Please indicate your forums references during registration. These forums are each worth 1 hour of continuing education. regbutton.png

300 Series

Friday, October 6, 1:45 – 2:45 p.m.



Models and Fidelity in Integrated Care: Getting Started! (Part A)

Tai Mendenhall

Lisa Zak-Hunter

Laura Sudano

In the last five years there has been an explosion of evidence to support patient and family-centered models of integrated behavioral health care. It is important that anyone planning to work in a medical setting with diverse populations learns the essential elements and applications of these models. This 2-part forum will introduce evidence-based integrated behavioral healthcare models, fidelity methods, and screening protocols that attendees will need to know and understand prior to seeking employment in a medical setting. Part A will focus on an evidence-based model designed for family therapists practicing in a primary care setting.



Postmodern Ethics in an Era of Black and White

Adam Froerer

Carla Smith

Christopher Belous

This forum will review the concepts of power and privilege and consider how these post-modern contexts intersect with ethical decision-making practices. Participants will be introduced to the concept of “brave spaces,” will assess their own social location, and will discuss how these post-modern ideas fit within a modern dominated climate of right or wrong.



In the Absence of Family: How Lives Are Shaped by Incalculable Losses

Alice Lynn

This forum will provide an in-depth exploration of the lasting effects of the incalculable loss of family on the individual. Research on the changing American family, where increasingly more individuals will be without family sometime in their lives, will be interwoven with life-affirming stories and inquiry into how one survives and overcomes the presence of absence.



Intervention Exchange: Creative Activities for Supervision

Sarah Woods

Veronica Kuhn

This forum will focus on the sharing and collection of creative, experiential supervision activities for use in MFT education, training, and supervision. Presenters will share four adapted supervision activities they have successfully used in their own teaching and supervision. Attendees will share experiential activities they have developed, and a collaborative document will be created and provided for attendees’ future use.



Black Youth and Therapy: Bridging Research and Practice

Shardé McNeil Smith

DeAnna Harris-McKoy

This forum will provide an overview of barriers and facilitators of mental health service use among Black youth derived from empirical research, discuss clinical practices that can be used to overcome these barriers in order to engage Black youth in therapy, and highlight the need to bridge research and clinical practice to advance the profession of MFTs.



LGBTQ Youth in the Foster Care System

Ashley Landers

Noah Ginger

Brittany Robinson

LGBTQ youth are overrepresented in the child welfare system. This forum illuminates the complex experiences of LGBTQ youth in foster care. Common misconceptions about LGBTQ youth and implications for MFTs working with LGBTQ youth and their families will be explored. The experiences of LGBTQ youth in foster care and current research literature can offer guidance to MFTs.



Gender-Mindful Supervisors: Ambassadors of Social Equality

Silvia Kaminsky

Shelley Hanson

Marvarene Oliver

Erin Schaefer

Silvia Kaminsky

Supervisors must be mindful of multiple dynamics when assisting new clinicians in attending to the many systemic and contextual issues in the therapeutic process. However, gender often remains a silent demographic “elephant” in the therapy room. The profession has shifted to 70% females, yet males often lead academic programs. This session explores gender in this changing professional context.



Keeping the Promise: Vet Centers Helping Veterans and their Families

Holli Kelly

James McAuley

When a veteran returns home post-deployment, reintegration can be challenging for both the veteran and family members. This forum focuses on the unique ways vet centers work with readjustment issues and the services vet centers provide to veterans and their families face after they return home from a war zone or conflict.



Neuroscience and Symbolic-Experiential Family Therapy

Thomas Roberts

Michael Chafin

This presentation connects the dots from Whitaker’s ideas to recent findings in neuroscience. Of central importance in this discussion are his beliefs about theory, the ineffectiveness of the left hemisphere in resolving emotional problems, the importance of new experiences, the personhood of the therapist, the increasing of tension to resolve problems, and the use of play, humor and absurdity.



Deconstructing Older Adults Sexual Scripts

Megan McCoy

Bertranna Muruthi

Andrea Farnham

Julia Cockrill

Maria Bermudez

Sexual intimacy plays a significant role throughout every developmental life stage and is incredibly important in the later stages when relationships with loved ones are vital, and there is increased the risk of social isolation, loneliness and high rates of depression. Sexual scripts about intimacy may deter intimacy in older people. These learned scripts can then be deconstructed and re-constructed.



