1:30 – 2:30 p.m. EDT

Aligning Advocacy to be within the MFT Scope of Practice

Amy Morgan, PhD

This session will provide participants with opportunities to consider pathways to leadership in the domain of advocacy. There are many common misconceptions of the prototype of the “effective advocate” when, in reality, some of the most impactful advocates don’t even see themselves in that role. This session will provide a forum to explore the wide spectrum of tasks under the umbrella of “advocacy,” address the array of skills central and peripheral to advocacy functions, and reflect on the “self of the advocate” in discerning one's goodness of fit with this role.

2:45 – 3:45 p.m. EDT

The Future of Family Therapy: Beyond our Footloose Past and Manualized Present

Diane Gehart

We are at a crossroads in our profession. The knowledge and evidence base of family therapy has grown exponentially over the past two decades, significantly redefining the field. This dramatic increase in therapeutic models and clinical research makes it impossible for both new and established therapists to meaningfully stay current. We have also created a system for training, licensure, and continuing education that is fragmented and increasingly disconnected from the requirements of contemporary work environments. In this workshop, we will take a brief tour of our past and present realities and then look forward to viable options for our future, which will have to include ways to “synthesize” the knowledge and research in the field so that every clinician is able to readily access and utilize cutting edge practices.

Amplifying Conversations about Disability Identities in the Field of MFT: Strategies of Inclusion

Manasi Shankar, PhD

Disability research has advanced significantly over the past few decades, navigating dynamic alterations in conceptualizations, language utilization and inherent operationalizations of disability. Yet, disability scholars and researchers are sometimes challenged to find their dominance in the field of marriage and family therapy despite the inherently systemic nature of disability, from a Social Model perspective. This gap contributes heavily to clinical services to our clients. My presentation calls attention to the dire need to include additional disability discourse and training in the field of MFT. I shed light on the role of family scholars in the field of disability research historically and at present, with a focus on the contributions of past MFTs and the potential for our field to holistically support our disabled clients, without missing key aspects of their identity. It pulls from current empirical research that addresses the needs of the disabled community at the individual, policy, and familial level.

Practice Confidentially and Confidently

Carl Greenburg, MS

The AAMFT Code of Ethics is clear that MFTs must not share any information with others without authorization in the form of a written release signed by the client unless a legal exception applies. However, maintaining confidentiality could prove to be difficult when specific problems conflict with the therapist's legal and ethical duty to confidentiality and the therapeutic-client relationship. For example, the Code of Ethics requires MFTs to comply with the law including court orders but this may be difficult when distinguishing multiple parties in group therapy or when the law compels MFTs to break confidentiality despite concerns over the welfare of the client. MFTs are also often called to act as agents of social control when there are threats of harm to another or child abuse has occurred. This session will focus on the ethical limitations and dilemmas of confidentiality with regards to the AAMFT Code of Ethics.

Neurobiology and Treatment of Relationships

Harvey Joanning, PhD

This session on The Neurobiology and Treatment of Relationships wilI focus on how neurobiology and endocrinology drive intimate human behavior along with strategies for assisting individuals, couples and families to cope with relationships issues. Seven primal emotional brain systems and accompanying feelings and hormones will be outlined including detailed images. A brief life review of the neurobiology of parenting, sex therapy, and divorce adjustment therapy will be included.

Core Therapist Skills Supporting the Implementation of Evidence-Based Practices with Severe Emotionally Disturbed Children: A Community Engaged, Mixed-Method Delphi Study

Deb Miller, LMSW
Adrian Blow, PhD
Kendal Holtrop

Family-focused evidence-based practices (EBPs) are our best chance of providing research-informed treatment to children with severe emotional disturbance symptoms (SED) and their families, yet their implementation in community mental health settings is critically low. While we know that therapist skills play a part in effective EBP implementation, little is known about the foundational skillset most likely to improve the adoption of family focused EBPs that treat SED symptoms in youth and families. This presentation explores the results of a community-engaged, mixed-method Delphi study aimed at answering: What are the therapist skills most likely to support successful adoption of family-focused EBPs that target SED symptoms in youth? Presentation content explores a mix of research literature, community partner feedback, and consensus items from over 50 EBP experts that identify which therapist skills and training methods could best improve the adoption of, and ultimately access to, EBPs in community mental health agencies.

