Tuesday

Tuesday

Breakout Sessions 8:30 a.m. – 9:30 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.

Adverse Childhood Experiences Linked to Suicidal Behaviors Among Emerging Adults in Kenyan Universities

Marion Kirumba Mutwiri, PhD, LMFT

A healthy and trauma-free childhood is associated with positive adjustment in emerging adulthood. On the contrary, adverse childhood experiences are a risk factor for behavioral, relationship, and mental health problems at this stage of life. The link between adverse childhood experiences and suicidal behaviors (suicidal thinking, planning, attempts, and self-harm) is underexplored in the African context, especially in Kenya. In the face of increasing rates of suicidal behaviors among emerging adults in university, the question remains: how prepared are emerging adults to deal with personal, relational, and academic problems?
 
Childhood years are meant to be formative years for physical, cognitive, affective, relational, and spiritual development. Emerging adulthood is a transitional stage characterized by differentiation of self from the family of origin towards establishing personal values, career paths, and intimate relationships. Adverse childhood experiences interfere with a child’s cognitive development, the formation of healthy self-esteem, and impairment in emotional regulation, which is associated with low tolerance to problems and risk of engaging in suicidal behaviors. Adverse childhood experiences do not automatically predispose a child to suicidal behaviors in emerging adults, if the family can respond positively and empathically in support of the child.
 
Families that perpetuate abuse, keep abuse secret, are unstable, inflexible, non-responsive, and have weak relationships nurture ill-prepared emerging adults to deal with life’s challenges. However, loving and supportive families nurture resilience and equip their offspring to deal with problems constructively without engaging in suicidal behaviors. This is because they learn resilience in the family as they observe parents responding to stressful life events in ways that cultivate positive beliefs, adjust well to change, solve problems, and communicate congruently in crisis. Therefore, adverse childhood experiences that were poorly handled in the family are a risk factor for suicidal behaviors in emerging adulthood.
 
Furthermore, the collective African culture that views children as their parents’ property sets up the grounds for abuse and silence in the face of adverse childhood experiences. The culture assumes that what children experience in childhood is forgotten as they mature and has no impact on their health in adulthood. These beliefs are held in the backdrop of a culture that undermines psychological and mental health issues in general, especially in children and youth. This study was conducted to provide an empirical association between adverse childhood experiences and suicidal behaviors among emerging adults. The conclusions have informed parents and families on the need to prevent and address adverse childhood experiences to avoid suicidal behaviors later in their children’s lives. In addition, these conclusions call for university counselors to consider assessing and intervening for adverse childhood experiences in emerging adults presenting with suicidal behaviors in therapy.

Learning Objectives: 

  • Based on this session’s content, I am able to identify adverse childhood experiences linked to suicidal behaviors in emerging adults. 
  • Based on this session’s content, I am able to articulate protective factors in the early family environments against suicidal behaviors in emerging adulthood.
  • Based on this session’s content, I am able to defend the assessment of adverse childhood experiences in the treatment for suicidal students. 

Reproductive Renaissance in Family Therapy

Debbie Manigat, LMFT

Birth equity and reproductive resiliency through the lens of infant mental health reveals the impact that prevention and early intervention can have on family systems and society. Family therapy at the intersection of high-risk pregnancy, infant mortality, and historical trauma for African American families can transform this “reproductive renaissance” (Manigat, 2021). The presenter addresses how the effects of violent experiences like racism on parents, infants and young children sounds the alarm for culturally responsive clinical practice and capacity building in family therapy to serve in obstetrics, gynecology, and pediatric care. This presentation disaggregates narratives on health disparities for African American women during gynecological, perinatal, and infant loss periods to inform and empower family therapists with training alternatives like Family Attachment Narrative Therapy, Calming Womb Family Therapy Model, DC:0-5, Mothers & Babies, Incredible Years, Child-Parent Psychotherapy, Circle of Security, FirstPlay, Brazelton Touchpoints, Attachment and Biobehavioral Catch-Up, Play Therapy, and Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and many others to provide strength-based support. 

