2020 WAMFT September Conference

Conference Information

Conference is Sponsored By:

Conference Information

Theme: Eating Disorders

Conference Dates:
September 18-19, 2020

Schedule: Total of 10 CEs

Friday, September 18, 2020
1:00 pm - 2:00 pm State to Trait, Mindfulness and Self-Care by Sheri Austin 1 CE
2:00 pm - 5:00 pm Emotional and Binge Eating, Chronic Dieting, and Shame: What Clinicians Need To Know by Judith Matz 3 CEs
5:00 pm - 6:00 pm Networking Cocktail Hour

Saturday, September 19, 2020
9:00 am - 10:00 am Food Fight: Eating Disorders and Adolescents by Hilmar Wagner 1 CE
10:00 am - 11:00 am Nurturing a Positive Relationship with Food in Families to Support Eating Disorder Prevention and Recovery by Becky Schmechel & Jessica Herrmann 1 CE
11:00 am - 12:00 pm Facilitating Family Involvement in Eating Disorder Recovery by Brenda Velissaris & Emily O'Connor 1 CE
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm Lunch Together & Awards
1:00 pm - 3:00 pm Building Stress Resilience by Dr. Donna Rifken 2 CEs
3:00 pm - 4:00 pm WAMFT Annual Meeting & Discussion Forum 1 CE

Registration Pricing
WAMFT Student $30.00
AAMFT Student $50.00
WAMFT Network Member $100.00
AAMFT Network Member $150.00
Non-Member $200.00
Speaker/Board Member $0.00
Registration Open


Sheri Austin, MS-MFT-SAC

Sheri is a MS-Marriage and Family Therapist, Substance Abuse Counselor and Mindfulness Meditation Teacher in private practice. She has a rich background in ecological and holistic health practices as well as experience as an NIH clinical researcher in sleep disorders. Sheri combines her love of nature with psychology, mindfulness and movement practices to integrate safe and simple techniques into her therapy practice working with mood disorders, trauma, gender, parenting, addiction and personal development. She has helped develop recovery options for Tellurian, The Family Center, Rock County Correctional Services and Wounded Warrior Project. Sheri is a group facilitator and advocate for Project Maria, an eating disorder education and support organization and is also involved in the development of therapeutic horticulture offerings at Rotary Botanical Gardens in Janesville, WI.

State to Trait, Mindfulness and Self-Care

This workshop includes information, discussion, and experiential exercises to invite the perspective of self-care not just as something to do to balance one's professional practice, but as a way of being with oneself and relationship with one's practice - from doing to being. We invite the perspective of self-care ALSO in practice/during the day….being with underlying needs in the moment…consistent mindful moments that rewire the brain.

Learning Objectives

  1. Participants will be able to discuss and compare the definitions and meaning of self care.
  2. Participants will learn a guided reflection process to uncover internal process recognition of needs.
  3. Participants will develop strategies for present moment self care.

Earn 1.0 CE


Keynote Speaker: Judith Matz, LCSW

Judith Matz, LCSW has worked in the field of eating problems and weight concerns for over 30 years. She received her Master’s degree from University of Michigan and completed a post-graduate fellowship at Michael Reese Hospital where she trained in the treatment of eating disorders. Judith is co-author of Beyond a Shadow of a Diet: The Comprehensive Guide to Treating Binge Eating Disorder, Compulsive Eating, and Emotional Overeating (2nd edition, 2014); The Diet Survivors Handbook: 60 Lessons in Eating, Acceptance and Self-Care (2006), The Body Positivity Card Deck (PESI Publishing, 2020) and author of the children’s book Amanda’s Big Dream. Judith is a popular speaker at national and international conferences, and descriptions of her work have appeared in the media including the Psychotherapy Networker, New York Times, LA Times, Fitness, Good Housekeeping, Self, Shape, Today’s Dietitian, Diabetes Self-Management, NBC News Chicago with Nesita Kwan, Huffington Post Live, and she appears in the documentary America The Beautiful 2. Judith has a private practice in Skokie, IL, where she works with clients with Binge Eating Disorder and those who want to break the diet/binge cycle and learn to feel at home in their bodies. Judith is dedicated to helping people end the preoccupation with food and weight and to fighting weight stigma.

