Speaking Engagements

Helaina is a lively and entertaining speaker and can connect easily with younger audiences and on mental health and addiction issues pertaining to young people, since she experienced so many herself and has spoken with countless other young and female members of the sober, PTSD, and other recovery communities.

By using humor and sharing her most vulnerable and painful experiences openly and honestly, she is able to connect with almost any audience, and always, always finds a way to bring the message back to hope and the solution.

As a journalist, researcher and avid learner, she is also now considered a knowledgeable expert by clinicians in the field and people of all genders and ages. Helaina is able to help young people who may not have the words to express their experience start to understand their experiences and choices. She can help women and men of all ages begin to connect the dots between their day to day experiences, thoughts, fears, feelings, behaviors, and what might be driving them. In sharing what has and has not worked for her and her peers, she can help clinicians better understand how to diagnose and treat trauma and addiction relating both to 9/11 and to everyday trauma and alcoholism.

Students and Schools:

One of the most amazing responses to this book over the past few months has been the outreach I received from kids across the country who emailed me with poems, words of encouragement, and, most importantly, their questions—so, so many important questions. In answering their emails and setting up video chats with classrooms from Alabama to Wisconsin, I realized that there was a real need to help educate and inspire children around this topic .

I would love the chance to speak with your students on any of the below topics, tailored to their specific age group (elementary school, middle school, high school, or university/college level):

  • Living through 9/11 directly as a young person—answering any questions relating to that experience.
  • How our current state of affairs has been informed by 9/11 and the events that followed.
  • Turning dark struggles into positive outcomes.
  • Suicide and crises prevention.
  • Overcoming hardships like bullying, trauma, mental health issues, and everyday teenage angst.
  • What PTSD, depression, anxiety disorder, and addiction/alcoholism look and feel like.
  • Fighting stigma around reaching out for help on any number of health and mental issues.
  • The ways in which the written word and journalism can be used as a tool to help educate and inspire social change.
  • How my journey led me down this career path of writing positive news after working towards an improved worldview.

If I can’t make it in person, I’d be happy to set up a Skype/Video chat!

Professional Speaking Engagements on Psychology, Addiction, Recovery:

I’m a rather animated speaker, if I do say so myself, with a unique story to tell and a ton of field research (interviews with other survivors, people in recovery, and medical professionals) under my belt that lends itself to providing insight on issues such as:

  • The way Post Traumatic Stress Disorder affects young people in complex ways- from childhood to young adulthood.
  • The current prevalence of PTSD, anxiety disorders, and addiction in relation to those affected by 9/11.
  • Coping with the everyday trauma that occurs for any number of reasons, like natural disaster, acts of war or violence like mass shootings, domestic violence, sexual abuse and rape, an unstable living environment, an alcohol parent, medical trauma, and other causes.
  • The young adult’s response to the cumulative impact of trauma from 9/11, everyday stressors and other inter-personal, societal or disaster related traumas.
  • How PTSD and addiction/alcoholism are related and often intertwine and overlap.
  • The ways that PTSD inform our choices and our behavior as young people, women, and adults.
  • Why PTSD is so often undiagnosed or misdiagnosed.
  • Identifying the symptoms present in disorders that are often co-occurring with PTSD
  • Why the disorder can often present as something else.
  • Courses of treatment that did, and did not, prove effective for me personally.
  • Ways to make the distinction between social binge drinking or problem drinking and addiction in young adults

Journalism, Social Entrepreneurship, Media for Social Good:

As an editor, freelancer, co-founder and editorial director of a start-up digital news site dedicated to people and organizations working to make a better future, I can discuss:

  • The challenges we face as journalists in 2017.
  • The modern media and journalism landscape as a medium for social good and social change and involvement
  • Creating our own opportunities to forge meaningful careers.
  • Navigating the obstacles and road blocks to a career as a journalist writing stories of impact.
  • How to start a business when you have absolutely no business experience whatsoever.
  • Our responsibility as journalists to continue to cover meaningful and well-reported news in a way that is accessible and relevant to consumers in a modern-day digital world, especially as it pertains to social media.