Learning Objectives: 

  • Based on this session’s content, I am able to utilize the Birth Equity Toolkit for early intervention and prevention as a blueprint for building professional capacity and skillset for family therapy services during the perinatal period. 
  • Based on this session’s content, I am able to recognize an infant mental health lens to gaining positive outcomes with families. 
  • Based on this session’s content, I am able to create partnerships for prenatal and postnatal care in family therapy practice.

Supporting Couples in the First Year of Postpartum Through a Narrative & Solution-Focused Lens

Hazel Walker, LMFT

The pregnancy and birthing experience for couples is a pivotal time in their relationship. Learning how to talk about the impact of this life transition with couples is important. In this presentation, you will learn about the ways you can support couples in the first year of postpartum. We will explore some of the changes couples go through after the baby arrives. We will look at specific assessment questions you can ask to foster these conversations with your clients. We will explore the benefits of utilizing narrative therapy and solution focused framework to support couples during this period in their relationship. Lastly, we will address our role, as MFTs, in the mission of improving collaborative care for postpartum couples. 

Learning Objectives: 

  • Based on this session’s content, I am able to understand the significance of the pregnancy and birthing experience in the context of a couple's relationship, recognizing it as a pivotal period of transition.
  • Based on this session’s content, I am able to identify specific assessment questions designed to facilitate conversations about the changes and challenges experienced by couples during the postpartum period.
  • Based on this session’s content, I am able to develop practical skills in applying narrative therapy and solution-focused framework to support couples during the postpartum period.

The A-Team: Strategies for Integrating CBT and Systemic Thinking in the Treatment of Anxious Youth

Kenneth Phelps, PhD, LMFT

Children and adolescents are increasingly experiencing heightened rates of anxiety characterized by worry, irritability, panic and avoidance. Presentations of anxiety are complex and at times refractory for youth living with neurodevelopmental disorders. Not surprisingly, anxiety is quite heritable; thus, clinicians will likely find catastrophizing, physiological discomfort and intolerance of uncertainty to be common within the broader family system. Furthermore, there is substantial data supporting the family’s role in accommodating anxiety symptoms, unintentionally destabilizing opportunities for the youth to be brave or overcome fears. Family therapists play a crucial role in remediating symptoms by facilitating regular behavioral experiments and exposures. This presentation will identify key evidence-based strategies drawn from cognitive behavioral approaches with specific attention given to the integration of systemic thinking. The content of this session will be case-based, following anxiety over the developmental course and overviewing key “A concepts” from established treatments – 1) alarm, 2) ants, 3) advisor and 4) accommodation. A variety of resources, such as bibliotherapy and informational podcasts, will be shared throughout the talk.  

Learning Objectives: 

  • Based on this session’s content, I am able to summarize trends in anxiety for youth and families.
  • Based on this session’s content, I am able to describe various evidence-based strategies for helping families navigate anxious distress.
  • Based on this session’s content, I am able to apply treatments, including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and supportive parenting for anxious childhood emotions (SPACE), to case examples from early childhood to late adolescence.

A New Understanding of Generational Trauma Between Mothers and Daughters

Rosjke Hasseldine, MS MBACP (Accredited)

Trauma and adverse childhood experiences are much talked about topics today, but our understanding of the generational trauma that mothers and daughters experience is often missing or used to blame the mother for causing the emotional and mental health issues her daughter is struggling with. 
In this session, Rosjke Hasseldine, a pioneer in understanding the attachment dynamics between mothers and daughters, and the creator of the “Mother-Daughter Attachment® Model” will provide a new understanding of how to identify and heal generational trauma between mothers and daughters. 
Rosjke will provide a systemic, trauma-informed, culture-informed explanation of the generational trauma mothers and daughters experience. Her understanding will dispel many of the mother-blaming attitudes and theories that are commonly used today to explain the trauma and conflict mothers and daughters experience. And she will reveal the trauma mothers and daughters experience through their generational experience with patriarchy, and how patriarchy defines the emotional reality mothers and daughters live in. 
Rosjke will outline scientific research that shows how trauma is passed down from mother to daughter, including neuroscience research that found that the mother-daughter bond is unique in the way that trauma is transmitted from mother to daughter. And she will use a case study and the “Mother-Daughter History Mapping” exercise (the main diagnostic exercise of the “Mother-Daughter Attachment® Model”) to uncover women’s generational experience with patriarchy and generational trauma, and how trauma and the harmful impact of sexism is passed down from mother to daughter. 
 
