Special Event Series

Clinical Grand Rounds

Our monthly program brings together recognized experts in the mental health and addiction fields to share insights and best practices from their research and clinical experience. 

The series includes both virtual and in-person events, and runs every third Thursday of the month from 12-1:30pm. These presentations are free and open to the public ($10 if requiring CEUs, free CEUs for Root staff). If interested, please register below for each session. 


“The Neural Processes Underlying Alcohol Use as A Coping Behavior”

JUNE 15, 2023 · 12:00pm – 1:30pm · ONLINE

Many individuals with alcohol use disorders (AUD) seek drinking to avoid or otherwise manage painful physical and psychological states. Yet, how the neural processes underlying pain play a role in the maintenance of AUD remains under-explored. This presentation provides recent findings from Dr. Thang Le’s laboratory which examines the neural circuit supporting pain and its involvement in promoting drinking as a coping behavior.

July 20, 2023

“Introduction to Psychedelic Assisted Therapy”

12:00pm – 1:30pm

Synopsis & Objectives:

Psychedelic assisted therapy is a gamechanger for mental health.  Research and data show how effective psychedelics can be to treat addiction/use disorders, depression, anxiety and PTSD. 

In this workshop you’ll understand how to:

– Sift through the hype.  We’re saturated with the media, start-ups and dubious claims surrounding psychedelic assisted therapy.  So  much misinformation and unrealistic expectations surround the power and potential these medicines hold.  This is your opportunity to gain knowledge and ask questions to become acquainted with more options for improving mental health and wellness.

– Become informed on the landscape & best practices.  What’s evidenced-based and legit, what’s legal, what’s on the horizon?  From retreats to clinics, mail order and telemedicine, know how to navigate the landscape and know what to look for to meet your needs.

– Learn what to avoid.  Back to those dubious claims, practices and sourcing, learn about common pitfalls and mistakes.  For example, how do you really know that you’re just microdosing and what you’re even taking?


Peter Grayson, LCDP

Recovery Strategist / Founder, Principal, The Flow Initiative

August 17, 2023

“Brain Injury in Combat Sports”

12:00pm – 1:30pm

Synopsis & Objectives:

The Professional Fighters Brain Health Study (PFBHS) is a longitudinal cohort study of boxers and mixed martial arts (MMA) fighters designed to better understand the effects of repeated blows to the head on brain structure and function over time.  This past weekend, we presented our new findings at the American Psychiatric Association conference and with a paper to follow.  We will then be presenting another new set of findings at the Alzheimers Conference in July with another manuscript to follow.

To understand the effects of repetitive blows to the head.  To identify structural brain changes that have been associated with competitive fighting.  To understand mechanisms of brain injury.

Bharat Narapareddy, MD

Neuropsychiatrist, Assistant Medical Director, IOL/Hartford Hospital, Asst. Professor, UCONN / Adjunct Asst. Professor, Johns Hopkins

September 21, 2023

“Nothing About Us Without Us: Building Capacity for Community-Engaged Research on Recovery Supports for Young Adults with Opioid Use Disorder”

12:00pm – 1:30pm

Synopsis & Objectives:

Recovery support services are widely available within substance use treatment centers and provide important resources to people in treatment and recovery from opioid use disorder.  However, there has been very little high-quality research on this topic.  This presentation will highlight the Collaborative Hub for Emerging Adult Recovery Research (CHEARR), a cross-organization collaborative initiative that is housed at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine.  CHEARR uses a community-based participatory research approach to partner with communities directly impacted by the opioid epidemic to advance research on recovery supports for people with opioid use disorder, with a particular focus on young adults.  The presentation will provide an overview of how partnerships between impacted communities, practitioners, and researchers can advance science and clinical practice on this crucial topic.


  • Describe the current state of research on recovery support for young people with opioid use disorder.
  • Describe how community-based participatory research can be utilized to develop partnerships between researchers, impacted communities, and practitioners.

Explain the mission and purpose of the Collaborative Hub for Emerging Adult Recovery Research in advancing the science on recovery supports for young adults with opioid use disorder.

Kristyn Zajac Ph.D., is an assistant professor in the Pat and Jim Calhoun Cardiology Center at UConn Health. May 4, 2022 (Tina Encarnacion/UConn Health)

Kristyn Zajac, PhD

Associate Professor of Medicine, Calhoun Cardiology Center, University of Connecticut School of Medicine

October 19, 2023

“Managing Burnout in Clinicians Working with Substance Use Disorders”

12:00pm – 1:30pm

Synopsis & Objectives:

Addressing healthcare provider burnout is a moral, ethical, and business necessity for the sake of providers and patients.  High provider burnout has been linked to a number of problematic workplace and personal outcomes such as increased turnover, decreased patient safety and satisfaction, decreased quality of care, and increased provider mental health concerns including risk for suicide.  Substance use treatment providers in particular face unique challenges given the nature of their work.  Given the potential for numerous negative outcomes, it is necessary to understand what burnout is, common contributing factors, how substance use treatment providers are uniquely impacted, and both personal and institutional interventions for mitigating and preventing burnout.

