losses, to think about
the feelings that went along with that loss and to remember the people around them during that time of loss. This
is key to our class where we use empathy to support and listen to our callers. This class is an emotional class for
our students, which leads to a better understanding of their role as caregivers. Our students always remark favorably
about this class, and Lisa as the discussion leader."
Sue Fasano, Contact We
Care, Coordinator of Training and Volunteers
Presentation to high school health classes:
"Thank you for your wonderful presentation about coping with grief and loss. As you mentioned in your
talk, this is a taboo topic that many people just aren't comfortable discussing. Perhaps this leads to the greater problem
we see in society, an inability to cope with loss effectively and instead through many unhealthy strategies, most notably,
the use of alcohol and drugs, and violence towards ourselves and others. Your knowledge and passion for helping people in
this area is evident, rare, commendable and inspirational.
presentation you gave was both educational and moving. You covered so many aspects about grief and loss and illustrated your
point with real life stories. A very effective portion of your presentation was the anonymous question and answer session
at the end. Based upon the questions and comments that the students wrote, it is clear that you touched many of them and that
they could related to the topic. I am sure you personally helped the students whose questions you answered. Many told
me in my class today that they were affected by your presentation. I know that as a teacher, the knowledge I gained will most
definitely help me help students in time of need.
I hope you come back.
I highly recommend that you continue going to other schools as well. I know they will benefit just as much. Feel free to use
me as a reference. Susan L. Kolesar, Health Educator at Westfield High School