In this session, Rosjke will discuss; 
1. What generational trauma mothers and daughters experience, how it harms the mother-daughter bond, and is passed down from mother to daughter.
2. Why daughters can inherit the harm that generational trauma inflicts on their mother.
3. Why blaming mothers for passing on trauma is inaccurate and causes harm. 
4. What might be causing today’s increase in mother-daughter estrangement.
5. A case study that illustrates women’s generational experience with patriarchy, how to facilitate the Mother-Daughter History Mapping exercise, and how trauma is passed down the generations from mother to daughter.   

Learning Objectives: 

  • Based on this session's content, I will be more able to identify the generational trauma mothers and daughters experience.  
  • Based on this session's content, I will have a greater understanding of how generational trauma harms the mother-daughter bond.  
  • Based on this session's content, I will have a greater understanding of how to heal generational trauma.  

Reading the Zoom Room and Accessing Emotions: Findings and Implications from Two Qualitative Studies on Couple Teletherapy  

Katie Heiden-Rootes, PhD

Caitlin Edwards, PhD

Andrea Wittenborn, PhD

The session will explore current research on the delivery of couple teletherapy. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, two qualitative studies explored the experiences of EFT therapists (n = 49) and Couple and Family Therapy (CFT) graduate students (n = 66) from COAMFTE-accredited programs traversing a new teletherapy world with couples. Thematic analysis in both studies identified adjustments made by therapists to focus on psychoeducation and steps taken for increasing safety. The findings also identified obstructions to accessing client emotions, dys-appearing client and therapist bodies, and management of a therapist’s own fatigue associated with delivering teletherapy. Diverging findings were also present with EFT therapists expressing comfort in translating in-person skills to a teletherapy platform and considering teletherapy as a permanent move in their professional careers. The presentation will draw from these studies, and previous literature, to offer specific insights for couple teletherapy practice, ethics, and clinical training and supervision.

Learning Objectives: 

  • Based on this session's content, I can describe how the delivery of couple teletherapy differs from in-person couple therapy.   
  • Based on this session's content, I can think critically and ethically about the implications of delivering couple teletherapy. 
  • Based on this session's content, I can apply the findings from these studies to couple teletherapy practice, graduate student clinical education, or supervision.  

From Research to the Room: Reinvigorating Your Clinical Work through Application of JMFT Article(s) - Part 1

Shelley Hanson, MA

Erin Schaefer

Marvarene Oliver, Ed.D.

Too often, practitioners struggle to make application of the leading research produced by JMFT. This two-part session will make use of the JMFT Article, An attachment perspective on couple interaction: Helping couples signal needs clearly and respond appropriately (1 Sept, 2023 by Ryan B. Seedall, PhD and Karen S. Wampler, PhD) to explore how these insights may be applied within the clinical room. Examples, role play, and discussion will be facilitated by the four presenters who bring more than 100 years combined experience of clinical applications. 

Learning Objectives: 

  • Based on this session’s content, I am able to more fully conceptualize clinical application of the research presented. 
  • Based on this session’s content, I am able to explore new techniques for my clinical work. 
  • Based on this session’s content, I am able to recognize attachment signaling and/or trauma responses with greater clarity.  

Breakout Sessions 9:45 a.m. – 10:45 a.m.

How Gender Liberation Can Benefit All Families

Alex Iantaffi, PhD, MS, SEP, CST, CST-S, LMFT 

Over the past four years, we have witnessed a sharp increase in anti-trans legislation across the United States, with 557 anti-trans bills having been introduced across 42 states in the first 5 months of 2024 alone. This situation does not only impact trans, nonbinary &/or gender expansive (TNBGE) individuals but also their families. In addition to the impact on families with TNBGE individuals, the increased desire to legislate access to medically necessary care based on gender has potential repercussions for all of us. In this session, we will first briefly define what gender liberation is (and what it’s not) and then explore how a more liberatory therapeutic approach in relation to gender has the potential to benefit any family we work with as systemic psychotherapists. Participants are invited to bring their curiosity and genuine questions to this session. Clinical questions beyond gender 101 are particularly welcome, even though some 101 questions will also be addressed if need be. Throughout the session, we will address these questions from intersectional and systemic perspectives. 

