As mental health professionals, we can all agree that burnout is dangerous for individuals and our profession. We can talk about how it starts – long hours, heavy client loads, slow progress, apathetic community members, ongoing stress, and more, and what it causes – every kind of exhaustion, ineffectiveness due to being overwhelmed, turnover, fear, depression, dissatisfaction, irritability, and more. As professionals, it is our duty to make sure that we stay healthy for our clients so that we can help them when they need us, which means mental health professionals, coaches, and ministry leaders need to think more about solutions, including how people try to meet their needs, the role of resiliency, and some unique approaches to self-care. In this practical workshop, the presenters will help participants evaluate their level of burnout, how burnout is connected to meeting the five core needs of security, identity, belonging, purpose, and competence, and how to utilize God-given traits to turn burnout around and move towards resiliency.
711 | Imprints that Matter: Helping Clients and Caregivers Find Lost Treasure Within Their Redemptive Story
This workshop is meant to inspire, challenge, and encourage ministry leaders and coaches to pursue digging deeper within one’s own redemptive family story for the purpose of leaving their legacy to those they love. Furthermore, this workshop will aid participants in finding unique ways to help clients dig deeper into their genealogical family tree to find more strengths and weaknesses from their extended family legacy and, more importantly, better heal from the brokenness left by generational issues that may still impact the immediate family. With the support of Ancestry.com and other family research applications, the presenter will show attendees how to help clients find an amazing epiphany story using the client’s genealogical family tree, as the presenter has done for himself. The presenter will explain that this story can unlock family secrets, help heal deep wounds within the client and the client’s family, and even possibly discover family members the client never knew existed.
712 | The Promise of “Life Abundant:” The Whole-life Discipleship Framework for the Church to Address Mental Health Challenges
What many researchers identify as a mental health crisis and that the Surgeon General has labeled a “national emergency” is, even now, only very slowly being embraced by a reticent church community. Counselor-supported coaching of pastors, church leaders, and lay caregivers can expedite a much-needed multiplication of “first responders” as mental health challenges are better contextualized into the biblical discipleship mandate with an emphasis on experiential scriptural support. This workshop will explore the challenges, outreach opportunities, and skills for coaching pastors and churches in a more complete and biblical perspective on mental health as critical to human flourishing and the call to make disciples better realized (Mt. 28:19-20).
The Creation Story of Genesis 1-3 presents a biblical anthropology for understanding the relational nature of humankind and certain mental health issues. Adam’s dilemma is based on the “not good” of being alone, in spite of the fact that he had the right relationship with the Creator. The Genesis 2 issue of aloneness and the Genesis 3 issue of fallenness often underlie mental health struggles. Church leaders are sometimes ill-equipped to adequately respond to the mental health issues of congregants because of not appreciating the connection between these essential existential issues. This workshop will formulate a model for therapeutic ministry for congregants suffering from mental health challenges so counselors and ministers, professional and lay, can effectively respond with restorative soul care.
714 | A Faith-based Approach to Exposure Response Prevention and Inhibitory Learning Therapies for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
Oftentimes, faith-based clients are hesitant to engage in standard behavioral therapy for fear their therapist will push them to say or do something which contradicts their beliefs, especially Exposure Response Prevention (ERP) and Inhibitory Learning Model (ILM) since they require clients to expose themselves to their “Goliaths.” Many faith-based clients worry this means pursuing thoughts and feelings that they deem “sinful” and contrary to their beliefs. Research shows positive outcomes are directly related to a client’s willingness to do the therapy work; therefore, it is essential therapists establish a therapeutic trust in the process by customizing their approach and language of the goals and action steps of ERP and ILM to this faith-based population to gain buy-in from clients while being culturally sensitive to their belief system. This workshop will teach licensed mental health professionals and medical professionals the fundamental basics of ERP and ILM and how to use spiritual concepts to frame the goal and action steps of ERP/ILM for willing faith-based clients. Last, the presenter will demonstrate how to customize each client’s ERP/ILM experience, resulting in more buy-in to do the work and better outcomes.
