Thursday

Thursday

Breakout Sessions 8:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.

Please be aware that the schedule reflects the Eastern Time Zone. The programming schedule will be continuously updated leading up to the event.

 

Desire is Not a Switch: How to Help Couples with Desire Discrepancy Part 1

Angela Skurtu, LMFT, CST

In this presentation, clinicians will learn to think of desire as a spectrum rather than an on/off switch. In our culture, we use language such as "turn on." What turns you on? What turns you off? This type of thinking is too binary and causes harm when people are learning how to improve their sexual desire in long term relationships. It creates the unfair idea that you are either on or off, which is black and white thinking. Rather than turning each other on, individuals need to learn how to build and maintain sexual energy. This training will start by covering some common sex therapy training ideas from Emily Nagoski (The Dual Control Model), Metz and McCarthy (The Good Enough Sex Model and Intentional Eroticism), and Esther Perel (Selfish and Selfless Lover). Each of the desire trainers has done an excellent job at giving paradigms for understanding desire. My training will provide a more wholistic view of desire that combines the ideas from these excellent trainers to create a more complete picture. While using their skills and strategies on my clients repeatedly, I learned a great deal about how to hone these desire skills in new, creative ways. This training will cover some of the skills I am writing about in my own Desire Discrepancy Book (expected in Fall 2024) and offer a desire paradigm shift for improving couples sexual health. Part 1 will cover: Brief Overview of the Desire Models from Emily Nagoski, Michael Metz and Barry McCarthy, and Esther Perel; Desire as a Spectrum; Understanding the Sympathetic Nervous System, the Parasympathetic Nervous System, and the Arousal System.

Learning Objectives: 

  • Based on this session 's content, I am able to describe basic aspects of the three models of desire by Nagoski , Perel , and Metz and McCarthy..
  • Based on this session' s content , I am able to use the Desire Spectrum to help clients make more intentional, personal choices about their sexual journey.
  • Based on this session's content, I am able to understand the impact of the sympathetic nervous system, the parasympathetic nervous system, and the arousal system on my client's ability to enjoy sex and experience desire.

Telemental Health with Kids

Richard Long, PhD, LMFT

Elizabeth Gervais

Most telemental health care training did not include how to implement therapeutic techniques with children (Marschall, 2023). From an overview of play therapy, to an exploration of effective interventions MFTs can use in online therapy with children, to an exploration of adjustments to consider, this workshop will fine tune your ability to engage comfortably with children from ages 3 to 10.

Learning Objectives: 

  • Based on this session's content, I can summarize current approaches to play therapy.
  • Based on this session's content, I am able to give examples of interventions that can be used online with children.
  • Based on this session's content, I am able to identify ways interventions can be adjusted to meet therapeutic needs.

Everything Therapists Need to Know About Sex but Never Learned

Robert Weiss, LCSW, CSAT

When clients come to us related to mental health, family and addiction concerns, why do our clinical assessment evaluations and bio-psycho-socials rarely include concrete questions about sex? How is it that many of us are open to exploring early-life sexual trauma, but not adult sexuality and intimacy? Why don’t we ask explicit question is about a client’s sexual life as readily as we do food, exercise, work and the like. What about masturbation? What about Porn? What about cheating? What about paying for sex? Sex tells us a great deal about our client’s problems with substance abuse, mental health and the important relationship between early-life trauma and adult intimacy. How meaningful is human sexuality to our lives and those of our clients? Thus, this presentation is designed to help clinicians improve clinical outcomes by clearly assessing and openly addressing sexual issues from day one.

Learning Objectives: 

  • Based on this session’s content, I will learn best practices toward to include sex in my assessments.
  • Based on this session’s content, I am able to explore explicit details of my client’s adult sexuality.
  • Based on this session’s content, I am able to assess the relationship between early-life trauma and adult sexuality.

We Are All Trauma Therapists: Highlighting the Importance for Systemic Therapists to be Trauma-Informed

Jamila Holcomb, LMFT

Given the pervasive nature of trauma and its significant implications on the psychological, physical, and relational health of our communities, it is imperative that systemic therapists utilize trauma-informed best practices within their clinical work. This presentation will be grounded in empirical evidence while promoting practical assessment and intervention for clients.The focus will be on providing definitions of trauma, identifying various types of trauma (both common and complex), and exploring the connection that trauma has on our brains, bodies, and overall functioning. Additionally, the presentation will outline trauma-informed best practices for systemic therapists to apply to their clinical work with children, families, and couples. Special attention will also be placed on self-of-the-therapist factors such as identifying countertransference and clinicians managing their own trauma responses.

