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
"Thank 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.
Student Assistance Counselor
Comments 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).
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 obvious.
Julia Mazzarella, Head of Guidance Department Livingston, NJ regarding
a parent presentation
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
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. "
Tom Demuro, Elementary school guidance counselor Summit,
"The 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
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
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 Community
"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
"Lisa 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
"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
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
"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
"Lisa, 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
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
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.
The 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