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Helping Children & Teens Cope with Grief and Loss, featuring Dr. Alex Karydi


Watch Dr. Karydi's session here. 

Watch the Q&A discussion here

Download our suicide prevention resource guide here.


Download the handout from this session here.

Learn best practices from Dr. Karydi and five panelists who share expertise regarding helping students and children cope through difficulty: Alex Karydi, Ph.D., LMFT, LAC, CSAC; Lori Burney, MPA; Kristin James, MS, MPH, LPC; Sabrina Richardson, LMFT; Cynthia Wray, LPC.

Dr. Alex Karydi, LMFT, LAC, CSAC, is a licensed therapist that has focused her research and clinical work on the impact of minority stress on LGBTQI populations, focusing on youth navigating their gender identity. She has a master's in clinical psychology, a postgraduate diploma in research psychology, a Ph.D. in Clinical Sexology, and a Ph.D. in Marriage and Family Therapy. She has worked in various systems, including school systems, the justice system, social services, and behavioral health, providing care as a therapist, grant writer, and program manager since 2007. In 2015, she was appointed as the Program Director for the South Carolina Department of Mental Health – Office of Suicide Prevention, where she was responsible for establishing the first state office for suicide prevention, embedding the Zero Suicide framework in the state mental health care system, and developing the state school suicide prevention program. In 2019, she accepted the Project 2025 Director of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, a nationwide initiative to reduce the U.S.'s annual rate of suicide by 20 percent by 2025. She is now responsible for implementing the first 24 hr. emergency behavioral health services roll-out at Callen-Lorde Community Health Clinic a global leader in LGBTQ healthcare.

Panel Discussion will feature:

Lori Burney, MPA, Executive Director of Mental Fitness. Lori Burney joined the Mental Fitness Team in July 2019 as a Development Consultant to assist with fundraising strategies and strategic planning.  Upon the recent resignation of the organization’s Founder, Ms. Burney was selected to serve in the role of Executive Director. She brings more than 20 years of marketing, management and nonprofit experience to Mental Fitness. Lori’s professional career began in 1998 as the Advertising Manager for The Greenville News Media Group. Her desire to serve the community eventually led Ms. Burney to earn a Master of Public Administration and Nonprofit Management (MPA) degree from Clemson University. Since 2014, she has served as a Nonprofit Leadership Consultant for various charitable organizations including LiveWell Greenville, Harvest Hope Food Bank, the South Carolina Land Trust Network and The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS). In her spare time, Lori enjoys traveling with her teenage sons, writing inspirational children’s books and serving as an animal rescue volunteer.

Kristin James, MS, MPH, LPC, NCC.  A native of Spartanburg, Kristin James is the Clinic Director for Spartanburg Mental Health.  She graduated from USC-Upstate in 1997 with a BA in Psychology, from UNC–Chapel Hill in 1999 with an MS in Rehabilitation Psychology, and a Master’s in Public Health (concentration in Emergency Management) from American Military University in 2010.   She has been with the Department of Mental Health since 2001, working primarily with children dealing with trauma in a variety of roles such as DSS Liaison clinician, DJJ liaison clinician, School Mental Health clinician, and Children’s Services Director.  Kristin currently serves on the board for Mental Health America – Spartanburg, the SC Society of Certified Public Managers, and is Chairperson for the Upstate Healthcare Coalition.  

Sabrina Richardson is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with Intrinsic Therapy LLC, a private practice she owns and operates. Sabrina graduated from the University of South Carolina Upstate earning a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy from Converse College. Since passing the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy State Licensure Exam, Sabrina dedicates time and energy helping families, couples, individuals, and organizations recover from life’s difficulties. Sabrina has a specific focus in relational conflict, emotional disturbances, and disordered eating including compulsive overeating. As a therapist, Sabrina’s approach centers on thoughts (language of the mind) and emotions (language of the body) that determine our behaviors and impact the choices we make. Sabrina is the Director of Living Beyond the Tool, a conference for individuals who have had or are considering weight loss surgery. She is a Clinical Member of the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (AAMFT) and Obesity Action Coalition (OA). Sabrina is certified as a Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapist with Project Best and pursuing certification as an IAEDP certified eating disorders specialist (2021 is the Year!).

Cynthia Wray, LPC, is the Clinical Director at A Child’s Haven and Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC).  She has worked with the agency for nearly 14 years, serving in a variety of direct service positions.  In her current role, she has the benefit of maintaining an active caseload, so she can continue to work with the children and families that are enrolled in the program, in addition to managing the administrative tasks.  She previously worked with young children in primarily educational settings, such as Head Start, before joining A Child’s Haven, and was thrilled to find that this agency addresses the social-emotional and mental health of young children by considering all aspects of their developmental needs, as well as focusing on their healing and growth within the context of family relationships.  Her earliest direct experiences in working with young children was in the mid 80’s, when she escorted two 4-month-old infants from Calcutta (Kolkata) to New York City, where they were met by their adoptive parents for the first time in person.  She recalls having so many (unspoken) questions about what the babies had experienced, how they would adjust to their new lives and how their new parents would adjust to them too.  She no longer leaves the questions unasked and helps navigate the questions her clients and their families have – guiding them toward identifying answers and solutions that work for all.
Fireside Chats fulfill training requirements for SC Foster Parent Association certification.  To qualify, foster parents should attend the live or recorded session, then email Robyn Hussa Farrell at to obtain a printable certificate. 

All Fireside Chats are hosted by Robyn Hussa Farrell, MFA, E-RYT, co-founder and CEO of Sharpen, who has spent the past 15 years collaborating with state agencies, educational systems, public health and psychology researchers to build and deliver evidence-based programs to K-12 schools and communities.  In her role, Robyn is responsible for building collaborative partnerships and developing programs that deliver powerful prevention content into communities across the U.S.


As part of her work in population health and prevention, Robyn built mindfulness, stress reduction and yoga-based programs for patients struggling with a variety of mental illnesses. Her work has been published in peer reviewed medical journals and in other publications.  Robyn’s experience working in treatment settings and with researchers in schools led her to scale her community-based programs by adapting them into video-based modules and a series of documentaries on mental health and educational initiatives.  Many of Robyn’s programs have been implemented through the award-winning non-profit, Mental Fitness, which Hussa founded in 2006 to deliver evidence-based content and resources to communities.


A leader in the mental health and wellness provider community, Robyn is certified in Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) through the University of Massachusetts Medical School model, as well as a certified trainer for NAMI NH CONNECT Suicide Postvention program.  Hussa has proudly served as Spartanburg county youth suicide prevention coordinator for the Behavioral Health Task Force for United Way of the Piedmont, is a member of the Dean’s Advisory Board for the Johnson College of Business and has served as a mentor for the StartME Spartanburg entrepreneurship program.  Robyn served as the Resilient Schools mindfulness trainer in Spartanburg, Cherokee, Richland and Lexington County Resilient Schools initiatives, is a Founding Member of the Eating Disorder Recovery on Campus in Boston, an advisory committee member for Way to Wellville/Rethink Health Community Engagement and Listening Campaign, and has been a Keynote and Invited Presenter in over 50 medical and educational conferences.

About Sharpen

Sharpen works with national researchers and practitioners to deliver evidence-based mental health programs that improve behavioral health outcomes for communities. Sharpen Fireside Chats are a free resource for communities and aspire to bring the latest best practices to more individuals, communities and families.

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