Learning Objectives: 

  • Based on this session’s content, I am able to recognize the impact of anti-trans legislation on TNBGE clients, their families and our whole communities. 
  • Based on this session’s content, I am able to define gender liberation from a systemic perspective. 
  • Based on this session’s content, I am able to identify ways in which a liberatory therapeutic approach to gender can benefit all our clients, regardless of their own gender identities. 

When a Child Refuses Contact with a Parent After Divorce: What to do?

Kalli Matsuhashi, LP, LMFT 

The purpose of this presentation is to help therapists interested in working with post-divorce, high conflict families learn how to assess and manage these cases. These cases are complex and can be extremely challenging - they are not for the faint of heart! Learning the skills and processes that have been shown to work can be invaluable in working with these families. These families often experience what are called "parent-child contact problems." One form of this is a child resisting or refusing time with one of the parents. Engaging each family member and building the therapeutic relationship while also supporting movement forward is very difficult. This presentation will help therapists learn the concepts and skills needed to support these families and minimize further damage to the family relationships. The presentation will begin by defining the terms relevant to this family therapy niche and providing tools for assessing the dynamics of the family situation. It will then discuss the family dynamics common in these cases and the behaviors of children that are commonly seen. Following this will be several interventions therapists can use when accepting these cases as well as guidance for working with attorneys, understanding the relevant legal considerations, and managing professional liability. 

Learning Objectives: 

  • Based on this session’s content, I am able to identify at least three factors that lead to a child’s resistance to contact with a parent post-divorce.
  • Based on this session’s content, I am able to explain the Continuum of Alignment of parent-child contact problems.
  • Based on this session’s content, I am able to identify at least three interventions for moderate and/or severe parent-child contact problems.

Navigating Differences and Fostering Marital Satisfaction in Therapy for Heterosexual Couples with Diverse Spiritual Beliefs

Collins Anaeche, PhD 

Navigating differences in spiritual and religious beliefs and maintaining marital satisfaction can be challenging for many couples with diverse spiritual and religious convictions. Systemic and relational therapy can provide a safe, supportive, and constructive space for these couples. The objective of this presentation is to provide clinicians with strategies for navigating differences and fostering marital satisfaction in therapy for heterosexual couples with diverse religious and spiritual beliefs.

Learning Objectives: 

  • Based on this session's content, I can develop an enhanced understanding of how the diversity of spirituality and religious beliefs can impact marital satisfaction in heterosexual couples with diverse spiritual backgrounds and religious conviction.
  • Based on this session's content, I can identify the self of the therapist themes relevant to workiong on matters related to spirituality, religious beliefs, and diversity of values that can influence systemic and relational clinical practice.
  • Based on this session's content, I can understand the key therapeutic strategies that can help in working in therapy with heterosexual couples from diverse spiritual and religious beliefs.

Disastershock: International Trauma Response by Family Therapists 

Kathleen Laundy,  PsyD, LMFT, MSW

The Disastershock Global Response Team is an international humanitarian relief organization dedicated to providing free psychological first aid to children and families affected by disaster-related stress. The all-volunteer organization with members from 15 different countries offers information, resources, and, through their Ambassadro program, high school student-to-student contact across national and other divides. Disastershock is a special interest group of the Oxford Symposium on School-Based Family Counseling. They are currently offering services in Israel, Palestine, and the Ukraine. 

Learning Objectives: 

  • Based on this session's content, I can describe what constitutes effective psychological first aid after a disaster.
  • Based on this session's content, I can identify resources for those suffering the immediate consequences of a disaster.
  • Based on this session's content, I can identify ways to connect youth internationally.

