Friday, March 15, 2024

1:45 p.m. - 2:45 p.m.

Demystifying the Academic Job Market

Eman Tadros, PhD

Katherine A. Durante, PhD

Having an academic position coincides with being a leader. Utilizing your position as a leader to better serve your community as a marriage and family therapist can be done through teaching, research, clinical work, supervision, and service. Navigating the academic job market can be confusing and stressful, this session demystifies the process. The purpose of this session is to provide information, tips, and tools to set you up for a leadership role in our field. This includes how to apply for academic positions, what you need for a competitive application, preparing for the job talk, and how to negotiate your offer.


Diversifying Your Impact as a Therapist and Creating Additional Streams of Revenue

Claire Blakey, MA, LMFT, PMH-C

Have you dreamed of creating impact outside of the therapy room? Do you wish you could take a class that would outline what's possible, how to use your clinical background to cultivate change through other offerings? Look no further! The Flourishing Therapreneur© is an educational business led by Claire Blakey -- with a podcast, courses and consultation empowering therapists pursuing private practice and entrepreneurial endeavors. Claire Blakey, LMFT is passionate about empowering therapists in business and entrepreneurship. Whether teaching clinicians how to build successful and sustainable private practices, scale to group practice, sign book deals, launch podcasts or create courses. Claire believes that every therapist deserves the tools and support to flourish as therapists and entrepreneurs – as therapreneurs.

Leadership Skills for MFTs to Engage Government Systems to Impact Policy

Adriatik Likcani, PhD, LMFT
Kim Bailey, MS, LMFT, LCMFT

We have worked with various government systems at the state and federal level. Kim Bailey and I, Adriatik Likcani, will share our experiences on navigating the political arena through ethical and servant leadership and effectively influence such systems in a positive way as MFTs. We have served as members and Chairpersons for various state boards and committees such as the State Licensing Committee, policy-development boards and workgroups, and the State Board of Education. Both of us were appointed by the Missouri Governor and consecutively reappointed and reconfirmed by the MO Senate in recent years. We have a combined 25+ years experience in collaborating across institutions promoting our profession and impacting positive change in policy making circles. Participants may benefit from learning about such systems, ways how to engage in those systems, and leadership skills as MFT to operate within such systems.

Frame the Vow

Angela Ge, MFA

A grassroots community initiative called Frame the Vow, which has since enlisted 600 volunteers to assist 400 Chinese senior citizen couples in capturing staged wedding photos and documenting their enduring love stories that have withstood challenging times in China's modern history. Expanding the project to eight cities in China and New York, this endeavor has transformed into a social movement that continues to spread and flourish, ultimately being turned into a 90-minute documentary. In this project, we used wedding photos as a pretext, and involved a volunteer with a background in psychology in each group. Through the narratives of these couples’ love stories, the program facilitated intergenerational conversations and explored family dynamics and the imprints of time, thus generating insight on their mental health needs, and how these needs were addressed in the context of individuals, families, close relationships, and communities.

3:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Be the Leader You Want to See

M. Evan Thomas, PhD

Amanda Veldorale-Griffin, PhD

This session will focus on how participants can get involved in leadership at the state and national levels within AAMFT. The presenters will share their experience as leaders in QTAN and discuss how they have worked to lead the network during a time when anti-trans and queer laws are being passed in the United States. Leadership will be broken down into short-term and long-term goals, and collaboration with AAMFT central will be discussed.


“Little Ol’ Me?” Yes! And “Little Ol’ YOU!” Overcoming Leadership Narratives to Excel and Enjoy the Rewards of Systemic Volunteer Service

Shelley Hanson, MA

Erin C. Schaefer, MA

Sarah E. Lyon, PhD

Many of us carry leadership narratives that have been passed to us and framed our way of viewing not only leadership itself, but ourselves. These narratives can be empowering while also prove to be limiting. Let’s explore together the narratives that can rewrite your leadership experience to allow you the path forward in service.

Integral and Transpersonal Family Therapy: A Radical Approach to Reindigenizing Leadership

Vishwani (Deepa) Ram-Souza, PhD

John Souza, Jr., LMFT, DMFT

In this session, attendees will be introduced to Integral and Transpersonal Family Therapy (ITFT) and its potential to rejuvenate leadership within the Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) domain. The focus is on presenting a holistic approach to MFT leadership, bridging individualistic and collectivistic perspectives. We will commence by outlining ITFT's fundamental principles, illustrating how they marry pre-modern ancestral wisdom with modern systemic theories to offer a revitalized perspective on MFT leadership. The necessity of integrating ITFT principles in current MFT leadership practices will be stressed, advocating for a more inclusive, interdependent, and interconnected approach to wholeness. Attendees will move beyond exploring the "What" and "Why" of ITFT leadership, diving into the "How" through a live demonstration. The goal is to equip MFT leaders with actionable strategies that foster a counterculture of innovation and continuous growth. This 60-minute session is crafted to impart a clear understanding of ITFT, its significance to MFT leadership, and practical steps for its application. Attendees will leave better prepared to spearhead efforts in creating supportive, equitable, and ecologically mindful therapeutic environments.

