Each Intensive is a two-day series:

June 27: - 10:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

June 28: - 9:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.

Leaning Into Leadership - What Does It Mean to Be A Leader and Maintain Your Authentic Sense of Self?

Isha Williams, PhD, LMFT

Leader. Leadership. What thoughts come to the forefront of your mind when you read or hear these words? Who do you envision? What attributes come to mind? According to the Center for Creative Leadership, there are twelve essential leadership qualities: self-awareness, respect, compassion, vision, communication, learning agility, collaboration, influence, integrity, courage, gratitude and resilience. Reread those qualities. Most would agree that these are necessary qualities. My leadership journey did not begin clearly defined nor did I have the typical avenues to develop what I now recognize as natural leadership skills. Allow me to use a well-worn example to illustrate how I think about my journey – packing a trunk. As I reflect on the journey, opportunities, challenges and setbacks are reflective of what I thought I needed to pack as well as things I picked up along the way. I believe knowledge and experience play a vital role in how we strengthen our leadership abilities and offer my journey both as knowledge and experience. We will examine multiple nodal points that have contributed to how I arrived at this point in my leadership journey and offer a perspective of what it looks like to grow into leadership. I invite you to bring along your leadership trunk and join me for this leg of the journey.

Dr. Isha Williams is a licensed marriage and family therapist who has dedicated her professional career to teaching and training the next generation of marriage and family therapist to become successful clinicians. She uses her knowledge of systems and relationship dynamics to help clients develop more genuine connections with others to facilitate trusting, honest and effective communication. She uses a narrative approach to help couples, families and individuals understand how their lived experiences, both past and current have shaped how they engage with loved ones. She walks alongside her clients as they manage difficult experiences, aiding their transition into a better understanding of themselves and a greater appreciation of what makes them unique. 

Dr. Williams is an experienced clinician, supervisor, and teacher. Her research interests are multicultural and international supervision, training, and teaching. Dr. Williams is an American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) Approved Supervisor and is a licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT) in North Carolina. She serves as a director on the AAMFT Foundation for the Advancement of Human Systems (FAHS), which exists to fund research focusing on healthy and strong human systems – individuals, couples, families and communities. Dr. Williams has over 12 years teaching experience in Marriage and Family Therapy master’s and PhD programs.

Dr. Williams graduated with her BA in Biology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She obtained her NC Secondary Science Education license and taught in the NC public school system for two and a half years before deciding to return to school where she went on to earn her MS in Cell Biology at East Carolina University. After working in both the private and public sector, Dr. Williams shifted course and pursued her MS in Marriage and Family Therapy, which she earned from East Carolina University in 2007 and continued her education in the field by earning her PhD in Human Development with a concentration in Marriage and Family Therapy in 2018 from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech).  

Healing Wounds that Never Close: Exploring the Impact of Racial Injustice on Client and Clinician Experiences of Empathic Distress and Compassion Fatigue

Esther Boykin, LMFT

Compassion fatigue is an issue that every therapist must be aware of throughout their career. By the very nature of our jobs, we spend a considerable amount of time and energy holding space for the deep emotional suffering, complex traumas, and pain of others. But how does this common part of our professional experience show up in clients as well? When we begin to shift

our perspective from compassion fatigue to empathic distress we can see how clients experiencing the ongoing generational impact of racism may be battling the very same dynamics we experience as clinicians. Navigating a painful experience that is never-ending, like systemic oppression, results in thought patterns and behaviors that can impede the therapeutic process if we are not careful.

In this intensive, we will explore the clinical implications of how our personal experiences with racial injustice and systemic oppression as therapists intersect with our clients' lived experiences of the same. By exploring how racial trauma impacts both clinicians and clients we can begin to embrace a more expansive view of how to work with clients who may seem apathetic, resistant, or disconnected. As we work to support Black and other clients of color it's imperative now more than ever that we ask ourselves how therapists can get and give racially relevant support and cultivate the self-compassion practices needed for both clients and our well-being.

Esther Boykin is a licensed marriage and family therapist, speaker, author, CEO of Group Therapy Associates, and founder of the Compassion Collective. As a TEDx speaker, trusted mental health advocate, and celebrity therapist, Esther works tirelessly to be a catalyst for transformative growth - for individuals, organizations, and her community.

A luminary in her field, Esther's influence extends far beyond her therapy chair. She is a compassionate leader modeling the skills she teaches to other executives and organizations within her own mental health company. Esther has worked with leading corporations such as Verizon, Vonage, and Deluxe Media as well as non-profit organizations like Tigerliy Foundation to help them create more compassionate and emotionally healthy organizational cultures.