Emotional and Binge Eating, Chronic Dieting, and Shame: What Clinicians Need To Know

“I’m an emotional eater.” I have to lose weight if I want to be healthy.” I know what I’m supposed to do, but I just don’t do it.” “My eating is out of control.”

These types of comments are common in our culture, and frequently make their way into the clinical setting. While the treatment of eating disorders requires specialized training, it’s important for all mental health professionals to understand the paradigm shift happening in our field when it comes to eating problems and weight concerns. After all, societal norms regarding eating, weight, and health affect every client we work with, regardless of body size.

In this keynote you’ll discover how recovery from overeating and bingeing is more than a matter of self-control, weight loss, or even understanding the emotional triggers. Judith will teach you how to integrate multiple facets of treatment—including the attuned eating framework, the role of shame and self-compassion, emotional regulation, body image strategies, understanding weight stigma and the Health At Every Size® paradigm—so that clients have the tools necessary to end overeating and develop a healthy relationship with food, their bodies, and themselves.

Learning Objectives

  1. Participants will learn how the 5 components of the diet-binge cycle result in chronic dieting.
  2. Participants will learn how to implement the three steps of attuned/intuitive eating to reduce out of control eating.
  3. Participants will be able to describe the process of translating emotional issues into eating and weight loss focus that results in shame.
  4. Participants will be able to describe strategies to cultivate a positive body image and combat internalized weight stigma.
  5. Participants will learn how the Health At Every Size framework promotes wellness beyond weight.

Earn 3.0 CEs


Hilmar Wagner, MPH, RDN, LN

Dr. Wagner is a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist (RDN) and Licensed Dietitian in the state of Minnesota and Washington. He has worked in the field of eating disorders for the past 13 years, he currently serves as the Nutrition Coordinator, Clinical Education Specialist and Dietetic Internship Coordinator for the Emily Program. In this role he initiates and coordinates training of new and existing dietetic staff, dietetic interns and continuing education for nutrition services for all Emily Program locations. In his role as Clinical Education Specialist he presents on a wide range of nutrition topics at local, regional and national conferences.

Hilmar received his Bachelor’s degree in Nutrition/Dietetics and Master’s Public Health Nutrition from the University of Minnesota. He has extensive experience working with clients of all eating disorder diagnosis in both individual and group settings and has a particular interest in mindfulness and body-centered approaches to eating disorder recovery.

Food Fight: Eating Disorders and Adolescents

Eating Disorders (EDs) in adolescents have the highest mortality and morbidity of any mental health disorder, are more common than type 2 diabetes and yet remain under recognized, diagnosed and treated. EDs affect young girls and boys of all socio-economic groups, minority populations and sexual orientations. This presentation will provide an overview of the current research into who is most susceptible and why, what warning signs to look for, what are the best evidence-based treatments and when/how to refer for specialized care.

Learning Objectives

  1. Participants will understand the social, biological and psychological risk factors for adolescent and eating disorders.
  2. Participants will become aware of the relationship between weight stigma and weight bulling and their impact on the development of eating disorders in adolescents.
  3. Participants will be able to identify the warning signs for adolescents who might be struggling with eating issues and how and when to refer for specialized care.

Earn 1.0 CE


Becky Schmechel, RD, CD, CEDRD-S

Becky is a Certified Eating Disorder Registered Dietitian and Supervisor Lead Dietitian and Nutrition Director Evolve Healing, a division of Refresh Mental Health with almost two decades of experience and opportunities to develop as a practitioner. She has focused her practice at Evolve and her private practice to the areas of food and body image issues. She has a passion to help individuals have a healthy and healed relationship with food, exercise, and their bodies. In addition to working individually with clients, Becky has received additional training in coming alongside Family Based Therapy to give parents nutrition support and recommendations. Having worked in a variety of settings and levels of care (clinical, community, partial hospital program, intensive outpatient, and outpatient), Becky feels equipped and honored to come along side individuals and families in their recovery.

Becky is also passionate about investing in other dietitians and offers supervision to those interested in learning how to effectively counsel those who have eating disorders. In addition to being a nationally Registered Dietitian (RD) and a state Certified Dietitian (CD), she is an IAEDP certified eating disorder dietitian and supervisor (CEDRD-S). Becky has been a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor (www.intuitiveeating.com) since 2011, which compliments her non-diet and Health at Every Size philosophy.


