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Letter from the President: 2014 Conference Review

Denise Parent, LMFT, President CTAMFT

Denise Parent, LMFT, President CTAMFT

by Denise Parent, LMFT, President of CTAMFT (president@ctamft.org)

Thanks to everyone who attended the 2014 CTAMFT Annual Spring Conference at the Trumbull Marriott April 24 and 25.  For those of you who couldn’t attend, we missed you!

This year’s conference was incredibly smooth, thanks to our wonderful new Association Manager, Shannon Eterginio, and her partners in crime – former Association Manager and incoming Board member, Wendy Haggerty and Professional Development Chair and Executive Team member, Ro Coratola.  They were joined by our Professional Development Committee volunteers who make all the hard work look easy.  Thanks again to this team and our friends at the Trumbull Marriott who made both days a pleasure.

On Thursday, keynote speaker Dr. Kelly McGonigal, led an experiential presentation about the neuroscience of compassion, with outlined far-reaching possibilities for helping clinicians, couples, families and caregivers to use mindful attention to enhance and sustain “compassion.”

She was able to define a distinction between compassion and empathy, explaining how compassion, characterized by caring, “approach-based” attention promotes co-regulation of emotion and stimulates mutual refreshment, while “empathic distress” can activate fight/flight responses for both the person who is cared for and the caregiver.

Kelly McGonigal

Kelly McGonigal

A pioneer in the new field of “science help,” Dr. McGonigal uses research and science to motivate and support positive health and connection throughout the lifespan.  Dr. McGonigal practices what she preaches, and created a few moments of “mindful” communication among conference attendees.

She has generously made her presentation slides, as well as some of her audio meditations and exercises available at http://kellymcgonigal.com/ctamft/.

On Friday, we spent a few moments on business.  Please note the CTAMFT 2013 Business Report, the CTAMFT Advocacy & Legislative Report and write-ups on our Service Award recipients.   Dorothy Timmermann received CTAMFT’s Service to the Organization Award, while Robert Ryder and Past-President Jeri Hepworth were chosen for the Service to Families Award.

Congratulations to student poster winners, Allison Collins, Selena Gürman and Hyeseong Kang (link here to read more about these poster session award recipients).

Lou Cozolino

Lou Cozolino

Dr. Lou Cozolino delivered engaging, funny and story-filled presentations about “Why Therapy Works” and “The Social Brain.” He explained that during trauma, the language center of the brain shuts down, and therapy – or the “talking cure” – serves to activate its function again.  This allows for integration of experience and opening opportunities for adaptation or re-learning with replacement experiences and narratives.

Dr. Cozolino shared in his opinion, that brain research supports Bowen theory, that moderating anxiety with a balance of connection and co-regulation increases brain plasticity and adaptability.

In Dr. Cozolino’s “Social Brain” presentation, he talked about the concept of “sociostasis” – the regulation of one person’s emotions by another and discussed the evolutionary importance of “group mind” or collective/tribal stories, serving as external neurocircuits for internal regulation.

He discussed the cultural process of transmitting knowledge from one generation to another and noting how the aging brain is “wired” to tell stories again and again, and the developing child’s brain is “wired” to hear stories again and again.

He spoke about the unconscious and behavioral “downloading” of experience from generation to generation and across communities, which supports multigenerational and contextual thinking in marriage and family therapy.

Dr. Cozolino’s newest book, “The Social Neuroscience of Education: Optimizing Attachment and Learning in the Classroom,” explores techniques to create rich learning environments that are grounded in brain research.

Jeff Schutz

Jeff Schutz

Our local guest presenters, Ingeborg Haug, Jayne Deane, Jeff Schutz and Karl Speirs rounded out our program demonstrating the use of mindfulness, mind-body/yoga, neurofeedback and EMDR in innovative, family-focused and generous presentations.  Thank you Ingeborg, Jayne, Jeff and Karl for your thoughtfulness and willingness to share your discoveries.

Brain Master, our conference Presenting Sponsor, was available to demonstrate their cutting-edge equipment, which provides similar data to MRIs.  They explained that this equipment can be used in conjunction with neurofeedback training, providing symptom relief for a variety of issues, including ADHD, anxiety and depressive symptoms.  Thank you Brain Master, for supporting our conference.