"I Am Always Here For Them”: Black Fathers Discuss Characteristics Within Their Father-Child Relationships 

Joslyn Armstrong,  PhD

The literature for Black father-child relationship quality is underrepresented (Gadsen & Smith, 1994; Ohalete, 2007). Generally, scholarship on father involvement and relationship quality with children promotes that the common characteristics of these relationships consists of play, financial responsibility, and presence or residence (Castillo et al., 2013; Coates & Phares, 2014). What we do know is that Black fathers are shown to engage in high levels of participation in interpersonal activities with their families compared to other fathers (Shears, 2007; National Health Statistics Report [NHS], 2013). For Black fathers, scholars state that children who benefit from an involved father tend to exhibit lower levels of mental health disorders and substance use, and increased academic achievement (Peterson, 2007). The purpose of this presentation is to share out from the father’s perspective the behaviors they engage in to build their relationships with their children. Data were collected from in-depth semi-structured interviews with Black men as fathers. Findings highlighted four core themes. Themes emerged such as “I play with them.”, “We hug and we kiss.”, “I am a provider, I am a protector, and I am an educator.”, and “[We have] real conversations.” Qualitative findings suggest that Black fathers contribute to their father-child relationships in empirically similar and distinctly different ways. These results highlighted that Black fathers use a variety of strategies and resources to be involved, participate, and strengthen their relationships with their children (NHS, 2013; Shears, 2007).

Learning Objectives: 

  • Based on this session’s content, I am able to understand the historical and sociocultural factors that impact father engagement for Black men.
  • Based on this session’s content, I am able to identify the various ways fathers engage and build closeness with their children.
  • Based on this session’s content, I am able to explore strategies that Black fathers can utlitize to construct a fatherhood identity that fits with their parenting practice.

From Research to the Room: Reinvigorating Your Clinical Work through Application of JMFT Article(s) - Part 2

Shelley Hanson, MA

Erin Schaefer

Marvarene Oliver, Ed.D.

In the second part of this two-part session, participants will take a deeper dive into their own clinical applications, exploring the practical critical thinking required for decision-making toward relevance within their therapeutic contextual need. Round table discussions and examples will be utilized to explore how application may/may not be relevant, what application may look like in various models, as we further synthesize research from the example article,  An attachment perspective on couple interaction: Helping couples signal needs clearly and respond appropriately (1 Sept, 2023 JMFT by Ryan B. Seedall, PhD and Karen S. Wampler, PhD). 

Learning Objectives: 

  • Based on this session’s content, I am able to recognize attachment signaling and/or trauma responses with greater clarity. 
  • Based on this session’s content, I am able more skillfully advocate for useful clinical research in my occupational or professional association settings. 
  • Based on this session’s content, I am better able to integrate research into my clinical practice and/or supervision. 

Breakout Sessions 2:45 p.m. – 3:45 p.m.

The Silent Crisis of Perinatal Mental Health

Emily Pardy

An enlightening and compassionate session, The Silent Crisis of Perinatal Mental Health is designed to delve deep into the multifaceted challenges faced by individuals during the perinatal period. This session aims to create a profound understanding of the emotional, psychological, and societal complexities
surrounding pregnancy and early parenthood. By exploring the often unspoken and isolating crises of pregnancy, postpartum, infertility, loss, and conceiving after loss, participants will gain insights into the various factors contributing to maternal and paternal mental health struggles.

Learning Objectives: 

  • Based on this session's content, I can Identify Perinatal Mental Health topics and challenges within a client's journey.
  • Based on this session's content, I am able to dialogue effectively and sensitively with clients struggling with Perinatal Mental Health issues.
  • Based on this session's content, I am able to understand the impact of a client's Perinatal Mental Health challenges within the context of their system and expand my compassion for their unique journey.

Supporting and Advancing Family Engagement and Family Therapy within a Psychiatric Hospital: Passion and Perseverance 

Rosemarie Coratola, PsyD, LMFT

This workshop discusses the journey of enhancing family engagement and family therapy within a 200-year-old psychiatric hospital. We will review the rationale and importance of family engagement, and learn about radical recovery in the treatment of individuals with psychiatric illness. Inclusion of multi-disciplinary colleagues and administration in this process is emphasized. Development of training, consultation, supervision, and collaboration is reviewed.