Learning Objectives: 

  • Based on this session’s content, I am able to define trauma and identify common types of trauma.
  • Based on this session’s content, I am able to conceptualize the ways in which trauma impacts our mental, physical, and relational health.
  • Based on this session’s content, I am able to integrate trauma-informed best practices into my clinical work.

Family Therapists in Integrated Health Care: Strategies, Best Practices, and Next Steps

Tai Mendenhall, PhD, LMFT

Contemporary care contexts represent sites that family therapists must be at least modestly conversant with (e.g., coordinating an urgent evaluation/ hospitalization for a suicidal patient), and calls across both care literature and care practices are increasing for family therapists to train and function as fully-integrated members of health teams. In this session, the presenter will begin by describing important elements of medical culture(s), paired with what family therapists must know and understand in order to effectively engage with such sites. Key strategies for collaborating with and/or within different site types (primary, secondary, and tertiary care) will be described. Discussion(s) will extend these descriptions of family therapy practice(s) across a continuum of integration, moving beyond baseline (off-site) service coordination to fully integrated (on-site) behavioral health practice and teamwork with biomedical providers (e.g., physicians, nurses) and sibling disciplines in mental health (e.g., psychologists, social workers, chaplains). Lessons learned, educational/training resources, and next-steps in clinical practice and care evaluation will be shared. Time for questions, discussion, and consultation will be allotted in conclusion.

Learning Objectives: 

  • Based on this session's content, I am able to articulate common obstacles to interdisciplinary collaboration alongside specific strategies to prepare for and effectively navigate them.
  • Based on this session's content, I am able to build and maintain collaborative working relationships with biomedical (e.g., physicians, nurses) and other mental health (e.g., psychologists, chaplains) providers in integrated care teams.
  • Based on this session's content, I am able to outline and access a variety of educational/training resources informative to clinical practice in patient and family-centered practice(s).

Understanding and Supporting Neuro Complexity within TNBGE Populations

Catherine Keech, MA, LMFT

This session will focus on how clinicians can support TNBGE communities which also present with various neuro complexities. Clinicians often work with neuro complexity but aren’t taught to track or support neurodivergence. Many clinicians frame treatment positing the therapist as the expert who the client should look  to for direction. But experience shows that it’s best to both have the client be the driver of the discussion of their life, so that they can confidently drive their life moving forward. This session will cover various forms of neuro complexity and support clients and clinicians in understanding the nuances, complexities, and needs of this community,  or simply create a lens through which to understand and embody TNBGE experiences to map and understand, to collaborate for effective client care. 

Learning Objectives: 

  • Based on this session's content, I can state two ways to support clients with plural gender experiences.
  • Based on this session's content, I can define auti gender and how that impacts gender expression.
  • Based on this session's content, I can name three ways therapy shifts my therapy practice to support more positive connections with neuro-complex individuals.

Grant Writing: Developing Competitive Grant Applications 

Adriatik Likcani, PhD

I have been able to attract millions of dollars in grants and contracts mostly operating in a rural county. I have written proposals for small, medium and large grants. I teach grant writing to our graduate students. Several graduates work with grant projects and some work as PI/PDs because of having been successful in receiving grant awards at the state and/or federal level. My experience has been with state, federal and foundation grants. In this sessions I plan to share with you where to look for funding and how to write competitive grants to get funding for your projects. I will cover a lot of information on where and how and provide you with some tips from my experience in grant writing, project design, implementation and evaluation. 

Learning Objectives: 

  • Based on this session’s content, I am able to locate grants based on my area of interest. 
  • Based on this session’s content, I am able to understand basic elements of a grant proposal. 
  • Based on this session’s content, I am able to understand the steps I need to take to be eligible to apply. 

Breakout Sessions 9:15 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.

More Than Just Coping Strategies: Liberating Our Clients From the Impact of Oppressive Systems

Jamila Holcomb, PhD, LMFT

Our world is experiencing a mental health crisis. The aftermath of a global pandemic, economic inflation, wars and genocides, political attacks on identities and human rights, widespread systemic racism and barriers for marginalized groups, rapid climate changes, etc., all are systemic factors that have and will continue to negatively impact our mental health. While systemic therapists are uniquely aware of the impact of systemic factors on our mental health, many may feel ill-equipped on how to clinically address these concerns. This presentation will explore the current systems that are impacting our mental, physical, and relational health and highlight the necessity for therapists to provide more than just the standard coping strategies to assist client's in navigating these oppressive systems that are causing us harm. Guided by liberation frameworks that emphasize the importance of collectivism, raising critical consciousness, establishing radical hope, and fostering activism/resistance, this presentation seeks to offer systemic therapists additional clinical strategies that will not only enhance our client’s healing journey but contribute to dismantling the systemic barriers as well. 