Shame, Sex, and Self

Candida Crasto

A retrofitted intuitive inquiry into sexual shame derived from the intersectionality of education and culture as it impacts formation of authentic identity. This project started as a method of building a safe global community for sharing stories and precipitating factors of shame and stigma surrounding sexually transmitted infections. The project is carried out as a podcast series examining the barriers to authentic self-acceptance and self-expression. During the course of the first season, several factors of shame emerged as sociocultural, religious, and family of origin in developing the lens of shame as it contributes to authentic sexual development.

Saturday, March 16, 2024

10:15 a.m. - 11:15 a.m.

Expanding the Scope and Training of MFT Supervision to Medical and Healthcare Settings

Max Zubatsky, PhD

Tai Mendenhall, PhD

Laura Sudano, PhD

Marriage and Family Therapists (MFTs) are assuming more positions and roles in medical settings, expanding their work with patients and families across a myriad of biopsychosocial-spiritual presentations. While MFT supervisor training has largely focused on competencies for therapists working in traditional psychotherapy settings, little has been developed to address skills and knowledge for trainees working in health care and medicine. This presentation will give an overview of what Medical Family Therapy (MedFT) supervision looks like for master’s students, doctoral students, and early professional Marriage and Family Therapy trainees working in medical settings. Three experienced professionals, who are also MedFT supervisors, will provide their perspectives and experiences in supervising these levels of professionals in different healthcare training centers and settings. The final 15 minutes of the talk will be an interactive Q&A with the audience, wherein the speakers will offer their thoughts about how the MFT profession must expand training and supervision workshops to develop the next generation(s) of diverse and healthcare-oriented supervisors. This presentation will also highlight the work being done by the Family Therapists in Healthcare TIN through AAMFT, where training and professional development are two core missions of this interest network.


MFTs Faith-Based Action Plan

Debbie Manigat, DMFT, LMFT

Spirituality is the number one factor in supporting the prevention of suicide or aiding recovery from substance abuse (2022, English). In times of emotional crisis or distress, many look to their church or faith based organization for guidance. Yet, when churchgoers are unable to find mental health care in their own churches or communities of faith, they feel isolated, lonely, misunderstood, shame, and judged (Smietana, 2014). The asylum churchgoers seek for spiritual respite suffers from stigma, poor or no training, and lack of awareness about mental illness (Smietana, 2014). This training highlights a systemic mental health consultation framework to equip therapists and support churches with resources on family therapy or mental health care in a spiritual care setting. The presenter will review experiences at a faith-based internship, how to collaborate with churches of various sizes for trainings/ workshops/ conferences, and grant considerations for faith-based partnerships.


Family Policy Education for MFTs

Andrew Benesh, PhD

Interest in legislative advocacy among MFTs has grown in recent years, with major legislative victories around the rules that govern our profession on both Federal and State levels. On an individual and organizational level, therapists are increasingly recognizing issues of systemic injustice, and calling for change. Despite this growth, many MFTs have limited familiarity with the public policies and government programs (SNAP, TANF, WIC, etc.) that affect both theirs and their client's daily lives. When legislation arises that will have an affect on families but doesn't directly affect licensing, MFTs are often unsure how to be effective advocates or work with policymakers. In this session, we will explore opportunities for incorporating education on public policy into MFT graduate education and continuing education, and ways that MFTs can better educate themselves in this area.

TIPS for Parents: A Trauma-Informed Parenting Group

Dylann Lowery, MS

Carson Outler, MA

We are a group of trained Marriage and Family Therapy clinicians offering a FREE trauma-informed parenting group for parents with children between 5-10 years old. Our goal is to help parents better understand themselves and connect more with their child(ren). Here is more information about our program:

It is an 8-week program highlighting a new topic each week, including topics such as child communication and emotion regulation.

11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

Using the POTT Model as a Springboard for Supportive Leadership

Sar Surmick, LMFT

Billie Tyler, LMFT

Who we are shows up in all aspects of the therapeutic process: relationship, assessment, and intervention. It also shows up in all aspects of being a leader: awareness, communication, creativity, confidence, etc. How then should we explore ourselves when inhabiting a leadership position? The Person of the Therapist Model (Dr. Harry Aponte) prepares us to make active and purposeful use of our authentic self, personally and professionally. It gives us a way to explore our passions, strengths, and vulnerabilities. It also gives space to explore our biases, assumptions, and discomforts. Knowing ourselves, we can better support others as therapists and as leaders; to affirm, accept, and focus. Our self-knowledge strengthens our growth areas, fosters connection, and supports those we work with. In knowing ourself, we can truly begin to know others. This workshop will use lecture, discussion, and exercises to explore participants’ relationship to themselves and their leadership.

Servant Leadership: A Pathway Toward Leading, Healing and Growing

Chris Habben, PhD

There are multiple models of leadership and each effectively serve different contexts and circumstances. Reflecting on a series of leadership experiences, this presentation will consider an approach to leadership utilizing a servant model. This presentation will consider different models or styles of leadership and will reflect specifically on service minded approach to leadership. The intent will be to review strengths as well as challenges of a servant leadership.