The Use of Technology in  Marriage and Family Counseling

Ye Luo

Kristina Nelson

In today’s world, technology is permeating every aspect of people’s lives. This session will (a) inform the audience of technology resources available for use in marriage and family therapy, and (b) demonstrate techniques integrating technology (i.e. smart phone/iPad applications, videogames, SMS) that may be beneficial in marriage and family counseling. Opportunities to participate in experiential activities will also be available.



The Meaning of Obesity among Marriage and Family Therapists

Darren Moore

Monique Willis

LaKeisha Wiliams

Angela Kimbrough

Taylor Chandler

Jacob Mok

Issues related to obesity has gained significant attention in recent years as an epidemic that has profound impacts on the well-being of individuals, couples and families impacted by the condition. This forum will provide participants with key information on as well as strategies to evaluate and train students on how to work with clients, individuals and couples impacted by obesity.

400 Series

Friday, October 6, 3:00 – 4:00 p.m.



Models and Fidelity in Integrated Care: Getting Started! (Part B)

Angela Lamson

Francisco Limon

Rola Aamar

Jennifer Hodgson

The skills family therapists typically apply in a medical setting are related to assessing and treating mental health illness. However, a critical skillset that is becoming paramount for family therapists working in healthcare centers on behavioral health. Best practice behavioral health screening tools and evidence-based interventions when responding to behavioral health concerns (e.g., physical activity, healthy eating, sleep-hygiene, smoking cessation) will be presented for use with diverse populations across the lifespan.



Using Affirmative Language with Sexual and Gender Minority Clients

Michelle M. Murray

Mary R. Nedela

Sarah M. Steelman

April L. Few-Demo

The language used in therapy is extremely important, and may be especially important when working with sexual and gender minority clients. Data from a survey concerning the language sexual and gender minorities use when referring to sexual and gender identities informed considerations for therapists when working with these clients. Awareness of the importance of language can help therapists work more affirmatively.



Satir’s Communication Stances and EFT's Pursue-Withdraw Cycles SESSION FULL

Matthew W. Carlson

Megan W. Oed

Maria Bermudez

This presentation will detail and apply an integration of Satir’s Communication Approach and Emotionally-Focused Therapy. Specifically, Satir’s communication stances and EFT’s pursuer-distancer conceptualization will be combined to create a nuanced view of couple interactions. Satir’s communication stances give therapists a language to identify individualized patterns of interaction while the pursuer-distancer provides a relational framework of interaction. Implications will be discussed.



MEND: Children, Families and Chronic Illness

Daniel Tapanes

Brian Distelberg

Deepti Vaswani

Ginger Simonton

Griselda Lloyd

Sean Fitzgerald

Exploring the complex individual and family dynamics related to health and illness is an important part of MFT practice. Presenters will lead participants through concepts and frameworks of the MEND model of treatment designed to treat chronically ill children and their families. Research and outcomes will also be presented as evidence of effectiveness.



What is Spiritual Abuse? Building a Clinician’s Guide

Emily Gary

Is spiritual abuse a unique phenomenon? In this forum, attendees will learn how spiritual abuse has been defined, discuss whether it is a unique form of abuse, examine themes within the literature on spiritual abuse, and consider recommendations for working with clients who have experienced this type of abuse.



Family-Centered Approach to Treating Heroin and PTSD in Women SESSION FULL

Jessica Chou

Shannon Cooper-Sadlo

Rachel Diamond

This presentation will explore a gender-specific family-centered treatment approach to substance use for women and their families. Original research supporting engagement in family-centered treatment for women, specifically mothers, diagnosed with PTSD and heroin dependence will be presented. Participants will learn treatment considerations for women and families impacted by heroin dependence and PTSD and how to advocate for a family-centered approach.



Disability as Power: Destabilizing Sexuality as Functionality

Shaquinta Richardson

Andrea Farnham

Jerry Gale

Samantha Skurja

Bringing the conversation about disability and sexuality into the forefront is crucial for family therapists because disability has the power as a concept to destabilize how we currently think about sexuality in terms of “functioning”. This proposed forum will offer a conceptualization of disabled sexuality as power and offer clinical case presentations and systemic practical applications.