Conducting Affirmative Attachment-Based Family Therapy with LGBTQ+ Youth with Suicidal Thoughts and Behavior

Jody M. Russon, PhD

Working with LGBTQ+ youth with suicidal thoughts and behavior (STB) has been particularly challenging in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Although many LGBTQ+ youth live in affirming and supportive family environments, there are a large percentage who experiencing intolerance, rejection and hostility in their family relationships. Affirmative attachment-based family therapy (Diamond, G.M., et al., 2012; Diamond, G.S. et al., 2014; Russon et al., 2021) aims to repair past and present ruptures that LGBTQ+ youth witness on the basis of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity from their caregivers. The approach also supports families of LGBTQ+ youth with STB in becoming advocates for their child. In this presentation, we illustrate how the ABFT adaptations (including telehealth modifications) have been applied with LGBTQ+ youth and their families, with special consideration to issues of outness, macro/microaggressions, and working with caregivers who are rejecting, intolerant and/or ambivalent.

Attachment-Based Family Therapy

Guy S. Diamond, PhD

ABFT is a manualized, empirically supported family therapy designed to target family and individual processes associated with adolescent depression and suicide. Tested with diverse families, including low-income and minority families, ABFT is a trust- based, emotion-focused, process-oriented brief therapy. The model is organized by five treatment tasks that provide directionality. Participants will learn how this model helps families repair interpersonal ruptures that have damaged trust and rebuild emotionally protective, secure parent–child relationships.

Attached: A Live Podcast Recording

Sarah B. Woods, PhD
Patricia N.E. Roberson, PhD
Jacob B. Priest, PhD

Little of the research completed in academia ends up in the hands of the general public - the isolation of the ivory tower we create by federally-funded research is perpetuated by a lack of meaningful dissemination for those who may benefit most. Discussing what we know from research findings, and connecting clinical practice issues to relatable topics in the media, may be no more important than in the area of family relationships, which impact all people. Further, the explosion of popular news, blog posts, and self-help books related to creating lasting, happy, meaningful relationships is an indication of how much this area is of interest to a general audience. Enter the Attached Podcast - a new podcast that discusses the relationships we're attached to, and the good, the bad, and the ugly relationship advice that maybe we shouldn't be so attached to. This session is a recording of this podcast, with an interactive Q&A experience for the audience, who can contribute and interact with the podcast hosts during the recording. Audience members can also submit relationship advice they’ve recently heard, or seen on social media, that they’d like the podcasters to discuss by visiting ahead of time.

4:00 – 5:00 p.m. EDT

Coalition Building: Creating Influential Alliances to Do Good Things

Kelly M. Roberts, PhD

While individual voices can certainly be heard in democracies, albeit in greater or lesser degrees, coalitions can bring the influence and inertia to affect change in generally greater degrees and with faster timelines. By virtue of our discipline, systemic family therapists are highly suited to build and coordinate advocacy coalitions. Case examples and a coalition model will be offered to this audience. Best suited for advocates, leadership groups, and those who have been working on advocacy challenges for a number of years but seem to be lacking traction. (Assumption: the audience will know basic legislative or advocacy terms and processes.)

Clinical Best Practices for Addressing Racial Trauma

Jamila E. Holcomb, PhD

Given the current racial climate involving police brutality and murder, civilians policing Black bodies, and hateful, divisive rhetoric saturating the media, Black families are at an increased risk for experiencing racism. As a result of both the current climate and racism that the Black community has endured for centuries, Black families are also at an increased risk for experiencing racial trauma and the negative psychological, physiological, and relational health concerns that are associated. Unfortunately, due to the historical minimization and invalidation of the impacts of racism, there are few clinical resources that exist to positively address the symptoms related to experiencing or witnessing racism. Given the significant impact that racism has on the Black community, it is imperative that mental health professionals are adequately trained to address racial trauma. This presentation will explore common barriers to addressing racial trauma in the therapeutic setting, and then provide clinical best practices for doing so. Through this workshop, clinicians will explore self of the therapist factors that might impede their ability to provide ethical and equitable services to the Black community.

Helping Couples Overcome Infidelity

Angela Skurtu, LMFT

Helping Couples Overcome Infidelity: In this training, I cover milestones that help couples improve their relationship health after someone commits an affair. These milestones come from my book, Helping Couples Overcome Infidelity. These cases are reportedly the hardest cases to treat for therapists. I describe examples of my biggest mistakes in working with these populations in order to help therapists have an honest conversation about ways to improve treatment outcomes.

