Helping Teens, a global symposium addressing anxiety, depression and recovery for teens and families


Helping Teens Symposium: Aspen District Theatre

Helping Teens Through Family & Community, an Aspen Connect Global Symposium Presented by AspenRealLife, took place Monday, May 20th at the Aspen District Theatre, and was filmed live on our @AspenRealLife Facebook Page. Helping Teens addressed anxiety and depression in teens, and spoke of how it can lead to substance abuse and addiction. Helping Teens held conversations about hope, and changing social norms, not just for teens and families, but also for communities.



Invited Guest Speakers

Christina King, Founder of Aspen Strong

Moderator: Aspen Strong Founder Christina Marie King MA, LPC

Christina is a licensed professional counselor with a practice in Aspen, CO. She is the founder of Aspen Strong, and co-founder of the mental health symposium, Changing Brains Changing Lives. Aspen Connect is excited to be co-sponsoring that symposium.

Christina began her career in community mental health and detention centers in Philadelphia PA, her hometown. Her psychotherapy and coaching practice is grounded in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, neuroscience, exposure therapy, and a live BIG mindset: boundaries, integrity, and generosity.

Christina is a member of the Denver Speaker Bureau, providing education on work life balance, trauma and shame resilience, and maintaining mental hygiene as a leader. She has been recognized for her leadership and advocacy in mental health on various panels and magazines, specifically distinguished as Aspen Peak’s Woman of Influence in 2015. Christina is an Aspen Rotarian and humbly serves on the Pitkin County Health Board. She hopes to bring her expertise in mental health and her love for Aspen to address vital needs of our community.

Jamie and Eli Blume, Along Their Way

Jamie Blume, experienced holistic wellness coach, professional mentor, and Founder of Along Their Way. Jamie will be sharing the platform with her 19 year old son Eli who speaks of the struggle, hardship, and un-comfortability that are all a part of a healthy life.  Important feelings to meet each day. Four years ago Eli lacked that understanding and instead ran from struggle and feared hardship, avoiding being uncomfortable with his emotions that many—maybe all—kids feel:  Rather than face uncertainties and the emotions that came with them, he hid from them and resorted to drugs to cope, ending relationships, hurting people, and hurting hisself. In December 2015, Eli started his time in the wilderness of Utah.  Immediately thereafter, enrolling in two years of “aftercare” at a therapeutic boarding school in Montana. He has no idea where he would be if he had not been there. He knows where he is now, and who he is.

Eli returned home for the last semester of high school and graduated with his class.  It was not easy to be home. But it was only by overcoming these challenges, alone and with the support of his family and others in the community, that he was able to grow and create a pathway towards a healthy life.  He now lives alone and is a student at CU Boulder.

Cath and Ashley Adams

Catherine Adams, Photographer and founder of Aperture of Hope, photography workshop programs designed as a creative outlet for kids who are facing challenges in life. Catherine will be sharing the platform with her 14 year old daughter Ashley who has reached out to and spoken with kids in small group settings about how substance affects the family letting them know that they are not alone on this journey.

E.B. Nix

E.B. Nix, the Family Engagement Coordinator/Child Welfare Caseworker for Pitkin County’s Adult and Family Services Department. A recovering addict and alcoholic almost 4 years sober, E.B. began coping with life with alcohol and marijuana, ending up being admitted to Valley View Hospital’s ER from alcoholism, a day where she knew she needed to make a choice of living or dying. She chose life. E.B. celebrated 4 years of being sober this past May 5th, 2019 and is honored to share her message of hope, the importance of connections, self-forgiveness, self-compassion, and to never give up on yourself.

6:20 – 6:25

Bruce Benjamin, Pitkin County Juvenile Investigator


6:25 – 6:40

Powerpoint Presentation


Sonja Linman, Lead Prevention Specialist Roaring Fork Schools



Moderator: Liz Means, Executive Director for A Way Out.Elizabeth is the Executive Director for A Way Out, a non-profit organization addressing substance abuse and providing access to care for area residents. Liz has been in non-profit leadership for over 20 years working with the Aspen Institute, Aspen Center for Integrative Health, Aspen Science Center, Telluride Science Research Center and Pathfinders for Cancer.

Today, Ms. Means’ focus is on supporting youth, adults and families in overcoming the effects of substance use disorder and co-occurring mental health issues by coordinating and providing a comprehensive graduated program of care for each individual ensuring access to high level evidence based care to get well. All services are free and open to the public and over 500 are served per year.