Learning Objectives: 

  • Based on this session’s content, I am able to identify current systemic factors that impact our collective mental, physical, and relational health.
  • Based on this session’s content, I am able to articulate my clinical role in naming and addressing systemic factors that negatively impact my client’s health.
  • Based on this session’s content, I am able to integrate liberatory and affirming approaches into my clinical practice.

Treatment Courts: An Evidence-based Approach for Addiction

Susan Lea, LMFT, LMFTS, CGP

Marriage and Family Therapists are educated and trained to be client-centered, with the client leading treatment goals. Treatment courts are structured, with the client agreeing to strict oversight upon entering treatment court. In this setting, therapists operate from a different perspective than that of counseling that takes place outside of the criminal justice system.

Learning Objectives: 

  • Based on this session's content, I can describe benefits of Treatment Court and how Treatment Court groups operate.
  • Based on this session's content, I can identify systems approaches to clinical work within the criminal justice system.
  • Based on this session's content, I can identify ways to build a therapeutic alignment in a criminal justice setting.

Desire is Not a Switch: How to Help Couples with Desire Discrepancy Part 2

Angela Skurtu, LMFT, CST

In this presentation, clinicians will learn to think of desire as a spectrum rather than an on/off switch. In our culture, we use language such as " turn on." What turns you on? What turns you off? This type of thinking is too binary and causes harm when people are learning how to improve their sexual desire in long term relationships. It creates the unfair idea that you are either on or off, which is black and white thinking. Rather than turning each other on, individuals need to learn how to build and maintain sexual energy. This training will start by covering some common sex therapy training ideas from Emily Nagoski (The Dual Control Model), Metz and McCarthy (The Good Enough Sex Model and Intentional Eroticism), and Esther Perel (Selfish and Selfless Lover) . Each of the desire trainers has done an excellent job at giving paradigms for understanding desire. My training will provide a more wholistic view of desire that combines the ideas from these excellent trainers to create a more complete picture. While using their skills and strategies on my clients repeatedly, I learned a great deal about how to hone these desire skills in new, creative ways. This training will cover some of the skills I am writing about in my own Desire Discrepancy Book (expected in Fall 2024) and offer a desire paradigm shift for improving couples sexual health. Part 2 will review the desire spectrum and cover various intervention skills that can be used to help couples improve desire. These interventions will include intentional eroticism, the power of neutral and self-compassion language, grounding yourself in your sexual identity, and as many desire interventions that I can reasonably teach in a 60 minute period.

Learning Objectives: 

  • Based on this session's content, I will learn how to use self-compassion as a means to shift a client's internal monologue around sex and desire.
  • Based on this session's content, I will develop mind/body techniques that help clients become more present in their bodies when they are having sex and moving into sexual experiences with their partner.
  • Based on this session's content, I will curiously embrace creative sexuality as a movement to teach clients how to develop their own authentic sexual voice.

Helping Each Partner Accept Their Mortality So That Each May Enjoy Their Marriage

Bill Forisha, PhD, LP, LMFT

Lauri Wood, PhD, LMFT

Natural and Experiential Systemic Therapy (NEST) aims to help couples get more of what each partner wants and less of what each partner doesn’t want in their co-created relationship. However, the less visible aim is to help each member get more of what each “really really” wants (or doesn’t want) as they navigate through their differences to discover their similarities. NEST is based on the integration of two disparate approaches to systemic therapy. Bowenian Family Therapy and Relational Gestalt Therapy promote the conscious differentiation of a self within the context of multisystemic levels of interaction. The former advocates for doing so with as little emotional reactivity as possible—so that members may listen more thoughtfully to one another and problem solve in a rational yet empathic manner. In contrast, the latter seeks to intentionally elicit emotional reactivity so that seminal developmental events in the lives of each member, the origin of which most often pre-dates the current relationship(s), becomes accessible to co-reflection and the co-generation of new meanings. These disparate approaches to similar ends appear to find common ground within Terror Management Theory. TMT supports experientially drawing the family members’ attention away from the idiosyncratic aspects of their disagreements and towards their transcendent longings for experiencing a balance between individual creativity and emotional security. TMT suggests that coming to terms with mortality in the conference room may be a catalyst for such therapeutic endeavors.

