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Annual Conference 2014
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Dynamic Conference Speakers—In Their Own Words


By Stephen A. Giunta,

Stephen A. Giunta is AMHCA President-Elect, 2013–2014, and
chair of AMHCA’s Conference Planning Committee.

We are expecting another sell-out conference this year. Why wouldn’t we? We have a timely conference theme—“Thriving in the New Era of Healthcare Reform”—that guided our selection of preconference workshops and general session/clinical presentations. And each day of our general session will begin with a keynote address from a nationally recognized expert. 

Do You Know the Number-One Quality in a Romantic Partner? (It’s Not How Sexy They Are)

We open the first day of the general session on Friday with a keynote by John Gottman, PhD, the country’s foremost couples researcher, discussing the topic of his latest work, “The Science of Trust and Betrayal.” How valuable is Gottman’s work on trust and betrayal? Well, quoting Gottman: “… when social psychologists ask people in relationships, ‘What is the most desirable quality you’re looking for in a partner when you’re dating?’, trustworthiness is number one. It’s not being sexy or attractive. It’s really being able to trust somebody.”

Further, Gottman and UC-Berkeley psychologist Robert W. Levenson, PhD, conducted a 20-year longitudinal study of couples in the San Francisco Bay area. They discovered when they re-contacted all of the couples in the study every six years that many of the low-trust-level couples were not coming back. At first they supposed that these low-trust couples may have dropped out of the study because they failed to appreciate the study’s value. 

However, when Gottman and Levenson looked deeper, they found that these participants had not dropped out. They had died. They discovered that 58 percent of the husbands 

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in low-trust couples died over the 20-year period of the study, while only 20 percent of husbands in the high-trust couples died in that 20-year period. Amazingly, this was true even after controlling for the husband’s age and initial health.

Gottman’s research also explains the physiological impact associated with trust and betrayal. And he has determined that not only is trust essential to healthy relationships and associated with better health and longer life, it also appears to be essential to healthy communities, healthy states, and healthy nations. No less importantly, Gottman offers research-based interventions that we can use to help couples work toward greater levels of trust in their relationships. You won’t want to miss this keynote address!

Work in a Psych Ward as Teenager Shaped SAMHSA Administrator Pamela Hyde, JD

Saturday morning’s keynote—"Challenges and Opportunities for Mental health Professionals: Behavioral Health as Public Health in an Era of Health Reform"—will be given by Pamela Hyde, JD, the head of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

When Pamela Hyde was confirmed by the U.S. Senate in

Saturday Keynote

SAMHSA Administrator Pamela Hyde, JD, will discuss:

  • The current drivers of change in the behavioral health field including behavioral health’s role in public health;
  • Implementation of the Affordable Care Act; and
  • Emerging issues facing the behavioral health workforce.
She will also explore ways to strengthen partnerships and address the evolving role of providers with regard to new opportunities for behavioral health in health care.

November 2009 as administrator of SAMHSA, she was given the task of reducing the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America’s communities, a Herculean task. Our profession has an opportunity to play a key role in that task.

An attorney, Hyde came to SAMHSA with more than 35 years’ experience in management and consulting for public healthcare and human services agencies. She has served as a state mental health director, state human services director, city housing and human services director, as well as CEO of a private, nonprofit managed behavioral healthcare firm. In 2003, she was appointed cabinet secretary of the New Mexico Human Services Department by Gov. Bill Richardson.

And yet, what may separate Hyde from other government administrators occurred when she was a teenager doing volunteer work as a  “candy striper” in her local hospital, where she was assigned to its psychiatric unit. 

In a 2011 interview with Behavioral Healthcare, she referred to that experience as her first exposure to mental illnesses and substance use and recalls being surprised to discover that she knew two people on the ward. 

At 16, Hyde suddenly realized that any of us could become mentally ill or addicted to a substance and that these were people like her. This awareness and the doubts about the value of the treatment these individuals received, doubts raised by observing the people in the ward, caused her to ask, “What really helps people?” Now, as SAMHSA’s administrator, she is responsible for the policies that guide our nation’s behavioral health services.

Given the emphasis of the Affordable Care Act on wellness and prevention, and given the enhanced role that clinical mental health professionals may play in wellness and prevention, it’s gratifying that Hyde sees those roles, along with early intervention, as among the most important and exciting advancements in mental health in the past decade. In her interview with Behavioral Healthcare, Hyde noted that a 2009 Institute of Medicine report validated the importance of wellness and prevention.

Don't Miss the Only Conference Devoted Exclusively to Clinical Mental Health Counseling

John Gottman’s work and Pamela Hyde’s leadership are both applicable to our conference theme—“Thriving in the New Era of Healthcare Reform”—and both are germane to the four preconference workshops on Thursday, and many of the general session presentations offered at this year’s conference. Our keynote speakers exemplify AMHCA’s commitment to a conference entirely devoted to the dynamic needs of clinical mental health professionals.

Take advantage of the lower rates for conference registration and your stay at the conference hotel. Reserve your room at the Renaissance Seattle Hotel—call 1-800-546-9184, and mention the AMHCA group rate. The group rate is available through June 19 (at 11:59 PST), or until the room block is filled.

Register for the conference by June 25 for the best rates. For information and the full conference schedule:

  • email:
  • call: 877-743-5312