Dr. Sabrina Adams

Dr. Sabrina Adams is a colleague of Dr. Ben Peery who couldn’t be with us this evening. Dr. Adams, is a Doctor primarily located in Glenwood Springs, with another office in Denver. She has 6 years of experience. Her specialties include Emergency Medicine and Residency.

Lance Nabers, Aspen Mind Springs Director

Lance Nabers is the Aspen Mind Springs Director. Integrated Care has been a passion of his  for the last 10 years and he has worked in the Behavioral Health field for over 20 years at every level of care, and recently served as the Chief Behavioral Health Officer for two Federally Qualified Health Centers in rural Connecticut. Lance has worked extensively in Primary Care settings and in various hospitals around the country. As a therapist he specializes in working with Trauma Victims, Domestic Violence Victims, Substance Abuse and working with children, adolescents, adults and geriatric populations. Lance is an Art and Sand Tray Therapist, trained in EMDR, Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy.

Katherine Sand, Aspen Family Connections Director

Katherine Sand is the Director of Aspen Family Connections. With thirty years of background work in local and internationally-based non-profit organizations, Katherine is finding her work at  Aspen Family Connections to be the most powerful and rewarding of her professional career. Since moving to Aspen in 2001, she has been involved with a number of wonderful organizations in the community, including Theatre Aspen and the Aspen Thrift Shop, for which she is proud to still serve as a Board member and chair of the Grants Committee. Katherine is married to Scott and they have twin sons, Alex and Jeremy, who are sophomores at Aspen High School.

Created by an impressive coalition of nonprofits and agencies in the Roaring Fork Valley, led by Pitkin County Human Services and the Aspen School District, Aspen Family Connections opened their doors for business in November 2017 and work in a range of ways, from holding events to providing parenting education and support opportunities, and setting up Family Meetings to wrap highly targeted support around families dealing with a wide range of challenges.

Sonja LInman, Lead Prevention Specialist

Sonja Linman is the lead Prevention Specialist for Roaring Fork Schools and has worked as a youth advocate for over thirty years, beginning her career in the mid-80s as an intern at Dane County Juvenile Detention Center, and at an inpatient adolescent treatment center in Madison, Wisconsin. By 1989, she had moved to Colorado and was present at the inception of Yampah Mountain High School and served students and families there for over 23 years.

Sonja pursued a larger systemic understanding of the interconnectedness of our society by working for a detox center, a local community foundation, venturing into traditional education for a time, sitting on numerous non-profit boards, and running for political office in an attempt to steer more cultural commitment and community will toward wellbeing and health. This web of experience has continually fed her curiosity and research into the complexity of human nature. Throughout, she has maintained a commitment to unlocking the solution to adolescent crisis, and imbalance that results in self-destructive behaviors such as addiction.

Sonja received her bachelors in Education from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, a MA in Curriculum and Assessment from Adams State, and an Educational Leadership Principal licensure from Mesa State University, both in Colorado. Sonja also possesses a Colorado Addictions Counseling License and continues to work for kids as a Prevention Specialist in Glenwood Springs, CO. Sonja has thirty years of experience working beside, and standing behind our most vulnerable students and families. She and her family live in the mountains of Colorado where they embrace every day as a gift.

Craig Farnum, Aspen Hope Center

Craig Farnum, PhD, NCC School Based Clinician, Craig Farnum is a school-based clinician at Basalt High School for the Aspen Hope Center. He has a passion for helping students improve their mental health so that they can be successful and happy in school and life.  Craig has been an educator for 18 years and has worked with students and families in the roles of middle school counselor, high school counselor, college counselor and college psychology instructor.  Craig is a Nationally Certified Counselor and holds a Ph.D. in Counseling & Educational Psychology.

Pitkin County Deputy Cameron Daniel

Pitkin County Deputy Cameron Daniel, Roaring Fork Valley 3rd generation native and Level II Certified Addiction Counselor.

Aspen Connect Producer

Jillian Livingston is the Founder and Executive Producer of the blog and the networking organization, Aspen Connect. A brand influencer, connector, motivational speaker, travel writer, vlogger and mom of three teen boys, Jillian produces Aspen Connect inspirational human interest conversations that are live-streamed and distributed to an engaged audience of over 30K monthly followers.

Thus far she has produced nine monthly Aspen Connect conversations to sold out houses at prominent Aspen locations.

Aspen Connect will now be planning a Teen & Family Health Conversation Series in the Fall. Many has expressed interested in sponsoring. If you would like to join us, please email: [email protected].

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