715 | Self and Spiritual Forgiveness: Understanding the Heart of the HEART Model for Treating Trauma
Human trafficking for purposes of prostitution occurs on a global scale, and it affects almost every country in the world. Much of this begins in the family, with fathers, step-fathers, and boyfriends looking to make easy money off their victims. Upon arrival in the promised land, instead of finding the jobs and opportunities they had been led to expect, these victims, mostly women and children, are forced into abusive conditions in a slave-like atmosphere. Physical, emotional, and sexual abuse is the norm for these victims. Once the survivors are freed, the road to recovery is fraught with struggle, pain, and even more wounds. The HEART (Healing Emotional Affective Response to Treatment) Model (Keyes, 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2018) offers a systematic methodology utilizing the existing standards of care and interpreting a faith-based overlay consistent with secular practice. This workshop will focus on the treatment needs of survivors of trafficking-based complex trauma and the specific therapeutic issues psychologists, licensed mental health professionals, and ministry leaders address in treatment. A three-phase treatment model will be explored utilizing the 10-staged HEART model, including an integration of faith. Particular attention will focus on cognitive distortions as they relate to the individual (Ross, 1991) and as they may form within a spiritual context. Both secular and faith-based methodologies will be discussed, compared, and explored from the integration standpoint.
All individuals have desires, which is a good thing as they are essential to life and motivate us to act for things we need. Epithymia, or lust, indicates an obsessive desire overly focused on getting its object. The things of the world (e.g., the lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, pride of life) can lock clients into a system of control, keeping them from achieving their most deeply held desires. In this workshop, the presenter will explain from a biblical perspective that God did not just give our clients desires, but He gave them a will, spirit, or heart, and the appropriate place for desire to be is under a will that is acting for what is good. Furthermore, the Holy Spirit-empowered, surrendered human will can begin to decide what is good outside of, and even in opposition to, the client’s feelings. In this workshop, the presenter will explain the training process to help move willing Christian clients, licensed mental health professionals, and ministry leaders to use spiritual disciplines to become emotionally mature. The mark of an emotionally mature person is being able to do what needs to be done when it needs to be done.
EMDR is an evidence-based practice using bilateral stimulation. It is a neurological process that allows one to remember an incident and let go of the emotions and body sensations that surround the event. In this workshop, psychologists, licensed mental health professionals, and medical professionals will learn that EMDR is based on the Adaptive Information Processing Model and allows one to keep what is helpful about an event and let go of the rest. A neuro-network is made up of the experience with emotions and body sensations. Participants will learn how using bilateral stimulation guides the client through the eight-phase process of EMDR from negative beliefs to positive and adaptive beliefs. This allows the client to return to good mental health. This presentation visually and verbally demonstrates a mental health professional using these strategies and techniques to guide traumatized victims to health.
718 | Complexities and Challenges When Married to Autism: Introduction to Neuro-diverse Christian Couples
In the 1990s, the terms Asperger’s Syndrome (AS) and High Function Autism (HFA) became part of the diagnostic lexicon, yet research and support for adults on the autism spectrum are still lacking. While we no longer use the terms Asperger’s or denote high or low-functioning autism, we have not truly understood the concept of Neurodiversity in the therapeutic or ministry world. With that in mind, this workshop asks licensed mental health professionals and ministry leaders to consider that therapeutic approaches and modalities taught in various schools of training assume both people in marriage counseling are neuro-typical (NT) and possess essential, compatible, or similar communication skillsets. Have clinicians and pastors considered how neurology impacts marital and family counseling or how Theory of Mind and perspective-taking differences may affect a couple’s ability to connect spiritually, relationally, cognitively, and physically? In this workshop, participants are asked to consider that Neurodiverse and Neurotypical people may have different capacities or needs to connect or how each person defines connection. The presenter will help clinicians and pastors learn about autism in marriage, how to identify Neurodiverse marriages, and also the differences and similarities between ASD and personality disorders.
There is hope for children of divorce. Licensed mental health professionals and ministry leaders need to expand their tools for working with divorced co-parents and their children by learning about the five categories of co-parenting, the six risks for kids of divorce, and how to handle the hand-offs between families in emotionally and developmentally appropriate ways for children. The presenters will also help licensed mental health professionals and ministry leaders discover what children of divorce wish they could tell their parents. In this workshop, eight client handouts will be shared, including the “Indicators of Healthy Co-parenting,” created by the presenters, along with a discussion of relevant research on this topic.