Online Therapy: Enhance Your Practice and Reach More People

Kathleene Derrig-Palumbo

Online Therapy is a medium that transcends geographic and cultural limitations. This forum will guide you to adapt strategies for promoting healthy relationships to this useful and confidential medium. This forum will also look at the new policies around online therapy. Online Therapy provides clients a creative way to heal families across multi-national and cultural boundaries.



Mindfulness with Children in School Settings

Diane Gehart

David Siegel

Matthew Kloeris

In this forum, therapists will learn about developing mindfulness programs for working with children in school settings, providing opportunities to advocate for the profession while expanding one’s own practice. Presenters will share their work with preschool and K-5 school-based mindfulness programs and in private practice, highlighting improvements in academic and mental health outcomes.



Allies in the Fight: Working for Justice with Clients and Communities

Sheila Addison

Clinicians often struggle to address clients’ stress from current events, including political and social discourse. This forum will propose specific techniques for encouraging clients to share feelings of anxiety, vulnerability, and anger that arise in response to outside events, and methods for supporting and empowering client resiliency. Clinicians will also learn skills for being allies in their communities.



Marriage and Family Therapy Practice Research Network (MFT-PRN)

Lee Johnson

Richard Miller

Shayne Anderson

Angela Bradford

The MFT-Practice research network (PRN) helps therapists efficiently, and at no cost, assess client progress over the course of therapy. Monitoring client progress improves clinical outcomes and will become more important as insurance companies move to value-based payment methods of reimbursement. Using an internet-based system, the assessment process is automated, making it user-friendly and practical for clients and therapists.



Breaking Barriers: Addressing Racial Trauma in Therapy

Jamila Holcomb

Given current United States race-relations, ethnic-minority families are at an increased risk for experiencing racial trauma. However, few clinical resources exist to address the symptoms related to experiencing or witnessing racist incidents. This workshop will facilitate an in-depth discussion of racial trauma, explore Self of the Therapist factors, and discuss strategies for addressing racial trauma within the therapeutic context. 

Learning Objectives

    - define racial trauma and understand its prevalence, its presentation, and how it influences ethnic-minority families.

    - explore Self of the Therapist factors that might facilitate or impede the discussion of racial trauma in therapy.

    - integrate conversations about race within my clinical practice, and address racial trauma with ethnic-minority clientele.

500 Series

Saturday, October 7, 8:30 – 9:30 a.m.



Designing a Business Plan for Working in a Healthcare Setting

Jennifer Hodgson

Irina Kolobova

Amelia Muse

Historically, family therapists have believed challenges with Medicare reimbursement or same-day billing were insurmountable within integrated healthcare settings. There has been a shift in this understanding; there are financial models and examples available now for how to financially sustain MFTs in these positions. It is important for MFTs to understand the critical components of sustainability in integrated care settings. MFTs are now able to build a compelling business case and advocate more effectively to current and potential employers about their added value and return-on-investment within medical settings.



Support and Relationship Quality in African American Couples

Ashley Merritts

The purpose of this study was to examine whether initially low levels of support behaviors observed among cohabitating and married African American couples significantly predicted higher levels of negative behaviors (specifically hostility) in their interactions two years later. In addition, the analyses examined whether these later levels of hostility predicted relationship satisfaction over time.



Effectively Working With Sexual Assault Void of Bias

Samantha Heuwagen

Christopher Belous

Why are some therapists afraid to tackle the complexities of working with sexual assault survivors and untangling the web of traumas? Through supervision, personal therapy, and discussions with colleagues, clinicians can overcome their own bias and limitations surrounding sex and sexual trauma. This presentation will encourage and discuss evidence based, sex positive approaches to working with sexual trauma.



A Review of MFT Process Research: Enhancing Therapeutic Change

Ryan Seedall

Melanie Faustino Hansen

In this forum, the presenter will provide a substantive review of process research that has been done in MFT journals in the past 25 years and what we now know about adapting and improving therapy process. Presenter will also highlight potential ways that process research can be more fully infused into supervision and training of therapists.