Learning Objectives: 

  • Based on this session's content, I understand the benefits of family engagement and radical recovery in the treatment of individuals with mental health problems and their families.
  • Based on this session's content, I can identify skills needed for a leadership journey within a psychiatric hospital.
  • Based on this session's content, I learned methods to overcome barriers to success when implementing perspectives and interventions that are outside of the “comfort zone” of colleagues.

Clinical Work with Adults Experiencing Ambiguous Loss from Prolonged Singlehood

Jeffrey Jackson, PhD, LMFT

Long-term partnering is the societal norm in most parts of the world; however, research suggests that increasing rates of singlehood are occurring in many countries throughout the world. Although many adults experiencing prolonged singlehood do not experience distress about being single, many do, particularly those who desire being in a committed long-term romantic relationship. This presentation will address how ambiguous loss theory provides a framework for conceptualizing and treating distress caused by prolonged singlehood among adults who are single and desire to be partnered. Adults who are single may experience ambiguous loss due to the lack of clear information as to if or when their single status will change through the materialization of an indefinitely missing anticipated partner. Attachment needs may make complete acceptance of permanent singlehood difficult, perpetuating the ambiguous loss. Specific treatment recommendations (i.e., avoiding contraindicated treatment approaches, implementing an informed not-knowing stance, and fostering dialectical thinking) and adapted established interventions for ambiguous loss (i.e., increasing resilience through normalizing ambivalence, tempering mastery, finding meaning, reconstructing identity, revising attachment, and discovering hope) will be presented.

Learning Objectives: 

  • Based on this session’s content, I am able to describe ways to conceptualize singlehood as an ambiguous loss by adults who are single yet want to be coupled.
  • Based on this session’s content, I am able to summarize specific interventions for helping clients with singlehood ambiguous loss increase resilience.
  • Based on this session’s content, I am able to identify dialectics for managing adult singlehood ambiguous loss.

Treating Childhood Trauma Systemically

Jade Rice, LMFT

When treating children that have experienced some type of trauma, it is important to treat the child in the context of the family system. This training will focus on expanding participants' perspective of trauma focused treatment and moving from individual to relationally focused conceptualization of treatment structure. This training will support participants in increasing their competence in assessing when and how to include family members in trauma treatment. This training will also explore common challenges or unhelpful family patterns that hinder trauma processing for children that have experienced trauma.

Learning Objectives: 

  • Based on the content of this session, I am able to identify ways in which Bowenian Family therapy can be applied when providing therapy to children that have experienced trauma.
  • Based on this session’s content, I am able to identify specific child and caregiver readiness factors for family therapy sessions to address childhood trauma.
  • Based on the content of this session, I am able to identify and address family patterns which may be beneficial or harmful to effective trauma treatment.

Embracing Cultural Competency in Marriage and Family Therapy

Fahra Mawji, MA

This topic is geared at a comprehensive understanding of the diverse cultural beliefs and practices related to mental health across various African cultures, including the impact of stigma and barriers on help-seeking behaviors. Through exploring the importance of cultural competency in building trust, overcoming stigma, and tailoring interventions to align with clients' cultural backgrounds, exploring, and strategies for adapting therapeutic approaches ethically and effectively. This learning journey will also include insights into accommodations for, collaboration with traditional healers and community resources, and success stories showcasing the positive outcomes of culturally competent interventions, with the overarching goal of promoting empowerment, resilience, and holistic well-being in African clients within the context of marriage and family therapy.

Learning Objectives: 

  • Based on this session's content, I can recognize the stigma and barriers surrounding mental illness in African communities and their impact on help-seeking behaviors.
  • Based on this session's content, I can appreciate the importance of cultural competency in overcoming stigma, building trust, and tailoring interventions for clients.
  • Based on this session's content, I can explore strategies for adapting therapeutic approaches to align with clients' cultural beliefs, values, and preferences.