Her core belief is that sustainable success, in life and career, is rooted in self-compassion and a genuine understanding of the human experience. Esther combines more than two decades of expertise in systemic and relationally based therapy with a deep dedication to inclusivity, innovation, and culturally relevant mental health.

Esther currently serves on the Board of Directors for NAMI DC. Her 2023 keynote address at AAMFT’s Systemic Family Therapy Conference and 2021 commencement address at Lewis and Clark College, coupled with an honorary doctoral degree in Human Letters, highlight her commitment not only to serving individuals and organizations but also to being a key influencer in the future of modern mental health care.

Esther's passion resonates as a speaker, consultant, meditation teacher, therapist, and retreat facilitator, amplifying the message that self-compassion is not just a luxury but a necessity. Her focus on self-compassion as a remedy for burnout, particularly among high-achieving Black professionals, addresses a critical need in today's demanding world.

Outside of her professional life, Esther can be found brewing the perfect French press coffee, searching for her latest favorite wine, or cooking for her family and friends. She is a mom to 2 adult children and 2 rescue dogs. She lives and works in the Washington, DC area. Learn more about her work at and get in touch with her private practice at She can also be found on Instagram and Linkedin @estherbmft.

    Unintentional Cultural Offenses

    Lambers Fisher, LMFT, MDiv

    Unintentional cultural offenses and misunderstandings often contribute to disconnected personal and professional relationships. Unfortunately, helping professionals often feel paralyzed by the fear that we don’t know enough about other cultures to try to effectively support those different than themselves. This training will help reduce those fears by providing an attainable goal for increasing cultural competence, as well as reducing the negative impact of unavoidable cultural misunderstandings on professional rapport and effectiveness. This positive and encouraging, relationship-focused training will provide practical language and strategies that can help reduce tensions and perceived barriers, and help strengthen cross-cultural relationships.

    Lambers Fisher, LMFT, MDiv, is a licensed marriage and family therapist, award-winning author, and national speaker on the topic of multicultural awareness and diversity. For over 20 years, Lambers has counseled individuals, couples, and families from a variety of cultural backgrounds, in private practice, non-profit, and ministry environments. Lambers’ Diversity Made Simple training has helped thousands of professionals around the country increase their cultural competence and strengthen cross-cultural relationships. Lambers helps professionals in various fields feel more comfortable, competent, and confident in their ability to meet the needs of whomever they have the opportunity to serve. For more information visit

    No Filters: The Impact of Social Media on Relationships and Body Image

    Charlece "Charlie" Bishop, MS, LMFT

    Over the last decade, the rise of social media has become more influential in multiple aspects of life, both positively and negatively. Social media has grown to not only be a source of entertainment, news updates, and networking but it also impacts interpersonal relationships and can raise concern or be an inspiration for body image. It is essential to highlight the realities that social media can have on interpersonal relationships and body image.

    Studies have shown a pattern of disengagement in relationships due to the increased time spent engaging in social media and decreased time spent in the relationship. Despite that, modern-day relationships tend to develop through social networking sites such as Facebook, Instagram, or dating websites while commonly maintaining online relationship visibility through those platforms. The platforms also highlight society’s standards of beauty that could lead people to express body positivity, compare themselves, and impact their satisfaction with body image.

    Further, extensive studies focus on body image and its consequences on mental health. Unfortunately, a scarcity of research examined body image within the context of social media. For example, how do people compare themselves to viral fashion trends and influencers? How can people utilize their platforms to promote health and fitness for mental well-being?

    Moreover, what short-term and long-term effects does social media have on vulnerable users of the platforms?

    In closing, this presentation will highlight the realities of social media presence in interpersonal relationships and body image. It will highlight the development and maintenance of modern-day intimate relationships, the effects of social media on interpersonal relationships, and the harsh realities of social media’s impact on romantic relationships. It will bring awareness to the positive and negative influences on body image as well as identify methods to express body positivity. Lastly, this presentation aims to bridge the gap in the literature; however, further research is needed on this topic.

    Charlece “Charlie” Bishop, MS, LMFT, obtained her MS from the University of Alabama and holds the AAMFT Clinical Fellow designation, along with memberships in both the Alabama Marriage and Family Therapy and Couples and Intimate Relationships Networks. Charlie is a certified Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Body-Focused-Repetive-Behaviors, and Tics Disorder specialist. She is the owner of the private practice CR Counseling in Birmingham, AL, and is the founder and host of the raw and uncut podcast Black Girl Body which centered around Black Women’s issues and the stigmas they experience daily. She is an accomplished author and international and national speaker on topics related to Black culture, social equality, eating disorders, and body image issues. Further, her research interests include eating disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorders, BFRBs, tics disorder, body dysmorphia, anxiety disorders, systemic racial trauma, and Black mental health.