Mentoring to Launch: Increasing Mentee Readiness to Lead

Carol Podgorski, PhD

There is no question that the MFT profession attracts a wide variety of people who are motivated to make a positive difference in the world, in the lives of those they serve, in their workplaces, and in the communities in which they live. It is also true many MFTs who have devoted their careers to being agents of change now stand ready to share their knowledge and experiences to foster the development of new leaders in our field. And, AAMFT continues to dedicate resources toward its commitment to leadership development by providing opportunities to bring together those looking to lead and those looking to mentor. This workshop will address the process and content elements of mentorship that are central to leadership development and readiness. This session will draw on tenets and practices from systems consultation, conscious leadership, and the business sector to provide participants, both mentees and mentors, with awareness of the attributes, skills, and competencies that best predict readiness to lead.

Confident Kids, Confident Parents

Mady Cheng, MA, LMFT

The program is designed for high-stress families with elementary school aged children. Participants include children and their parents. The program covers life skills such as coping with changes (e.g. divorce), handling feelings, and making choices. Cognitive behavioral therapy, experiential therapy, and play therapy concepts are incorporated into the program. The same contents are presented to both children and parents, so the skills learned can be practiced at home. The contents are presented through arts, crafts, and drama to the children while through discussion to the parents.

2:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.

Expanding the Frame: Leading the Charge on Relational, Multigenerational and Systemic Awareness Among Mental Health Professionals

Sharon Marianetti-Leeper, PhD

Michelle Bell, PsyD

LMFTs in NY state carry the least amount of cache and professional power among mental health providers. Psychologists and social workers (along with licensed mental health counselors) hold licenses that are considered more restigious and more marketable. Why is this and how can we change this in our state and in yours? How can we expand the frame of mental health to better include systemic, relational and multigenerational dynamics in case conceptualization among allied mental health professionals?

Preparing a Multicultural Team of Systemic Therapists to Engage in Therapy work with Professionals in a Culturally Diverse Setting in Africa

Ronald Asiimwe, PhD, LLMFT

Pendo Galukande, BSc, MS

Mark Maxwell, PsyD

Systemic family therapy (SFT) is slowly gaining momentum in many parts of the world, including those in Africa. Given the increased globalization, cross-cultural exchange of scientific knowledge, and calls for considering issues of culture and context (e.g., history of racism and colonialism) in the training and implementation of various SFT models, it is critical that SFT scholars and leaders are intentional about how they engage (e.g., when teaching/training) mental health professionals from culturally diverse and historically colonized settings. Often times, the desire to share clinical and professional expertise (e.g., knowledge and skills) drives collaborations between professionals in countries with discrepant resources (McDowell et al., 2011). However, when there are significant differences in global power and resources, it is critical that social justice issues (i.e., power, privilege, and oppression) are confronted in the process of engaging in systemic work in economically under resourced and diverse cultural settings. In this presentation, we describe a step-by-step process we engaged in to prepare as experts from high-income countries to engage in cross-cultural therapeutic work with professionals from lowi ncome countries in Africa. Guided by principles of socioculturally attuned family therapy (e.g., Knudson-Martin et al., 2019; Seponski et al., 2013), we will share experiences and lessons learned as crosscultural SFT scholars, trainers, and learners, drawing from our work as a team of Ugandan and USA therapists who recently provided a four-day EFT externship training and a couples workshop in Kampala, Uganda. We further share ideas of embracing ongoing reflexivity on own privileges, cultural humility, and curiosity as critical in engaging in effective SFT work in historically colonized parts of Africa.

Navigating Leadership in Multi-Site Program Development and Evaluation Grant Projects

Rikki Patton, PhD

Jessica Chou, PhD

The aim of this presentation is to describe our lived experience in navigating several multi-site and multi-disciplinary grant projects and how our own leadership developed and evolved as part of these projects. We will connect our lived experiences to the leadership literature, focusing on connections to the Big Five and other trending leadership models. We will connect the findings from the literature to concrete strategies that can be applied when engaging in multi-site and multi-disciplinary projects. We will utilize lecture, large and small-group discussion, and experiential activities throughout the duration of the presentation.

The Effect of Music Therapy on Pain

Sareh Behzadipour, PhD, MA

The identification of cancer and the challenging and lengthy treatment journey it entails can significantly elevate stress and anxiety levels in individuals. Patients with cancer may also endure intense pain stemming from the primary illness, metastases, or the administered treatments. Despite these challenges, physicians often prioritize addressing the patients' primary physical concerns, while their mental well-being tends to be overlooked. In this study, we investigated the impact of music therapy (MT) on pain, perceived stress, and anxiety among cancer patients. To connect with the community and implement the music therapy project for cancer patients, we employed a collaborative approach by engaging with local healthcare providers, establishing partnerships with the Oncology Clinic at Amir Hospital in Iran. Additionally, we conducted outreach programs to raise awareness about the project's benefits, fostering a sense of community involvement and support for the integration of music therapy into the routine care of cancer patients.

* Updates will be made to this page up until the week of the event