Safety Planning as Treatment Planning

Nathan D. Croy, LCMFT

It is time to think about safety in a new way. A holistic idea of safety that includes spiritual, sexual, economic, social, relational, physical, and psychological aspects of people allows for the creation of more effective and personalized care. The idea of safety planning is not disparate from treatment planning and, as research has shown, is only effective when integrated with treatment. This presentation will teach practitioners how to create meaningful treatment/safety plans that will increase insight and autonomy in individuals and families by looking at the history of safety planning, obstacles to successful implementations, current research, and instruction on how to create their own safety plan.

Expanding our International Reach: Trends of Systemic Family Therapy in Africa

Ronald Asiimwe, LLMFT
Adrian Blow, PhD
Lekie Dwanyen, PhD

The African continent has many mental and family health needs that family therapists are well-suited to treat. However, many barriers to the widespread uptake of family therapy in Africa remain. In this presentation, we will discuss the state of family therapy in Africa, including past, current, and future trends as well as, challenges related to the training and implementation of systemic family therapy in Africa. Drawing examples from four selected African countries-Kenya, South Africa, Uganda, and Nigeria-we will devote sections of this presentation to discussing the fit for family therapy in the African context, primarily focusing on the influence of Western models of family therapy. Next, we will discuss the cultural contexts and diversity within the African continent, since the implementation of systemic family therapy varies depending on the cultural context. We will provide recommendations to overcome obstacles to advancing SFT training and implementation in Africa

Intersectionality of the Body and Mind: Endocrine and Family

Linda L. Rio, MA

The Intersectionality of the Mind and Body through Understanding the Role of the Endocrine System: The mind and body have long been seen as separate but recent studies show the need to re-assess this. One area where convergence appears is for those who have a neuroendocrine or pituitary disorder. Although still considered relatively "rare" the levels of impact on mental and family health ranges from moderate to severe both physically and in terms of personal and family quality of life.

Family Therapy with LGBTQIA+ Youth in Foster Care

Ashley L. Landers, PhD
Jessica E. Simpson, MS
Avery R. Campbell, MS

LGBTQIA+ youth are overrepresented in the child welfare system (Child Welfare Information Gateway, 2013). This workshop introduces the complex experiences of LGBTQIA+ youth traversing the foster care system. Like all developing youth, persons who identify as LGBTQIA+ need the support of a nurturing family as they transition through childhood and adolescence into adulthood. Common misconceptions and stigma create barriers for LGBTQIA+ youth in foster care. It is critical that MFTs understand the unique experiences and risks for LGBTQIA+ youth. Implications for MFTs working with LGBTQIA+ youth and their families will be examined. This interactive workshop will provide MFTs with a deeper understanding of LGBTQIA+ youth in foster care. The context and culture of the LGBTQIA+ community will be explored. The presenters will draw upon their experiences of working with LGBTQIA+ youth, as well as, share accounts of LGBTQIA+ youth in foster care. Implications for MFTs working with LGBTQIA+ youth and their families will be examined. Particular attention will be placed on the various roles of MFTs in assisting LGBTQIA+ youth and their families in foster care (Child Welfare Information Gateway, 2013; Mallon, Aledort, & Ferrera, 2002; Mallon & Wornoff, 2006). Examining research literature and the unique experiences of LGBTQ youth and their families will offer guidance to MFTs to attend to the complex context surrounding LGBTQIA+ youth in foster care. Attendees will learn culturally sensitive therapeutic approaches and practices, which may be implemented to honor and respect LGBTQIA+ youth. Important issues related to valuing LGBTQIA+ youth strengths, definitions of ‘family’, the roles and involvement of extended or non-biological kin will be considered. Findings from current research will be highlighted.

A Therapist's Guide to Maintaining a Practice Online

Kat Derrig-Palumbo, PhD

Online therapy is an effective medium for using systemic based family therapy approaches and interventions with a broad spectrum of clients. Through lecture, demonstrations, interactive activities and case presentations, attendees will learn cutting edge marketing tools and effective systems based Online Family Therapy to legally and ethically serve the growing population of clients using the Internet. Lecture and discussion will highlight some of the most effective systemic clinical approaches, theories and interventions when using Online Therapy. Attendees will learn interventions suggested from theorists and practicing clinicians successfully adapting systemic interventions to Online Therapy, including integrated family therapy. Case presentations will highlight strategies for prevention and intervention of a variety of issues, especially that work well with transnational families, adolescent drug abuse, and school-based family therapy. The final part of this session will incorporate effective marketing and business tools for their practice as well as allow attendees to ask questions and discuss specific applications and future implications for preparing family therapists to manage their practices using the Internet. Final discussion includes current legal and ethical challenges represented by state boards and implications for preparing family therapists for future technology advances.