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2011 Annual Conference
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Two Keynotes to Teach Us How to Be More Effective Counselors, and More Resilient, Loving, and Wise

By Gray Otis, PhD, LPC, CCMHC, Chair,
Conference Planning Committee, and 2010–11
AMHCA President–Elect 

When working with couples, I am always fascinated to see how some of them are able to work through virtually any problem. Despite the most demanding challenges, these couples have forged a great working partnership. 

They may need a little sense of perspective, so they show up in my office for a time or two. Then they are off and on their way as a supportive team of two. They can deal with almost anything, as long as they can partner with each other.

I have been asked, “What is the reason the Conference Planning Committee chose Scott Miller and Rick Hanson to be our keynote speakers?” 

The short answer is that both of them understand this same strength, the power of partnering. Scott D. Miller,PhD, has a passion for understanding the special characteristics of successful clinical counselors. His research extensively explores the mindset as well as the common variables that transform ordinary counselors into highly tuned counseling professionals. The therapeutic ability of these counselors makes all the difference for their clients.

But Miller did not stop there. After understanding the qualities of successful counselors, he worked to develop a way for all of us to become more effective. His enthusiasm for the qualities of excellence translates into real skills we can use in practice. 

Recently he authored with Barry Duncan, PsyD, “The Heart and Soul of Change: Delivering What Works in Therapy.” If you need evidence, Miller has the data that back up his suggestions for how to become an advanced practitioner of clinical mental health counseling. 

Rick Hanson, PhD, is a neuropsychologist who advocates integrating modern brain science with ancient contemplative mindfulness. His book, “Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love and Wisdom” (with Richard Mendius, MD), demonstrates effective ways to light up brain circuits that relieve worry and stress while promoting positive relationships and inner peace. For our clients and for ourselves, we can all employ his approaches to alleviate anxiety and enhance emotional well-being.

Hanson illustrates how great teachers used their minds to change their brains in ways that inspired millions. Through integration, all of us can shape our brains and thus realize greater resilience, love, and wisdom. Think about the possibilities of partnering with clients to help them cool down stress, greed, and hatred while clearing out resentment and ill will. At the same time, they can enhance their natural core of calm and contentment through the energy of compassion, empathy, and love. 

Some members of AMHCA’s Conference Committee have personally seen the impact of these two speakers. After hearing about their experiences and then reviewing the websites of Hanson and Miller, it was easy to recognize how each of them markedly contribute to the “Power of Partnerships, Effective Pathways to Mental Health,” our conference theme.  

Each full day of the conference will begin with a keynote address, serving to bring us all together to start the day sharing the fruits of a stimulating, enriching session.

As an added benefit to conference attendees, Miller and Hanson have each kindly offered to host a half-day workshop following the keynote address. 

I hope to see you in San Francisco, July 14–16.