Learning Objectives: 

  • Based on the content of this session, I am able to describe the natural and cyclical etiology of creativity, freedom, loneliness, and the need for anxiety management.
  • Based on the content of this session, I am able to describe how individual strategies to manage anxiety emanated from each partner’s family of origin.
  • Based on the content of this session, I am able to describe the relational value of accepting mortality.

Shifting Perspectives - Integrating Personal Experience Through Engagement with All Senses

Audrey Cook, M.Phil

My work primarily involves multi-generational trauma impacting individuals, couples and families. Attachment is my focus, and I want to present simple, useful tools for therapists to teach their clients, so that clients can integrate their fore, mid and back brains and be able to find peace and freedom from intense anxiety, depression, substance misuse, panic and dissociation. I find this work very helpful for my clients to use when the need for help arises, rather than waiting for their next appointment with me. I also find the work helpful for myself, as I have worked with so much trauma, for so long, that I have a hyper-vigilant brain myself. I think all therapists working with extreme, early onset multiple trauma, neglect and abuse would benefit from this self-help set of tools.

Learning Objectives: 

  • Based on this session' s content, I am able to explore the role of shock and disbelief in trauma.
  • Based on this session's content, I am able to explore visual, auditory and kinesthetic differences in perception.
  • Based on this session's content, I am able to explore my own experience with simple techniques.

Authenticity Therapy: A New Frontier in the Theory and Practice of Depression Treatment

Yudit Maros, LMFT, C.Ht.

In this presentation we will explore how the philosophy and practices of Authenticity Therapy can lock treatment into a fast and effective way to treat depression. AT's a body-centered approach to establish positive self-parenting in four steps; this is the very antidote to depression and anxiety, because it helps clients to connect with their true feelings and needs without resistance. Inner Connection, and the resulting Inner Guidance, i.e. authenticity ensures need fulfillment. This resolves the disconnection and numbness that lead to depression. We will explore a new philosophy of health, and how the four steps of positive self-parenting heal by reconnecting mind and body, Inner Child, and Inner Parent.

Learning Objectives: 

  • Based on this session’s content, I am able to understand depression in new, helpful light.
  • Based on this session’s content, I am able to assess clients on a continuum from disconnection to connection with feelings and needs.
  • Based on this session’s content, I am able to use Authenticity Therapy with as a framework with my clients.

A Holistic Approach to Understanding the Interconnection of Social Media, Relationships, and Body Image

Charlece "Charlie" Bishop, 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 relationships and body image. Growing studies are showing 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, it’s not uncommon for modern-day relationships to develop through social networking sites such as Facebook, Instagram, or dating applications. Social media platforms also highlight society’s standards of beauty which could lead people to reflect on body image, negative comparisons, and impact their satisfaction with body image. Further, extensive studies focus on body image and its consequences on mental health. Unfortunately, there needs to be more research examining 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, specifically teens? Lastly, how does social media impact mental health overall? In closing, this presentation will reflect the realities and effects of social media presence on interpersonal relationships and body image. It will bring awareness to the positive and negative influences on body image as well as identify useful methods to convey mental health via social media. Lastly, this presentation aims to bridge the gap in the literature; however, further research is needed on this topic.

Learning Objectives: 

  • Participants will be able to identify the effects of social media on interpersonal, family & romantic relationships.
  • Participants will understand social media’s positive and negative influences on body image.
  • Participants will be able to identify methods to spread mental health awareness via social media.

Breakout Sessions 10:45 a.m. – 11:45 a.m.

The Intersection of Family Systems and the Justice System: A Systemic Approach

Domonique Rice, PhD, IMFT-S, CFMHE, CCCE, CFBA

Family Therapy and Engagement in the justice/forensic system with severe mental illness/severe emotional disturbance population. This session explores the intersection of family therapy and the justice system, focusing on individuals with severe mental illness (SMI) or severe emotional disturbance (SED). The presentation addresses the unique challenges and opportunities for systemic family therapists working with this population, emphasizing the holistic development of the therapist, the enhancement of clinical skills, and the integration of therapeutic practices into community and institutional systems.

Learning Objectives: 

  • Based on this session’s content, I am able to understand how justice involvement impacts family roles, relationships, and dynamics, particularly in families dealing with severe mental illness (SMI) or severe emotional disturbances (SED), and identify patterns of leveraging family strengths.
  • Based on this session’s content, I am able to develop and implement innovative therapeutic interventions tailored for families affected by SMI/SED within the justice system, using techniques for managing unique challenges and collaborative approaches involving multiple stakeholders.
  • Based on this session’s content, I am able to integrate family therapy practices into community and institutional systems by building collaborative partnerships with justice professionals, mental health services, and community organizations and advocating for systemic changes to better support families impacted by SMI/SED.