Jessica Herrmann, RDN, CD

Jessica earned her Bachelor’s degree in Dietetics from the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point. She went on to complete her year-long dietetic internship at the University of Michigan (Michigan Medicine) Hospital in Ann Arbor under the Clinical Nutrition emphasis. During her internship, she gained experience in the Comprehensive Eating Disorders Program at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, where she discovered a passion for working with adults and adolescents with eating disorders. After completing her internship, she returned home to Wisconsin and spent a year working as a clinical dietitian within a hospital system. As a clinical dietitian, she worked with a wide variety of hospitalized patients with medical conditions including but not limited to diabetes, critical illness and cancer.Her favorite aspects of being a dietitian include encouraging positive relationships with all food and helping people recognize that health looks different for everybody.Jessica joined the Evolve team in December of 2019 with an eagerness to pursue her passion of helping people heal their relationship with food and their bodies, as well as discover what optimal health looks like individually from a multi-dimensional perspective.In her spare time, Jessica enjoys cooking, reading, being outdoors, going to the movies, spending time with friends and family, playing piano and singing.

Nurturing a Positive Relationship with Food in Families to Support Eating Disorder Prevention and Recovery

We will discuss the complexities of how our relationship with food and our bodies can be influenced by the culture we live in. We will discuss the key factors in the development of eating disorders as well as how to support families in setting up a positive voice for their children/adolescents in regards to each of their relationships with food and their bodies. Practical application will be offered on how you can support families in fostering a supportive home environment of eating disorder prevention and recovery.

Learning Objectives

  1. Participants will be able to describe influences in our relationship with food and body.
  2. Participants will be able to identify key factors in the development of eating disorders.
  3. Participants will  be able to discuss innovative strategies to support and empower clients and families struggling with eating disorders.

Earn 1.0 CE


Brenda Velissaris, LPC NCC CEDS-S

Brenda is the founder and executive director of Evolve. Evolve is the first eating disorder treatment clinic in Northeast Wisconsin. Being a psychotherapist for over 15 years, she specializes in anxiety disorders, eating disorders, self-esteem, body image issues, and trauma/post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Brenda is a member of EMDRIA and IAEDP and is certified in EMDR and Brainspotting.  Additionally, Brenda achieved the esteemed credential of being an eating disorder specialist and a certified eating disorder supervisor.


Emily O'Connor, LPC, NCC, CEDS

Emily graduated from Marquette University with her Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and specializes in working with eating disorders. Her experience and passion grew for working with this population during her time working at Aurora Psychiatric Hospital in the eating disorders unit. She is humbled by the clear resiliency in these individuals and aspires to facilitate healing within each of them. Her therapeutic approach is integrative – mainly drawing on skills and techniques from cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, and acceptance and commitment therapy.

Emily has always been incredibly passionate about serving others. In the past she gained experience working with children with autism, older adults with dementia, and non-English speaking immigrants before finally finding her niche with eating disorders. She considers herself an advocate in addition to a therapist, always willing to speak up for those whose voices go unheard. It is important to understand that contrary to popular opinion, eating disorders do not discriminate against age, gender identity, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, social class, or disability status. Emily believes it is integral to meet her clients where they are and build upon their natural strengths to heal their minds and bodies. She strives to help her clients make changes in their daily lives that can lead to holistic living, feelings of empowerment, and an overarching sense of fulfillment.

Facilitating Family Involvement in Eating Disorder Recovery

This presentation will provide a thorough understanding of the role family involvement plays in Eating Disorder recovery and why their involvement is crucial for recovery. Attendees will learn effective ways to assist families about how to navigate the anxiety provoking and sometimes confusing world of eating disorders. As well as, educating the clinician about best practices to use with families affected by Eating Disorders.

Learning Objectives

  1. Participants will develop confidence and competence with addressing families who are affected by eating disorders.
  2. Participants will be able to understand the significance of family involvement with eating disorders.
  3. Participants will learn practical tools to use with families affected by eating disorders.

