Keynote Presentations


I’m OK But YOU Need Professional Help: Creating Recovery – One Laugh At A Time!


In this hilarious presentation award-winning counselor and stand-up comic David Granirer, who has depression, will do a comedic performance about his mental health journey and describe the work he does for Stand Up For Mental Health, his award-winning program teaching comedy to people with mental health issues. You’ll get to see firsthand how he creates recovery – one laugh at a time!


David Granirer is a counselor, stand-up comic, and mental health keynote speaker. David, who has depression, has taught stand-up comedy to recovering addicts and cancer patients, and founded Stand Up For Mental Health, his program teaching comedy to people with mental health issues. He is the recipient of multiple awards recognizing his contributions in de-stigmatizing mental illness and advancing a mental health agenda. Since 2004, David and his comics have performed over 500 shows for mental health organizations, government departments, corporations, universities, correctional facilities, and the military. David was recently awarded a Meritorious Service Medal for his work with Stand Up for Mental Health by the Governor General of Canada. 

Strengthening Resilience in Families Facing Adversity: Practicing the Art of the Possible

Resilience—the human capacity to rebound and grow stronger from adversity—is a vital concept for our work with couples and families struggling to overcome trauma, tragic loss, and multi-stress conditions. Dr. Froma Walsh, the leading international expert on family resilience, will highlight advances and challenges in applying a family resilience framework in clinical and community-based practice, and describe multi-level approaches in gang prevention/youth development and in refugee mental health services. Her principles-based, collaborative approach and research-informed map of key processes guide therapy to facilitate empowering beliefs and practices, mobilizing relational, multigenerational, cultural, and spiritual resources. Pathways in resilience can yield profound transformation, deepen bonds, and inspire new life possibilities. To explore what we, as therapists, bring to the therapeutic engagement, Dr. Walsh will share reflections on her childhood family adversity and how her own family explorations altered her vision from a deficit perspective to understand the hidden power of resilience.


Froma Walsh, PhD, is Co-Founder & Co-Director, Chicago Center for Family Health and Firestone Professor Emerita at the University of Chicago. Dr. Walsh, an internationally renown leader in the field of family therapy, is the foremost expert on family and couple resilience, with application in situations of trauma, complicated loss, and multi-stress conditions. She is also a leading expert on “new normal” family diversity; integrating the spiritual dimension in clinical practice; and the therapeutic potential of human-animal bonds. Her research-informed family resilience framework is widely applied worldwide in research and community-based intervention and prevention. Her collaborative, multi-level systemic practice approach integrates developmental, relational, socio-cultural, and multi-faith spiritual perspectives.

Dr. Walsh, a Clinical Psychologist, is an AAMFT Fellow and past editor, Journal of Marital & Family Therapy; Past President, American Family Therapy Academy; and recipient of many awards for her distinguished contributions to the family therapy field. With 120+ scholarly publications, her books include: Strengthening Family Resilience; Normal Family Processes: Growing Diversity and Complexity; Spiritual Resources in Family Therapy; Living beyond Loss; and Women in Families, with translated editions in many languages. She is an inspiring speaker and valued consultant internationally.

Responding to Uncommon Valor: MFTs Serving Military Families

Public support of US military personnel has always transcended politics.  But the costs to those who serve in uniform are often high, and the effects of war, deployment, and separation from families and communities are extensive. In this keynote, Drs. Frank Thomas and Michael Howard examine the military culture and its distinctive structure and language.  The focus of their exchanges will also address the physical, emotional, moral, and relational injuries military personnel experience and how MFTs can effectively respond.  Finally, conversation will center on how MFTs as systems thinkers are uniquely qualified to positively impact military personnel and their families beyond the therapy room as healing influences in the community in addition to those seeking services.



Frank Thomas, PhD LMFT-S is recognized internationally for his contributions to the fields of couple and family therapy, solution-focused brief therapy, and psychotherapy supervision.  Professor of Counseling and Counselor Education at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, he also maintains a systems consultation practice. Thomas was the Founding Archivist for the SFBTA, preserving the Brief Family Therapy Center of Milwaukee (the birthplace of Solution-Focused Brief Therapy). An AAMFT Clinical Fellow and Approved Supervisor, Thomas is a licensed marriage and family therapist and approved LMFT supervisor (TX) and serves on editorial boards for five psychotherapy journals.  He has presented over 230 workshops in 15 different countries, and his work has been translated into nine languages. 

