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Annual Conference 2012
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A Time to Get Away From Daily Pressures—and to Learn, Reflect, and Share

By Karen Langer, LMHC
AMHCA President-Elect, and Chair,
AMHCA 2012 Conference Planning Committee

When was the last time you were able to get away and just relax without feeling that you had to stay connected by phone or email to whatever—or whomever—you left behind? We have come to expect that we should always be available, and all this connectivity gives an unrealistic expectation of instant solutions and answers. 

It is impossible to watch the news without recognizing that we live in challenging times. Chaos seems to be a regular theme: war and returning veterans with physical and mental trauma, budget deficits, economic chaos worldwide, high unemployment, Americans losing their homes, students challenged to find employment in their field upon graduation. And, to compound things, instant information makes it difficult to ever get away from the news and chaos. 

All this chaos makes life and client work challenging, but the modern world also gives us the ability to connect with people in so many ways. Our work as clinical mental health counselors is examined and shared at AMHCA’s Annual Conference, where we are presented with opportunities to: 

  • Look at values from other worldviews
  • Look at the simpler things in life, go back to basics
  • Look at what we do have and what we give to others—the spirit of volunteerism
  • See the strength and resiliency in people every day
  • Look at new ways to view therapy
  • Biological basis of treatment
  • Trauma
  • Co-occurring disorders
  • New approaches
  • Look at what we do well and evaluate our effectiveness
  • Be grateful for all the fabulous therapists
  • Look at who we are as a profession and our role as clinical mental health counselors

The 2012 theme, “Counseling in the Modern World: Challenges and Opportunities,” was a natural choice for the Conference Planning Committee, since it reflects what we see in our everyday world and in our work with clients. We look forward to the conference sessions addressing the challenges of working with clients facing a chaotic and fast-paced world, and the opportunities we have to learn of new ways to help our clients. 

And, of course, we will start the conference with Poster Sessions showcasing research from members. What a great way to start!     

In addition to the learning that I always do at AMHCA Annual Conferences, I find that I gain as much or more from my interactions with the presenters and the other professionals and students at the conference. I enjoy the networking, connecting with old friends and colleagues, meeting new friends, and the renewal that occurs during every AMHCA conference. 

When you’re not in session at the conference, I know you’ll find that this year’s host city, Orlando, offers a plethora of activities and fun for adults and kids alike. Golf, theme parks, water parks, pools, tennis, spas, sightseeing tours, airboat rides, jet-ski rentals, balloon rides, fishing, shopping, museums, and arts are all available to you in Orlando. 
If being active isn’t what you crave, schedule some pool or spa time at the beautiful conference hotel,  
Buena Vista Palace Hotel & Spa. The hotel is ideally located in the Walt Disney World Resort, and is just across the street from thrilling Downtown Disney and close to all the major attractions. Take a complimentary shuttle to visit all four Disney Theme Parks and water parks.

I hope you’ll take the opportunity to be “unavailable” and just enjoy some time away next summer at AMHCA’s 2012 Annual Conference in sunny Florida. 

I look forward to seeing you in Orlando, July 19–21.