Narcissists are well known for their ability to create relational difficulty, especially in long-term relationships (Lavner et al., 2016; Leckelt et al., 2015). Partners of narcissistic individuals frequently present in therapy due to relational turmoil. Licensed mental health professionals must understand the relational dynamics created by this personality style and the unique suffering experienced by their partners (Campbell & Campbell, 2009). This workshop analyzes narcissistic relationship dynamics so licensed mental health professionals can recognize the pattern when clients describe it. When examining narcissism relationally, clinicians need to recognize how narcissistic individuals present socially (Seidman, 2016), their short-term and long-term relational functioning, and the effects of narcissistic admiration and rivalry traits on narcissistic relationships long term (Leunissen et al., 2017; Wurst et al., 2017). This presentation considers the types of partners narcissistic individuals tend to choose and whether these pairings result in happy, successful relationships (Keller et al., 2014; Marsh, 2020). Implications for mental health professionals desiring to offer specific, sensitive help to partners of narcissistic individuals are presented.
Even the most connected and caring family systems often discover themselves stuck within maladaptive patterns of relating, which interfere with their feelings of attunement, safety, and satisfaction in their closest relationships. This workshop will examine how licensed mental health professionals and ministry leaders can identify, reframe, and address problematic engagement patterns contributing to this negative interaction cycle. Participants will receive training in the use of tracking and Socratic questions to support couples and family executives in identifying the patterns of engagement which interfere with a meaningful connection within the family context. Then we will identify ways in which problematic behavioral patterns can be reframed as a systemic problem instead of through an individual problem lens, ways to support all system members in coming alongside one another in problem-solving, and reduce embattlement processes that often occur. The presenter will briefly introduce how mental health professionals and ministry leaders can use enactments to create more beneficial interaction patterns supportive of attachment within the context of couples and family therapeutic work.
Clients come to our offices carrying a variety of burdens. The role of the competent psychologist and licensed mental health professional is to assist them in navigating those issues. In a highly politically charged climate, how do clinicians see political differences in their clients, and how do they respond to those differences in a way that honors diversity, even when it is difficult? In recent years, clinicians have had to lean into politically charged issues like a complex political season, responses to a global pandemic, and civil unrest related to racial injustice. Workshop attendees will learn to engage with their clients’ “politically diverse” views and in productive and therapeutic discussions on politically charged topics.
723 | Understanding and Working with New Migrants, International Settlers, Displaced Populations, War Refugees, and Asylum-seekers
General travels, geo-demographic movements, and the influx of displaced people and war refugees are increasing worldwide. The reason for immigration or resettlement varies considerably—economic hardships, political turmoil, armed conflicts, unfair oppression-intimidation, and ethnic-religious persecution. In this presentation, the presenter will define some key terminologies related to migration and displaced populations, explore the psychology and sociology of immigration, and highlight the impact of the continual exile/influx of people from troubled countries, especially the Middle East and North Africa, toward the Global West. Participants will also revisit the concepts of acculturation, voluntary vs. forced migration, war and refugee trauma, explain who the Arab Americans are, and reconsider the challenges and rewards of intercultural-adjustment and psychosocial adaptation/assimilation. Last, the presenter will conclude with some practical guidelines and recommendations for effective work by psychologists, licensed mental health professionals, and ministry leaders that are timely, relevant, and sensitive for any migrant or minority population.
Are you wondering if traditional counseling or the clinical setting is where you are meant to finish your career? Do you love helping people find freedom and hope but are unsure how to continue doing that outside an agency or private practice? Do you have an entrepreneurial spirit and want to be a business owner? Then consider coaching. This workshop explores the possibilities of combining an entrepreneurial spirit with a masterful knowledge of guiding people to find new hope. We will sift through the vast world of coaching, help you to discover your niche, uncover what available resources and support there are to help you create this shift, and give you the next steps toward owning a coaching/consulting business. Like so many others, you will find how coaching can breathe new life into your spirit and give you back the excitement from the early years as a practitioner.