Murtha Cullina, our lobbying firm, generously sponsored a portion of our conference this year, and has supported us with a host of legislative and advocacy efforts, including making important introductions to legislative committee chairs, supporting our efforts with Department of Public Health and monitoring some of the obstacles to the implementation of MFT in the schools legislation.

It was great to visit, share stories and be a part of the community of MFTs in Connecticut.

Letter from the President – November, 2013

Denise Parent, LMFT

CTAMFT President, Denise Parent, LMFT (president@ctamft.org)

Last month I had the opportunity to represent Connecticut at AAMFT’s annual conference in Portland, Oregon. This year’s theme was “Raising Vibrant Children.” Keynotes encouraged vibrancy; talked about maximizing the contribution of urban and marginalized youth; defined family interventions to promote physical health in children; and discussed what it means to promote resilience.

Council of Division Presidents Meeting
Representing Connecticut, I was one of only three Division Presidents to present at the Council of Division Presidents Meeting. My assigned topic was “engagement,” which I described as paying close attention to the experiences we are creating with our members and figuring out how to connect the work we are all already doing to multiply the result.

The Colorado Division discussed how their leadership increased membership “MFT style” by creating collaborations with other associations. The Illinois Division highlighted the process of “doing their homework,” as they prepared to pass legislation to allow MFTs to be hired in Chicago schools.

Division Leaders also talked about key issues like state-to-state license portability. Another featured topic was the need to compile documentation for legislators about MFT as both an evidence-based and cost-effective treatment modality worthy of Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement.

AAMFT Update
We learned that AAMFT has just begun working with an association management consultant and a task force comprised of a variety of Division Leaders to reorganize the association’s structure.

AAMFT Executive Director, Tracy Todd, announced the formation of a new AAMFT non-profit research foundation, an overhaul of the AAMFT website and “branding,” as well as a move forward on Medicare reimbursement for MFTs by co-funding a cost-effectiveness study to support future legislative efforts. A decision to deliver the AAMFT Approved Supervisor courses and refreshers from the national organization after the year 2015 was also discussed.

AAMFT has also been involved with the Texas division in fighting a lawsuit where MFTs ability to “diagnose” has been challenged. The Association has asked for member support to help fund this initiative, as its outcome is important to us all.

Connecticut Featured at the Conference
Our Connecticut Division was well represented collaboratively by our Executive team, Board members, CTAMFT members and students. A special thank you to Michele Parker, MaryAnn Labella, Sebastian Perumbilly and Jessica Floyd, for the work they did to represent our division.

I’d also like to extend congratulations to former Board member and UCONN faculty member, Rachel Tambling, who was recognized for a “cutting edge poster” about developing measures for motivation for treatment.

Personal Highlights
One of my personal highlights was a workshop by the energetic author Diane Gehart. She conducted a “tour” through all the “evidence” about why MFT works – crystallizing how research supports clinical work.

Keynote speaker Andrae Brown challenged us to acknowledge the loss of collective strength through the ongoing devaluing of young minority and native people. Using Langston Hughes’ “Kids Who Die” poem and clips from a young rapper, he asked us to taste this grief, as losing “the iron in our blood” and aspire to promote the contributions of invisible youth with much to offer.

The final conference keynote was the funny and buoyant Dr. Kenneth Ginsberg, who asserted that working with children is “actually the making of 35 and 50 year olds.” We must recognize effort if we want children to put forth effort. Know that “a child is not a measure of our success, a bumper sticker on our cars.” Challenging us to note his status as a full professor of medicine who also has ADHD, he offered “everything he knew about what children need,” while standing on one foot.

Ironically, during Dr. Ginsberg’s keynote, a child spontaneously toddled up onto the stage and wandered in circles. “Unconditional love is being seen as no one else sees you,” he said. And as the child climbed up to the microphone, Dr. Ginsberg gleefully didn’t skip a beat, as if he had perfectly meant him to be there.

CTAMFT Division Bylaws Update

Bylaws

Bylaws

This year all divisions need to update their Bylaws according to the new AAMFT membership categories, which includes what membership categories are eligible to run for positions as officers and board members, plus appointments for committee chairs.

Your Board of Directors have drafted our proposed Bylaws which have been approved by AAMFT. To pass the updated CTAMFT Division Bylaws, a vote is needed by our membership.

Next week voting members will receive a link to vote to approve these changes or to provide feedback. All members may view the final draft version of the CTAMFT Division Bylaws on ctamft.org. (member login necessary)