The Role of the MFT in the Eating Disorder Treatment System

Ashley Hicks White

Felisha Younkin

Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of all mental disorders (Arcelus, Mitchell, Wales, & Nielson, 2011). This forum will inform clinicians of a family treatment approach for eating disorders and the unique role of the MFT in providing integrated care when working with this population. Data from adolescent and adult treatment settings will be presented.



Integrating Spirituality into Teaching, Supervision, and Therapy

Jacqueline Williams-Reade

Elsie Lobo

Gabriela Gutierrez

Spirituality (including religion, practices, values, etc.) is an important element of meaning-making that can form the basis of effective interventions. Clinicians must be trained to explore their own biases and learn skills needed to conduct respectful spiritual explorations with a diverse set of clients. This session will explore practices that are necessary to grow in both spiritual competence and humility.



Mental Health Series in a Transitional Resettlement Community Center

Charity Somo

Desiree Seponski

Denise Lewis

Savannah Young

Refugees often come from devastating circumstances such as war and crimes against humanity; consequently they are vulnerable to numerous mental health disorders. When mental health treatment is delivered during the first three years following relocation, refugees can show meaningful recovery. This forum will present the implementation of a series applied to address mental health needs of recent refugees.



Bridging Two Worlds: MFTs and Pediatric Oncology

Morgan Stinson

Andrea Meyer

Bowden Templeton

Deepu George

Anna Hernandez

With the substantial growth of medical family therapy (MedFT), there remains a need for specialized training in unique medical settings. MedFTs often struggle with how to infuse brief systemic work, adapt to patients needs, while also collaborating with a variety of healthcare providers. This forum discusses key strategies and relevant interventions for working in a pediatric oncology setting.



Cutting Edge Research and Practice with LGBTQ Families SESSION FULL

Erica Hartwell

Sheila Addison

Kristen Benson

Lindsay Edwards

Katie Heiden- Rootes

This forum will feature a panel of researchers and clinicians who will present their original research and clinical projects highlighting work with LGBTQ populations. Participants will learn about promising practices for working with sexual orientation and gender identity in relational therapy. Panelists will discuss working with individuals, couples, children, and parents



Attachment Security in Couples with a Bipolar Partner

Regina Bordieri

Couples therapy is commonly overlooked in treating bipolar disorder despite evidence of a reciprocal relationship between bipolar symptoms and dyadic adjustment. This presentation will explore strategies for increasing attachment security in bipolar couple relationships in order to enhance relationship quality and reduce bipolar symptoms. Original research on bipolar couple relationships and resources to support clinical intervention will be presented.



Therapeutic Educational Programs for Students with Disabilities

Erika Beckles

Participants will learn about mental health supports and their role in the public educational system. Additionally, participants will learn about the process of program development for a therapeutic educational program for students with severe and chronic mental health issues, implementation of a program and multi-tiered approach and interventions to provide supports to students, staff and parents.



Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome and the Black Family

Taimyr Strachan

DeAnna Harris-McKoy

Racial discrimination in the United States, specifically as it influences members of the Black community, is the subject of much popular and scholarly discussion and debate (Stopford & George, 2014). This presentation will discuss PTSS and propose integrating a PTSS lens with feminist and contextual models of family therapy as treatment interventions for oppression related anxiety and depression


600 Series

Saturday, October 7, 9:45 – 10:45 a.m.



Supervision and Consultation: How to Provide it and Where to Seek it when Working in a Healthcare Setting

Angela Lamson

Keeley Pratt

Jackie Williams Reade

There are several things that supervisors and supervisees need to know prior to working or supervising clinical work that is provided in healthcare settings. Attendees will learn how to select a supervisor who has the expertise and training needed to supervise effectively in health care contexts. Supervisors will receive training on how to adjust their style(s) and method(s) of supervision to accommodate the unique interdisciplinary clinical encounters and ethical challenges in healthcare settings.



"So, How Did You Two Meet?:" A Narrative Therapy Approach to Working with Couples who Met Online

Dana Riger

Despite its popularity, societal perceptions of online dating are still largely negative.  This forum will present research findings that examine the psychological effects of social stigma, and reveal themes in the way people think about, discuss, and negotiate the stories they tell of meeting their partners online. Utilizing a narrative therapy lens, clinical considerations will be discussed and applied.