725 | Strategically Leading: Utilizing Transformational Leadership to Foster Post-traumatic Growth Opportunities and Greater Organizational Success
Pre-pandemic percentages of people who reported suffering the effects of a traumatic event topped nearly 90%. Leaders often experience traumatic events doubly, as well as the personal effects of being traumatized and secondary effects from those they lead. So, is there a path for leaders to move themselves and others from surviving to thriving personally and organizationally? This workshop will present research on pre-pandemic interpersonal reactions with which leaders must contend. The presenter will utilize the four characteristics of transformational leadership to provide a framework for attendees to learn how to create five main “seedbeds” necessary for opportunities for post-traumatic growth and organizational success. This workshop will give attendees tools for personal growth and strategically leading others.
Psychologists, licensed mental health professionals, medical professionals, and ministry leaders serve crucial roles in the mental health of willing children, adolescents, and their families. From the perspective of the “World of the Child,” this session explores a multimodal, multi-disciplinary approach to how counseling, medication, school, family dynamics, and spirituality intersect in the conceptualization and treatment planning for the mental health needs and functioning of Christian youths. For example, clients often leave the medical professional’s office without understanding the prescribed medications. However, mental health professionals who understand medication and its management may enhance the treatment by assisting the client in understanding their medication and communicating with their prescriber. Similarly, issues at home and school require understanding to guide communicative and collaborative intervention. Scenarios from presenters and participants will illustrate collaborative processes in action. This session will add to the participants’ toolkits of interventions and resources to address the needs of their clients.
Very few studies have explored the similarities between ADHD and Neurocognitive Disorders (Dementia). If current research findings show a comorbid connection, the ramifications could alter how participants view these two diagnoses in a therapeutic setting. This presentation will explore the connection between the two diagnoses, data collected from the editors of the DSM-5-TR, pharmaceutical companies that produce medications for ADHD, and scholarly research on the topic. This workshop aims to acquaint psychologists, licensed mental health professionals, medical professionals, and ministry leaders with a subject not widely discussed in counseling literature or seminar presentations. The workshop will focus on five parts: 1) ADHD causation, 2) Neurocognitive causation, 3) Comorbid parallels, 4) Conclusions derived from the study, and 5) A discussion of how the findings can impact the therapeutic counseling process.
618 | Trauma-based Dissociation and Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) Dysregulation in Eating-disordered Populations
Trauma is associated with greater comorbidity in eating-disordered populations. A significant percentage of eating-disordered clients manifest extreme dissociative and personality-disordered symptoms related to sex abuse. These symptoms impede therapeutic gain and lead to high recidivism rates. Eating disorder treatment frequently fails to detect and address complicated hyper/hypoarousal patterns relating to severe unresolved autonomic nervous system (ANS) distress from sexual abuse. This workshop will present guidelines for identifying and resolving dissociative and ANS complications in treating anorexic and bulimic populations suffering from sexual abuse. Trauma-induced personality fragmentation associated with sexual abuse is often overlooked in treating anorexics and bulimics. Classic symptom management frequently obscures sophisticated primary and structural dissociative responses, complicating treatment. Such dissociative responses facilitate the entrenchment of anorexic and bulimic behaviors. A treatment approach will be proposed to emphasize a reduction in ANS distress and personality reintegration. The complex interplay between sexual abuse and survival-based dissociation, autonomic dysregulation, and insecure attachment schema utilized by anorexics and bulimics will be examined.
Resilience is the goal of many clients who desire to thrive amid the circumstances and challenges that keep them stuck; however, psychologists, licensed mental health and medical professionals, and ministry leaders do not often think about their own resilience. The pandemic showed two vulnerabilities in the human services industry—mental health and medical professionals are susceptible to burnout and are essential for the world to continue operating at any level. This presentation will introduce and demonstrate various simple, unsuspecting, innate, invisible, and powerful tools, of which, from a Christian perspective, God has equipped every human to help people be healthy and stay resilient. In this workshop, the presenter will teach whole-person tools that are highly effective in jumpstarting hope and resilience when utilized appropriately, triggering the release of healing hormones and neurotransmitters, and promoting physical, emotional, mental, relational, and spiritual health. This presentation is designed to help human service professionals and ministry leaders stay resilient and effective in their current roles.