Earn 1.0 CE


Dr. Donna Rifken, Psychologist

With a Ph.D. in Child Clinical Psychology, Donna offers the Community Care Resources and Programs team over 30 years of experience in the assessment and treatment of youth hurt by abuse, neglect and mental illness.  Donna is a pragmatic clinician, treating and assessing youth using evidence-based, proven strategies. She simplifies neuroscience concepts to take shame and blame out of the treatment session and to encourage curiosity and a motivation to heal. With a variety of hands-on, playful materials, she teaches/coaches youth and their adults how to calm their emotional brains and develop more effective problem solving skills. Her goal is to find ways to stabilize youth so they can show their best selves. Donna is trained in Trauma Informed Child Parent Psychotherapy (CPP), Trauma Informed Cognitive Behavior Therapy (TF-CBT), and Mindfulness Meditation.

Dr. Donna provides training to educators, Child Protective Services professionals (CPS), and mental health providers on the impacts of traumatic stress on the brain. She has robust training resources to help grown-ups strengthen their own stress resilience and create classroom programs to help students do the same. She has worked with school districts throughout the state from Suring to Racine and Green Bay to Boscobel. She believes that educators and county service providers are our children’s most important community resources.

Building Stress Resilience

Let’s face it – we lead stressful lives. We are ‘first responders’ for many of our most beleaguered youth and families. We try to understand complicated life challenges, teach coping skills, offer comfort and encouragement, and advocate in the larger system of care. Then we go home and do it all over again for those we love. Sometimes we are impacted by the traumatic stresses affecting others and develop secondary traumatic stress (STS).

So how do we build our resilience to maintain equanimity and compassion in the face of stress? Research from around the world is showing that mindfulness meditation calms the stress response and strengthens emotional resilience.

Join me to understand how mindfulness meditation works in the brain and learn a simple, but powerful practice, to take with you. We will review recent research and examine several strategies to build stress resilience. As Dan Harris from ABC News suggests, meditation is a wellness ‘no-brainer’ like brushing your teeth and exercising.

Learning Objectives

  1. Participants will learn how chronic stress impacts the brain and body.
  2. Participants will be able to review research on how mindfulness meditation strengthens resilience
  3. Participants will learn and practice several mindfulness meditation practices to use anywhere, anytime.

Earn 2.0 CE

WAMFT Annual Meeting & Discussion Forum

Leadership will present updates on geographic interest network (GIN). Leadership will present on advocacy, events, topics, and calls for actions. More specifically, how members can collaborate with leadership around advocacy, educational benefits, driving our field forward, and networking opportunities. This forum will end with a Q&A section for members to participate in.

Learning Objectives

  1. Participants will learn how to advocate for GIN.

  2. Participants will learn how to contribute to conference/webinar presentations.

  3. Participants will learn what distinguishable programs WAMFT offers them in preparation and purpose of integrating them with others to advance the profession.

Earn 1.0 CE

Consider Advertising with Us

When you advertise with us, our members are seeing you throughout the conference. Your ad can be displayed in our conference manual that is emailed to our registered attendees prior to our events. Or you can choose to display your ad in our conference ad slideshow. Slideshow ads are showcased a minimum of two times before and after events. All ads can be in color or black and white.

Conference Manual Ads

Card Sized Ad – 2” x 3.5” $15
Quarter Page – 4”x5” or 8”x2.5” $30
Half Page – 8”x5” or 3.75” x 10” $45
Full Page – 8”x10” $60

Slideshow Ads

Card sized Photo Ad $15
Quarter Page Photo Ad $30
Half Page Photo Ad $45
Full Page Photo Ad $60
Full Page 30 sec. Video Ad $75

If you are interested in advertising or sponsoring with us, complete the following: Advertising/Sponsorship Form

Consider Sponsoring/Exhibiting with Us

Bronze Sponsor $120

Features one exhibit table and one organization representative at the table. Half page advertisement in slideshow presentation.

Silver Sponsor $240

Features one exhibit table and one organization representative at the table. Half-page advertisement in the Conference Brochure and slideshow presentation. Includes one WAMFT Conference registration.

Gold Sponsor $370

Features one exhibit table and two organization representatives at table. Full-page advertisement in Conference Brochure and slideshow presentation. Includes two WAMFT Conference registrations.

Platinum Sponsor $585

Features one exhibit table and as many organization representatives at table as you wish. Full-page advertisement in Conference Brochure and full-page 30 sec. video advertisement in slideshow presentation. Includes four WAMFT Conference registrations.