Relational Health Literacy: Promoting Relational Intelligence

Jason Austin

Ruoxi Chen

This presentation will introduce the concept of relational health literacy and its theoretical components. Relational health literacy can aid marriage and family therapists by increasing awareness of relational issues and how these issues impact mental, emotional, and physical health. This presentation will further explore how this conceptual framework can be used to promote the field of marriage and family therapy.



The Talk: Diversity and Inclusion in MFT Research and Practice

Renu Aldrich

Isha Williams

Damir Utrzan

Ashley Landers

Eugene Hall

Sarah Crabtree

This interactive and experiential forum will address controversial topics that impact MFT research and practice. In a microcosm of the larger societal system, issues of race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and class will be explored in a safe space to increase cultural competency and understanding of the self-of-the-therapist.



Supervisor Relationship Networks

Jonathan Davis

Jeffrey Powell

Supervisors are central to MFT training and they are gatekeepers to the profession. Yet, the important relationships among practicing supervisors are understudied. We examine data from a census of one state’s approved supervisors using social network analysis. Participants will receive introduction to this method of system evaluation and suggestions for analyzing and improving supervisor relationship networks.



No MFT Left Behind:  Are You Prepared to Work in the Schools?

Rebecca Boyle

Molly McDowell-Burns

How can MFT's contribute to a school pupil services team? Do you understand what terms such as SLD, 504, MFE, ETR, and SLP mean, and can you communicate within a school system? As AAMFT continues to advocate for MFTs to be included in schools, this forum is aimed at educating attendees on navigating school systems and advocating for our profession.



Sexual Resensitization for Christians Struggling with Sexual Shame

Andrew Mercurio

This forum explores the traumatized sexual mind of Christian clients troubled by sexual shame in heterosexual marriage. Sex-negative legacies, transmitted throughout the history of Christianity, will be examined along with a focus on "sexual re-sensitization" as a therapeutic goal for constructing healthier sexual narratives. Interventions will be framed by sex-positive Christian teachings and integrated with Bowenian, Contextual and Narrative therapies.



Experiential Interventions to Enrich Therapy

Jameson Natwick

Bradford Stucki

Amy Morgan

Evan Thomas

This forum will provide participants with a variety of experiential techniques to enrich and expand the clinical toolbox. Existing research will be presented to help participants feel more confident in utilizing creativity and self of the therapist to assess relational dynamics, maintain client engagement, and promote systemic change. Techniques will be presented and practiced in a collaborative and interactive format.



Teaching Trauma and Trauma-informed Teaching

Jessica Cless

Lauren Ruhlmann

Briana Nelson Goff

In this forum, presenters will provide an overview of the need for trauma education as well as potential challenges of teaching trauma. Strategies for teaching trauma, and a pedagogical model for instructors of courses using trauma-related materials are introduced along with sample course materials to be used as examples of a trauma-sensitive and trauma-specific course design.



Defending Denial: Some Walls aren’t Meant to be Torn Down

Nicholas Wilkens

Denial has been conventionally understood as an undesirable client reaction to traumatic experiences and a problem to be scorned. Seeing denial as negative in all clinical situations can be therapeutically counterproductive and even unethical. Often, therapists drive clients too quickly through denial and may be unwittingly doing a great disservice to them. Participants will challenge their own understanding of denial, professionally and personally, and actively develop a set of intentions, based on cutting edge research, to improve their posture as healing professionals.



Considerations for Working with Latino Families in MFT

Ashley Walsdorf

Maria Bermudez

Yolanda Machado

Undocumented and mixed-status families are especially vulnerable to the effects of forced detention, abrupt deportation, and harsh immigration enforcement polices, which has dire consequences for Latino immigrant families in the U.S. This forum will explore the complexities of working with Latino families, including an analysis of policy, clinical needs and how MFT’s can help practice responsively with this population.



Using Medical Family Therapy with Family Caregivers of Older Adults

Carol Podgorski

This interactive forum will provide participants with: an overview of family caregiving in the US and how our health care system and other social factors are changing the roles and responsibilities of caregivers; tools to assess and measure caregiver burden; and medical family therapy interventions to increase caregiver self-efficacy and decrease burden and distress.