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2013 Annual Conference
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By; Judith Bertenthal–Smith, LPC, ALPS
AMHCA President–Elect, 2012–2013, and 
Chair, AMHCA 2013 Conference Planning Committee

As mental health counselors, we pride ourselves on being open-minded and nonjudgmental. We are respectful of alternative viewpoints. Yet, we all struggle professionally and personally with truly living up to this standard. We are committed, thoughtful people; however, we are part of the American public. Judging from this past year’s election, we have become a nation of polarization. 

Sadly, this divisiveness has colored how we view people, and which news channel we watch. As a result, our representatives in Washington are hindered from representing their constituents. This chasm restricts important exchanges of ideas and limits cohesion. As much as we have been trained to show the “blank screen” with our clients, we may be less successful than we think. Our conference theme, “Resilience, Transformation, and Advocacy” reflects this division, yet allows for change that is at the core of development and change.

Since a unifying aspect of AMHCA’s conferences in recent years has been starting both full days of the conference all together with a keynote address, we are pleased to offer two keynotes this year:

Friday Keynote Address

  • “The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion”

We are excited to have social and cultural psychologist Jonathan Haidt, PhD, deliver our keynote address on, “The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion.” Haidt has written extensively on the emotional foundations of morality and its cultural variants. He addresses the interaction between reason and intuition and the biological and evolutionary basis for differing views. 

He is also a noted expert on positive psychology. He will follow his keynote with a question-and-answer session. Haidt is at New York University’s Stern School of Business, where he is the Thomas Cooley Professorof Ethical Leadership. Before coming to Stern, Professor Haidt taught for 16 years at the University of Virginia.

Saturday Keynote Address

  • “The Challenges of Reintegration Following Deployment”

We received such positive feedback about the 2012 Annual Conference panel discussion on “Warriors and Their Families” that we again are devoting time at the conference to the needs of our veterans and their families. 

We are pleased that William Brim, PsyD, deputy director of the Center for Deployment Psychology, will address, “The Challenges of Reintegration Following Deployment.” Brim served on active duty as a psychologist in the United States Air Force from 1997 to 2007. The focus of Brim’s clinical work, supervision, and training is on deployment- and redeployment-related mental health issues, specifically assessment and treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder and insomnia. 

Additionally, Brim focuses on health psychology clinical practice and supervision, and the integration of mental health services in primary care. He also offers forensic psychology expert consultation and witness services.

The Center for Deployment Psychology will also give a conference workshop on “Evidence-Based Treatments for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder” for those working with veterans and their families who want to increase their knowledge and skills.

Two Timely Topics for Pre-Conference Workshops

  • Gary G. Gintner, PhD, LPC, will offer “DSM-5: A User’s Guide”

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) of the American Psychiatric Association, which has been being revised over the past five years, will be published in May by the APA. The DSM-5 represents a fundamental shift in how disorders are conceptualized and diagnosed. 

This workshop provides an overview of the manual’s new organization and other innovations such as spectrum disorders. Changes to major psychiatric diagnostic groups are reviewed, and participants have the opportunity to practice using the new system.

Gintner is an associate professor and program coordinator of the Counseling program at Louisiana State University. He is a nationally recognized trainer on the DSM and best practice guidelines. His 30 years of clinical experience include inpatient care, substance abuse counseling, and outpatient mental health. He served as AMHCA’s 2007–2008 president and currently chairs both its DSM-5 Task Force and the AMHCA Foundation.

  • Mary Alice Fisher, PhD, will offer “Ethical Implications of Electronic Technology, Teletherapy, and Technotherapy”

With technology constantly changing, Fisher investigates the ethical and legal implications of electronic client communications and electronic data storage. She will outline the safeguards counselors should have in place, compare counselors’ professional ethical requirements versus HIPAA’s legal requirements, and discuss training of clinical and nonclinical staff, supervisees, and students.

Fisher is the founding director of The Center for Ethical Practice, Inc., and a clinical psychologist in private practice in Charlottesville, Va. For 25 years, she has conducted workshops and consulted for mental health service providers of all professions on ethical issues and ethical-legal conflicts in clinical practice. For her work with Virginia clinicians, she was awarded Fellow status in the Virginia Academy of Clinical Psychologists, an academy of the Virginia Psychological Association.

For the Latest Conference Information

Don’t miss out on all the timely conference presentations from the only organization working exclusively for mental health counselors. 

For more information, see the conference ad below, or AMHCA's conference website.

We look forward to seeing you in July!