Common Sexual Problems: Lessons from Couple Therapy

Arthur Nielsen, MD

Sexual problems are extremely common in marriage and topics in couple therapy. Most couples seeking therapy have diminished or stopped their sexual intimacy. While some identify sexual problems as chief complaints, in most cases, sexual concerns emerge in therapy, embedded in other issues. While some sexual problems resolve with overall relationship improvement, others require our focused attention. Most clients have trouble talking about their sexual lives, and many therapists are anxious about how to engage in such discussions. This presentation is based in large part on the speaker’s extensive experience with couples struggling with sexual problems and is the subject of a chapter in his recent book, Integrative Couple Therapy in Action: A Practical Guide for Handling Common Relationship Problems and Crises. 

Learning Objectives: 

  • Based on this session’s content, I am able to understand the special importance of sex in committed relationships and the challenges of talking about sex with clients.
  • Based on this session’s content, I am able to take a detailed, relevant sexual history. 
  • Based on this session’s content, I am better able to work with the most common couple complaints concerning sex: flagging desire, desire discrepancies, and restarting sex after it has been interrupted.

Depressive Symptoms & Systemic Family Therapy Principles

Jennifer Benjamin, PhD, MA

Therapists treating depressive symptoms in youth feel the weight of the system demanding, “Fix this client!” While caregivers question the therapist, “How many more sessions will you need before their behaviors stop?” Depressive symptoms are the result of the client’s internal life, family life, and their connection to the broader social ecology. The dilemma of the therapist is how to stay systemic when assessing, creating treatment agreements, and intervening to address these key areas. This training will utilize a recorded family therapy session to demonstrate the use of systemic family therapy principles to block the old pattern of blaming the client and forge the new pattern of engaging family as part of the solution for treating depressive symptoms. 

Learning Objectives: 

  • Based on this session’s content, I am able to identify the pattern that binds the family in crisis.
  • Based on this session’s content, I am able to reframe the problem of depressive symptoms as an interpersonal challenge for the family to solve together.
  • Based on this session’s content, I am able to identify how to use an enactment to aid the client in constructing a therapeutic alliance.

The Intersection of Family Systems and the Justice System: A Systemic Approach

Domonique Rice, PhD, IMFT-S, CFMHE, CCCE, CFBA

Family Therapy and Engagement in the justice/forensic system with severe mental illness/severe emotional disturbance population. This session explores the intersection of family therapy and the justice system, focusing on individuals with severe mental illness (SMI) or severe emotional disturbance (SED). The presentation addresses the unique challenges and opportunities for systemic family therapists working with this population, emphasizing the holistic development of the therapist, the enhancement of clinical skills, and the integration of therapeutic practices into community and institutional systems.

Learning Objectives: 

  • Based on this session’s content, I am able to understand how justice involvement impacts family roles, relationships, and dynamics, particularly in families dealing with severe mental illness (SMI) or severe emotional disturbances (SED), and identify patterns of leveraging family strengths.
  • Based on this session’s content, I am able to develop and implement innovative therapeutic interventions tailored for families affected by SMI/SED within the justice system, using techniques for managing unique challenges and collaborative approaches involving multiple stakeholders.
  • Based on this session’s content, I am able to integrate family therapy practices into community and institutional systems by building collaborative partnerships with justice professionals, mental health services, and community organizations and advocating for systemic changes to better support families impacted by SMI/SED.

Demystifying the Process of Improving Your State Medicaid Plan 

Kelly Roberts, PhD, LMFT

Melissa Miller, MSW

As therapists, we have the skills to influence change in human systems, one by one. Advocacy skills, however, can influence change for all families connected to various systems – like Medicaid, for example. In this workshop, participants will learn general Medicaid structural knowledge, gain understanding of typical cycles and processes for revising their state Medicaid plan, and hear tips to save time and strengthen approaches for new rules proposals. Examples will be given for two changes to the speaker’s state Medicaid plan: services for children with autism and Medicaid contracts for individual providers. Co-speaker will provide insights from agency insider perspectives. 

Learning Objectives: 

  • Based on this session’s content, I am able to apply a working knowledge of how Medicaid is structured and funded. 
  • Based on this session’s content, I am able to plan new initiatives for my state Medicaid plan across a full year cycle. 
  • Based on this session’s content, I am able to integrate family therapy practices into community and institutional systems by building collaborative partnerships with justice professionals, mental health services, and community organizations and advocating for systemic changes to better support families impacted by SMI/SED.