Post-Trauma Therapy for Children & Families: Integrating Neurobiology, Attachment, Emotion & Discipline in Recovery

Kat Scherer, PhD

Elizabeth Sylvester, PhD

This presentation provides a science-based understanding of childhood trauma, including abuse and neglect, emphasizing the power of the caregiver-child relationship to facilitate healing and transform families. We integrate neurobiology, attachment, emotion regulation, and discipline to guide clinical decisions: 1. Neurobiology: Discuss the foundation of our neurophysiology, including children’s trauma responses, polyvagal theory, and the recovery process. 2. Attachment: Investigate early caregiver relationships, review children's '7 Essential Attachment Needs,' explore signs of healthy attachment, attachment disruptions, and interventions to improve security. 3. Regulation: Examine signs of emotional health and instability, and outline steps to strengthen emotional resilience. 4. Post-Trauma Discipline: Highlight how effective discipline evolves from secure attachment and emotional stability, and in turn supports security and regulation. We will discuss concrete steps to help caregivers set limits in effective and non-damaging ways, review the pitfalls of discipline when parents or children are dysregulated, and offer strategies for healthy discipline after trauma. This discussion will deepen therapists' knowledge of family dynamics after trauma, help identify areas of concern, and implement effective strategies for impactful change. It is a hopeful, science-based approach with accessible interventions to facilitate recovery from trauma and improve family dynamics.

Learning Objectives: 

  • Based on this session’s content, I am able to assess the caregiver-child relationship and plan concrete steps to improve attachment security. 
  • Based on this session’s content, I am able to guide family therapy to improve emotion regulation and resilience 
  • Based on this session’s content, I am able to help caregivers develop healthy discipline habits that are effective and non-damaging. 

Systemic Inclusive Framework: Integrating Global Contexts in Local Work 

Mudita Rastogi, PhD

The Systemic Integrative Framework (SIF) (Rastogi, 2020) emphasizes that systemic conceptualization and interventions must include an integration of a global perspective and 3rd order thinking. This is imperative for multiple reasons including 

  • Incorporation of knowledge from the Global Mental Health (GMH) movement helps systemic family therapists practice in more inclusive and culturally sensitive ways. The body of work in the area of GMH focuses on privileging local knowledge, indigenous experiences, inequities, differences, and diversity in thinking within and about families and communities across the globe. It is especially meaningful to those that have connections across the diaspora due to their values, identities, immigration status, displacement, and relationships with family, friends, and their communities. 

  • Use of the SIF allows therapists and clients to pay special attention to the ongoing impact of sociopolitical and longer-term events around the world, such as war and conflicts, mass trauma, and climate change. In a world of growing diversity, high connectivity and wide networks, people are deeply impacted by events even in seemingly far off locations.  

Case material will help participants apply this framework with clients and consider interventions that include tapping into the larger community. Finally, the SIF encourages mental health practitioners, students, clients, and readers to examine the underlying assumptions of Euro-American frameworks in CMFT and ask themselves how they can pursue a just approach, whether it’s through appreciating local knowledge, validation of different perspectives, listening to stories of resilience, and/or advocacy.

Learning Objectives: 

  • Based on this session’s content, I am able to learn the fundamentals of the Systemic Inclusive Framework (SIF).
  • Based on this session’s content, I am able to deepen my knowledge of Global Mental Health (GMH) as it applies to systemic family therapy. 
  • Based on this session’s content, I am able to utilize SIF, GMH practices, and 3rd order thinking when intervening with my clients. 

When Emotion, Power, & Societal Context Converge: Advances in Socio-Emotional Relationship Therapy

Carmen Knudson-Martin, PhD, LMFT

This presentation explores what happens as societal context, power, and emotion converge in couple therapy. Video clips illustrate how to apply Socio-Emotional Relationship Therapy (SERT), an approach that centers relational justice as an important component of ethical, socioculturally attuned practice and challenges cultural discourse that privileges individuality at the expense of relationships. Developed through over 15 years of process research focused on what works to create transformative, third-order change, SERT interrupts societal-based inequities and enables partners to realize their expectations for mutually supportive, health affirming relationships based on the Circle of Care––mutual vulnerability, attunement, influence, and relational responsibility. Participants will learn key clinical strategies for each of the three phases of the SERT clinical sequence, with an emphasis on mapping the socio-contextual nature of emotion, working with the connections between power and sociocultural vulnerability, and implications for clinical decision-making in couple therapy. 