Please contact me directly at HelainaWrites@gmail.com to discuss any of the above.

“Helaina Hovitz connected with my middle school students immediately and kept them engaged for over an hour. She discussed complicated social issues in a way that made them accessible to adolescents and challenged them to think more deeply.  She’s a magnetic blend of caring counselor, cool big sister, and harbinger of hope.”

—Kathryn Walseman, Middle School Teacher, Virginia

“Ms. Hovitz really brought the experience of 9/11 to life for my students, who sometimes have difficulty with empathy and understanding the world beyond their own community. She told the kids about what happened on that day and how it has affected her in a thoughtful and insightful manner.  Their questions were welcomed and it allowed the students to have a personal connection to the events of September 11 in a way that a news article could not. Immediately after the conversation, the students asked our library to purchase copies of Ms. Hovitz’ book so that they could explore her life further. As a teacher, any request to continue learning means the lesson and the interaction with “real history” were of value!”

—Denise Stanfa, Teacher, Heineman Middle School, Illonois

Recovery Resources

If you or someone you know is looking for a place to start their journey to recovery and healing from PTSD, addiction, or depression, you may find these links and the below information helpful.

It is possible to recover, heal, and live with almost any type of issue or disorder with the right guidance and support. Please don’t be afraid to reach out for help in your area and talk to a therapist, counselor, mentor, or other trusted professional who may be able to help you figure out a plan of action. There is always a way to make things better, even if sometimes we have to fight to find the right way. Don’t give up!

The National Association for Mental Illness: this is a helpline with staff are on call to answer questions about symptoms, treatment options, local support groups and services in your area, and legal issues.

Healing From Trauma: An excellent read that will help you understand almost everything you are going through, have gone through, and where you can go from here.

The International Society for the Study for Trauma and Disassociation: For children and adolescents, specifically, this offers a wealth of information including what to do if you feel you or your child have been misdiagnosed.

There is also great information for parents at Smarter Parenting.

The Crisis Text Line: If you are a teen who feels overwhelmed, in urgent danger, and have nowhere to turn, send them a text.

The World Trade Center Health Program: If you think you might have physical or mental health symptoms resulting from 9/11, this program provides specialized medical and mental health care to survivors affected by the attacks at no out-of-pocket cost. Inquire if you lived, worked or went to school or daycare south of Houston Street or in parts of Brooklyn within 1.5 miles of the WTC site. The World Trade Center Health Registry conducts surveillance of health of enrollees by sending out and analyzing responses to periodic follow-up WTC health surveys.

Suggested Therapy for PTSD:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): A form of therapy aimed at helping you develop skills to change patterns of thought and behavior that are causing you distress and creating difficulty in your day-to-day life.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT): This is like CBT, with the addition of a specific set of skills: mindfulness (staying present in the moment) distress tolerance (the ability to handle stress and pain in tough situations without trying to change it) emotional regulation (how to change feelings that are uncomfortable or upsetting without reaching for something outside of yourself to do it) and interpersonal effectiveness (how to ask for what you want and communicate effectively while maintaining healthy relationships with others).

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR): Another form of therapy used to treat PTSD by helping your brain and your body process the actual traumatic memories and all of the physical and emotional sensations associated with that memory to find relief.

When we talk about “skills” we talk about the ability to do something well, and of course, a skill has to be learned and practiced. Soon enough, it becomes a natural part of who you are and what you do, which is pretty awesome. The original definition of skill means “to make a difference.”

What To Do If You Think You Have a Problem With Drinking or Using:

If you think you may have a drinking problem, check out this questionnaire to get a sense of what may or may not be “normal” drinking. This is also a great test to take. If your substance of choice is not alcohol, you may want to take the test with your “preferred” substance in mind.

Try dropping into any local 12-step meeting, take a seat, listen and share. These meetings are free, anonymous, confidential, and take place in almost every city in the world. If you search for “Intergroup” or “AA” and your city and state, you will most likely find a list off days, times, and locations.

You also may want to find a therapist, counselor, or local rehab that can give you more information and a plan of action.

Just remember: the majority of us cannot do it alone.

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