By the end of this presentation, participants will be able to:

  1. Define burnout including its 3 main dimensions and the job demands-resources model.
  2. List at least 3 factors which exacerbate burnout for substance use disorder (SUD) providers specifically, and discuss various reports of burnout across disciplines (e.g., physicians, counselors, peer supports)
  3. Identify at least 2-3 personal and institutional interventions for mitigating burnout and/or promoting engagement in SUD providers.
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Cassandra Holinka, PsyD

Assistant Professor & Clinical Psychologist, UConn Health, Department of Psychiatry

November 16, 2023

“How Basic Science Can Inform Prevention and Intervention: New Advances that Promise to Revolutionize the Addiction Treatment Landscape”

12:00pm – 1:30pm

Synopsis & Objectives:

The field of genetics is rapidly advancing, and personalized medicine promises to change the way we approach prevention, intervention, and treatment. What does this mean for the field of addiction?  In this talk, Dr. Dick will provide an update on what we know about the genetics of addiction, how new advances are having an impact on our ability to prevent and intervene in substance use disorders, , and how you can apply this knowledge now to help individuals and families.

Following the presentation, participants should be able to:

– Describe how genetic influences impact substance use disorders 

– Explain the current state of gene identification and precision medicine 

– Identify characteristics that indicate genetic risk 

– Apply knowledge about genetically influenced risk pathways to prevention/intervention efforts



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Danielle Dick, Ph.D.

Director, Rutgers Addiction Research Center / Greg Brown Endowed Chair in Neuroscience / Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School

December 14, 2023

“Adolescent Suicide, Assessing the Risk and Responding to the Challenge”

12:00pm – 1:30pm

Synopsis & Objectives:

Review of epidemiology and risk factors of teen suicide.  How to develop protective factors, ensure safety and to provide support.

Michael Kisicki MD is a psychiatrist at UConn Health. February 21, 2023 (Tina Encarnacion/UConn Health)

Michael D. Kisicki, MD

Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry, Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, UCONN School of Medicine

January 18, 2024

“The Assessment of Decision-Making Capacity in Adults”

12:00pm – 1:30pm

Synopsis & objectives:

Coming soon!

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Cristina Sanchez-Torres, MD

Board-Certified Adult and Child Psychiatrist

February 15, 2024

“Treating Transgender Clients: Clinical Skills and Affirming Environments”

12:00pm – 1:30pm

Synopsis & Objectives:

Transgender individuals are at higher risk for co-occurring substance use and mental health diagnoses than their cisgender peers.  Many transgender people may avoid substance use treatment as providers lack knowledge of working with this population.  It is recommended that treatment centers and clinicians become aware of the unique needs of transgender clients to enhance treatment programming and create an environment which is inclusive and affirming.  This presentation will review the foundational factors to provide effective clinical treatment to trans and gender non-conforming populations.  This presentation will also review various aspects to transgender clinical treatment while providing recommendations as to how to make treatment centers safe and affirming environments.  

– Participants will identify how the needs of transgender/ gender non-conforming individuals differs from gay, lesbian, bisexual, and other communities.  

– Participants will identify the process of treatment for individuals who identify as transgender or gender non-conforming. 

– Participants will list ways they can create inclusive and safe environments for transgender clients.

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AMHCA President / Department Chair at the University of Bridgeport / Author of Co-occurring Mental Illness and Substance Use Disorders

March 21, 2024

“Suicide and Addiction: Things to Consider when Transferring Care”

12:00pm – 1:30pm

Synopsis & objectives:

Coming soon!

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Yvette Bonilla, LMSW

Owner and CEO, Suicide Care Consulting Services, LLC

April 18, 2024

“Wounded Healers & Loss”

12:00pm – 1:30pm

Synopsis & Objectives:

Persons working in the helping professions experience a significant amount of loss.  The addiction epidemic is compounding these losses, yet we generally do not talk enough about the impact that loss has on our staff, the dynamics that grief has on us and how we can more effectively support those impacted by loss.  This training is intended for all audiences from peer staff to administrators and is intended to support organizational strategies to help workers to understand and support healing strategies and things to consider when a loss occurs within the program. 

– Discuss organizational strategies to support staff during periods of grief.

– Describe strategies for organizational leadership to assess and incorporate staff wellness support into regular supervision

– List signs to watch for that staff may be struggling with grief

– List resources that organizational leadership can utilize to support staff who experience grief as a result of their role

– Use structured outreach so they are better prepared to communicate with grieving families and loved ones

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William Stauffer LSW, CCS, CADC

May 16, 2024

“Mothers, Pregnancy and Substance Use Disorders”

12:00pm – 1:30pm

Synopsis & Objectives:

At the conclusion of this presentation, the participants will demonstrate an understanding of:

  1. Substance use disorders as a disease with multiple treatment options.
  2. The safe treatments available for a pregnant woman who has an opioid disorder, with the best outcomes resulting from opioid agonist medications, methadone or buprenorphine combined with psychosocial treatment modalities.
  3. The risks of alcohol use in pregnancy.

Dr. Rao
Associate Professor, Program Director, Psychiatry Residency Training Program, Psychiatry UCONN Health


Dr. Wright
Psychiatry Resident / Psychiatry Residency Training Program, University of Connecticut School of Medicine, UConn Health

June 15, 2023

“The Neural Processes Underlying Alcohol Use as A Coping Behavior”

12:00pm – 1:30pm

Many individuals with alcohol use disorders (AUD) seek drinking to avoid or otherwise manage painful physical and psychological states. Yet, how the neural processes underlying pain play a role in the maintenance of AUD remains under-explored. This presentation provides recent findings from Dr. Thang Le’s laboratory which examines the neural circuit supporting pain and its involvement in promoting drinking as a coping behavior.

07-29-2021 headshots

Thang Le, PhD

Postdoctoral Associate, Department of Psychiatry, Yale School of Medicine