Learning Objectives: 

  • Based on this session's content, I can map how societal context, power, and emotion converge in couple therapy.
  • Based on this session's content, I can use clients’ positions in the Circle of Care to guide clinical decisions.
  • Based on this session's content, I can apply new clinical strategies for sociocultural attunement and working with power in couple therapy.

Queer and Trans Advocacy: Systemic Approaches for Change 

M. Evan Thomas, PhD

Astrid Carrington, PhD

This presentation will focus on systemic advocacy for the queer and trans community. Both presenters are leaders in QTAN who work on advocacy at the local, state, and national levels. The presenters will discuss advocacy that is occurring in QTAN in partnership with AAMFT, how attendees can get involved with advocacy and the ethical importance of advocating for the queer and trans community as an LMFT. 

Learning Objectives: 

  • Based on this session's content, I can understand the importance of systemic advocacy. 
  • Based on this session's content, I can describe ways to advocate for the queer and trans community.
  • Based on this session's content, I can state the ethical importance of advocacy as a systemic therapist.

Breakout Sessions 4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Marriage and Family Therapy Solutions for Faith-Based Supports

Debbie Manigat, 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.

Learning Objectives: 

  • Based on this session's content, I can utilize the science of implementation to created a strength based mental health consultation model that can be integrated at churches and/or faith-based organizations.
  • Based on this session's content, I can coordinate and collaborate with faith-based systems of care to gain access to specialized educational presentations on mental health and stigma prevention.
  • Based on this session's content, I can take action on information for resources and solutions connecting the signficance of spirituality and mental wellness.

Got Questions? We Have Answers! A Moderated Question and Answer Session with a Panel of Trans Clinicians

Sar Surmick, LMFT

There’s a lot of misinformation out there about what it means to be Trans, Non-Binary, and/or Gender Expansive. We thought we’d take this opportunity to address your questions. Our panel of Trans MFTs will answer questions about working with Trans clients, managing oppression, working within the Trans community, systemic perspectives, and anything else you want to know.

Several important notes:

  1. This is not a Trans 101 panel. For basic information, see our other Trans focused panels.
  2. Clinical practice questions will be prioritized.
  3. The panel will be moderated. Questions deemed oppressive, harmful, hateful, or inappropriate won’t be addressed. 
    Please join us for an illuminating conversation.

Learning Objectives: 

  • Based on this session's content, I can better define what working with Trans clients looks like.
  • Based on this session's content, I can define at least three concerns around working with Trans and Trans adjacent identities.
  • Based on this session's content, I can apply my understanding to affirming behavior in and out of the therapy room.

Avoiding Legal Jeopardy when Working with High-Conflict Co-Parenting: Do's and Don't's

William F. Northey, Jr., MFT, PhD

Family therapists (MFTs) working with high-conflict custody issues face a unique and elevated risk of legal and ethical complaints to regulatory boards. For MFTs, the likelihood of facing a complaint is not a matter of if, but when. Although many complaints are unsubstantiated and often dismissed, they generally arise from a client’s dissatisfaction with the therapeutic process or an outcome deemed undesirable, the potential for legitimate grievances underscores the need for robust protective measures. This workshop will equip participants with essential strategies to navigate these challenges, emphasizing the importance of thorough documentation, maintaining professional boundaries, and ensuring legal competence. Participants will leave with a comprehensive understanding of the best practices to safeguard their practice while effectively supporting families in conflict.

Learning Objectives: 

  • Based on this session’s content, I am able to recognize the importance of documents and documentation.
  • Based on this session’s content, I am able to understand how to mitigate the risk of getting a board complaint for a conflict dealing with custody issues. 
  • Based on this session’s content, I am able to appreciate how to utilize the resources available when dealing with a board complaint.