Teal Background

Join us for our 39th Annual
Meeting and Open Conference
in Philadelphia, PA
May 31– June 3, 2017

Hosted at the Sheraton Society Hill Hotel

Innovation: Family Therapy Today and Tomorrow

he unique history of family therapy has positioned the field for years of success. To continue its long lived legacy of being at the cutting edge of mental health research and clinical work, we must embrace our bravery as a field to traverse uncharted territories in contributing to the mental, emotional and relational well-being of individuals, couples and families. Integrating our many roles and identities as educators, scholars, researchers, clinicians and global citizens requires a space to learn and model ways to further innovation and creativity in our work as relational educators, healers and researchers.

Our world today and tomorrow is yearning for a family therapy field that is unafraid to push boundaries and develop “out of the box” solutions to critical issues that challenge individuals, couples, families and communities we serve. As a field, how are we making the future family therapy part of our contributions to the healing of our society? What innovative work are we doing today in the classroom, outside the classroom in the therapy room, out of the therapy room and in research? And how would these innovative works define the future of family therapy? Join us at the 2017 AFTA conference to advance an innovative and creative family therapy for today and tomorrow.

About the Conference

Leaders in the mental health field from the U.S. and around the globe will showcase their work in presentations that illustrate a wide reach of individual, couple, and family therapy in a variety of contexts and applications, both clinical and non-clinical. All presentations are eligible for CEs unless otherwise indicated. The 39th Annual Meeting and Open Conference includes over 20 CEs with full registration.

The conference will officially open with a Welcome Reception at 7pm on the evening of Wednesday, May 31st, and will end on Saturday, June 3rd, with a Closing Reception and the annual AFTA Awards Ceremony.

Our Plenary Speakers will cover a range of topics addressing innovation in our field. Additionally, Interest Groups and Network Conversations will provide opportunities for in-depth discussions. The new format this year will offer over 40 concurrent and special sessions as well as familiar AFTA events such as Pearls of Wisdom, the Poster Festival, Institutes, and Thursday evening special events.

For more information about the 39th Annual Meeting and Open Conference, contact us.

Thank you to all who attended the 38th Annual Meeting and Open Conference in Denver. Please see below for more information about the event.

Read our complete 2016 conference program

2016 Plenaries

Thank you to all our 2016 Plenary Speakers!

Thursday, June 23 

Two Therapists, Two Methods: A Dialogue on Couples Therapy
Moderator: Michele Bograd, Ph.D.
Speakers: Terry Real, Ph.D., Richard Schwartz, Ph.D.

It is rare for two well-respected therapists who developed different models of couples therapy to dialogue about their differences and similarities in public. Terry Real believes in “joining through the truth” and the value of educating clients. His method has three phases: 1) Waking up our clients; 2) Trauma work; 3) Coaching. Dick Schwartz calls himself a “hope merchant,” and believes clients possess an inherent wisdom that can be released when conditions are safe enough. Terry focuses on treating the present situation, and sees dealing with family of origin issues as useful but secondary – necessary but not sufficient. Dick believes that healing early trauma experiences is often key to improving relationships. Through lecture, video demonstration, and spirited conversation participants will engage in an exploration at once challenging and mutually respectful. The plenary will be moderated by Michele Bograd, a highly regarded couples therapist herself.

Friday, June 24

Improving Screening, Intervention, and Research via Evidence-Based Criteria for Family Maltreatment
Moderator: Marianne Wamboldt, Ph.D.
Speaker: Richard Heyman, Ph.D.

Nuanced, multifaceted, and valid diagnostic criteria for relational problems (e.g., intimate partner abuse, child maltreatment, couple and parent-child problems) have been created and can be used reliably in the field even by those with little-to-no clinical training/background. These criteria were included in the DSM-5 and in proposals for ICD-11. The use of such criteria such as these would likely lead to more reliable decision making in the field and more consistency across studies. Further, agreement with master reviewers on family maltreatment criteria was far higher than that usually reported for individual mental disorders. This presentation will provide an overview of (a) relational problems’ scope and impact; (b) the reliable, valid, field-tested diagnostic criteria that have been used and the adaptation of these criteria used in DSM-5 and the proposed for ICD-11; (c) the screeners, questionnaires, and interviews used to assess them; (d) ongoing research of the criteria (e.g., international usability studies as part of the ICD-11 process; a just-begun large replication and extension study); and (e) implications of the criteria for improved screening of, intervention for, and research on couples and families. Learning Objectives: (1) Define the criteria for family maltreatment and couple relational problems incorporated into the DSM-5 and proposed for ICD-11; (2) Describe the evidence for the reliability, validity, and field-testing of the criteria; and (3) Explain the implications of the criteria for improved screening of, intervention for, and research on couples and families (1 CE)
Therapeutic Change within an Intersectional Lens
Moderator: Marianne Wamboldt, Ph.D.
Speaker: Rhea Almeida, MS, Ph.D., LCSW

Re-thinking the ethics of therapeutic convention calls for re-situating the concept of self-embedded in multiple identities of power, privilege, and oppression operating simultaneously. White Supremacy, Coloniality, Cis-Hetero-Patriarchy, Racialized Dominance, and Capitalism intersect in ways that create vastly different nodal experiences for individuals, families, and communities. Decolonizing strategies of healing necessitate debunking the myth of individual and autonomous family structures. Centering the discourse on structural violence as a standpoint to therapeutic and policy initiatives this presentation will address healing for families caught in the crossfire of domestic and community violence. Learning Objectives: (1) Learn about the interlocking identities of victims, children and offenders; (2) Learn strategies for healing across generational boundaries; and (3) Experience the building of social capital across multiple fault lines of gender, race, class, and other targeted identities. (1 CE)

Saturday, June 25 

Intersections in Clinical Practice
Moderator: Jodie Kliman, Ph.D.
Panel: Andraé L. Brown, Ph.D., LMFT, Celia J. Falicov, Ph.D., Carmen Knudson-Martin, Ph.D.

As family and systems practitioners, trainers, and researchers, how can we make creative use of the dynamic tension between those professional agendas dedicated to assuring competencies in our fields and those addressing the effects of power, privilege, and marginalization on our work?  Panelists will address this question by embracing this tension, with presentations based on the premise that we cannot engage in truly competent clinical, organizational, research, or teaching practices, absent a stance based on a social justice approach to power and intersectionality. Conversely, we cannot do effective socially just systems work without careful attention to our technical and ethical responsibilities as practitioners, trainers, and researchers. Speakers will briefly present the frameworks they have developed and used to effect such integrations, placing these frameworks in the context of their own complex, intersectional, and embodied social locations. A brief film clip “case” will illustrate a family or couple in the midst of a relational challenge.  Panelists will offer their thoughts about the “case,” suggesting the lines of inquiry that emerge from their respective frameworks, exploring what we need to know about the family and their lives, and why.  Panelists will then engage in a reflective dialogue about each other’s ideas in this “case,” with a focus on embracing intersectionality in understanding and hypothetically intervening in the clients’ relationship, meaning-making, and circumstances.  The session will end with a brief question-and-answer period. Several concurrent dialogue groups about the plenary will immediately follow.