Speaking Engagements

Helaina’s traumatic experience as one of the few child survivors literally caught in the 9/11 attacks from start to finish, and physically living in the aftermath, qualifies her as a unique speaker, as did her experience getting sober at 22 and entering successful recovery from PTSD at 18, after persevering through many misdiagnoses. A lively and entertaining speaker, Helaina 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 is an impactful presenter to both professionals and youth and community audiences. Helaina is able to help young people who may not have the words to express their traumatic incident in their lives start to understand their experiences and choices. She has assisted individuals of all ages and backgrounds 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. Helaina brings warmth, laughter and hope to her audiences with a strong focus on the positive and always an inspirational message.


“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

Students and Schools:

One of the most amazing responses to this book has been the outreach I received from kids across the country who emailed me with poems, words of encouragement, and, most importantly, their questions. In answering their emails and setting up video chats with kids in classrooms from Alabama to Wisconsin, I realized that there was a real need to educate children on the topics of:

  • Living through 9/11 directly as a young person
  • 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:

  • 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 disasters, 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 interpersonal, societal or disaster-related traumas
  • How PTSD and addiction/alcoholism co-occur
  • The ways that PTSD inform our choices and our behavior as young people, women, and adults
  • Why PTSD is so often undiagnosed or misdiagnosed and why the disorder can often present as something else
  • Effective courses of treatment
  • Ways to make the distinction between social binge drinking or problem drinking and addiction in young adults
  • Differentiating social binge drinking from alcoholic drinking or self-medicating in young people

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
  • 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.