Thomas’s book Solution-Focused Supervision: A Resource-Oriented Approach to Developing Clinical Expertise has been described by Michael Durrant, Director of the Brief Therapy Institute of Sydney and Faculty of Education and Social Work at the University of Sydney, as “THE most significant solution-focused book of the past 10 years.” Thomas has authored or edited five other books and written nearly 100 professional articles and book chapters. His latest book project is “AAMFT at 75 Years,” a history of our professional organization.


Dr. Michael Howard, EdD, is a 28-year veteran of the United States Navy and the founder and CEO of Healing Solutions Counseling Center, a premier multi-site outpatient center that specializes in couple relationships, infidelity, trauma, and sexual addiction. He is also the founder and CEO of Decisive Impact Coaching which specializes in entrepreneurial coaching and helping therapists build the thriving practice of their dreams. He coaches therapists and small-business owners throughout the United States. Dr. Howard is the author of numerous scholarly articles and four books: The Entrepreneurial Therapist: Proven Strategies for Developing a Thriving Counseling Practice; The Honeymoon’s Over – Now What?; Intimate Betrayal: Hope and Healing for Couples Recovering from Infidelity and Sexual Addiction; and Pathways to Intimacy: Conversations for Closeness – Creating the Marriage you have always Dreamed of. Dr. Howard is licensed in the state of North Carolina as a Marriage and Family Therapist, Professional Counselor and Supervisor, and Clinical Addictions Specialist. He is also a Certified Sex Addiction Therapist and Supervisor, Board Certified Coach, Master Addiction Counselor, Certified Clinical Mental Health Counselor, and Equine Mental Health Professional. Dr. Howard is a Clinical Fellow and Approved Supervisor with AAMFT.

Love, Hope, and Forgiveness

Kim’s story is both a universal and a deeply personal one. It parallels the fate of Vietnam itself. Both Kim’s suffering, and her courageous recovery mirrors that of a whole people. It is also the story of how one little girl’s tragedy would be used by all sides. Peace activists, journalists from all over the world and Vietnamese government officials saw Kim as a symbol, not a person. She tells her story so that we may gain better understand the power of hope and optimism. This moving presentation will leave audiences inspired by the strength of the human spirit. After experiencing unimaginable horrors, Kim faced a myriad of emotions: bitterness, anger, sorrow and love. She was a victim on two levels, the physical and a much more painful level: the emotional. In this presentation Kim shares the step-by-step process on how she learned to forgive and how her inner strength helped transform her destiny from darkness to light. This presentation leaves us with a fuller understanding of the transformative powers of forgiveness.


Kim Phuc Phan Thi was born and raised in a village near Saigon. In 1972, Americans and the South Vietnamese Airforce dropped napalm bombs on her village. Nine-year-old Phuc fled from a Buddhist pagoda, where she and her family were hiding. Two of her infant cousins did not survive the attack, and Phuc was badly burned. Phuc was photographed running down the road, screaming from the burns to her skin. Ut’s photograph of Phuc remains one of the most unforgettable images of the Vietnam War.

Phuc was not expected to live. After two years, however, with the help of doctors who were committed to her care, she was able to return to her village and her family began to rebuild their lives. During the following years, the government subjected her to endless interviews and officials summoned her to Ho Chi Minh City to be used in propaganda films. Phuc had been forced to quit school and move back to her province, where she was supervised daily as a “national symbol of war.”

In 1986, Phuc was sent to study in Cuba and eventually settled in Canada. When Vietnam veterans invited her to participate at a service in Washington, as part of a Veteran’s Day observance, Phuc shared her experience to help others heal from the pain of war. While there, she spoke face to face with a veteran involved in dropping the bombs on that day in 1972, and forgave him.

Phuc’s incredible story was turned into a book called The Girl in the Picture and a documentary called Kim’s Story: The Road from Vietnam.

In light of Phuc’s struggle, she established a foundation to further heal the wounds of war. The Kim Foundation International is a nonprofit organization committed to funding programs to heal children in war torn areas of the world. It is named for Phuc, who wants to give back what so many gave to her to contribute to her healing. In 1997 UNESCO named her a Goodwill Ambassador.