620 | Using Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy (AEDP) to Access the Spiritual Core of BIPOC Clients and Facilitate Recovery from Racial Trauma
For licensed mental health professionals, accessing the spiritual core of the self is underutilized in psychotherapeutic practice (Captari et al., 2018). In this workshop, the presenter will present spirituality from a Christian worldview highlighting cultural humility and cultural competence when working with Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) populations (Soto et al., 2018). The presenter will demonstrate how to integrate Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy (AEDP™) techniques to foster the restoration of an embodied experience of the Holy Spirit and spiritual self. AEDP is an empirically supported trauma-informed psychotherapy model with roots in neuroscience, attachment theory, and developmental research (Fosha et al., 2019). By applying AEDP skills and engaging the transformative power of God’s Spirit in connection with the spiritual self, we will demonstrate how to help willing BIPOC individuals transform suffering into flourishing and facilitate recovery from racialized trauma.
The Arenas for Change (ARCH) framework is an intervention method based on and adapted from therapies and theories tested and supported by research, primarily social construction therapeutic approaches including narrative, collaborative, and solution-focused therapies. The framework focuses on the SEEN keystones, namely Sense of Self, Empowering Mindset, Externalized Story, and Natural Flow, each of which is grounded in peer-reviewed literature. The focus of SEEN is to help a licensed mental health professional or coach create a psychologically safe environment to increase treatment success. Applying the framework in an experiential environment incorporating horses provides a living storyboard for the narrative to move from problem stories to preferred stories in addressing treatment goals in a psychologically safe environment. Incorporating horses in the treatment intervention is supported by research displaying the benefits for clients with substance use disorder, veterans with PTSD, adults with trauma and abuse, at-risk youth, young adults, students, and chronic psychiatric inpatients. Healing Strides will be an example of an organization that practices this model in their Equine Assisted Services Mental Health, Education, and Coaching program.
Approximately 70% of mental health professionals have experienced sexual attraction toward a client, and around 3% have had a sexual relationship with a client. Given the nature of counseling, perhaps it is surprising that sexual relationships do not occur even more frequently with licensed mental health professionals, medical professionals, and ministry leaders! Most training programs and continuing education on ethics prohibit sexual relationships with clients but otherwise avoid the topic of sexual attraction. Yet, state licensing boards and liability insurance companies continue to face violations of sexual relationships with clients. Given the prevalence of sexual attraction and the potential damage of sexual relationships to the client, counselor, and profession, the counseling profession should more diligently prepare psychologists and counselors to address sexual attraction in counseling relationships ethically. This workshop will be delivered by experienced licensed counselors who have served on state licensing boards and are counselor educators. The presentation will be based on ethical guidelines, the research conducted in this area, and experience. Participants will be introduced to practical suggestions to reduce the risk of harm when attraction occurs while ensuring effective care is provided.
In 2022, 62.6 million of the U.S. population identified as Latino, and it is expected to climb to 119 million by 2060. Many licensed mental health professionals, medical professionals, and ministry leaders will likely provide services to this population during their professional careers. Working with Latino couples and families can be challenging due to cultural and linguistic barriers. This workshop aims to provide participants with an understanding of the unique challenges Latino couples and families may face, such as differences in values, expectations, and communication styles, and how to address them culturally and linguistically. This workshop will address themes of immigration, acculturation, transgenerational trauma, and family systems when working with Latino families and couples. The presentation will also cover the importance of cultural humility and how to create a welcoming and inclusive environment for this population.
Sleep deprivation has become a significant problem today, with 10-30% of adults struggling with insomnia and poor sleep (Bhaskar et al., 2016). The negative effects of insomnia range from the economic impact (Hafner et al., 2017) to the impact on personal well-being, such as increased depression (Nutt et al., 2008). Many clients who seek help from medical professionals or ministry leaders struggle with sleep, yet sleep is seldom the presenting problem (Barnes et al., 2014). In this workshop, evidence-based research on sleep will be reviewed, and a biblical framework for sleep will be examined. Attendees will apply and receive the “Sleep Better Plan,” a sleep tool they can use in their people-helping roles. They will also gain an overview of existing sleep improvement devices.
Leadership was God’s idea, but leading Christian organizations has become increasingly challenging over the past few years. How did the pandemic change everything? How have the conversations regarding nationalism, sexual abuse, scandals, and generational shifts affected today’s leaders? And more importantly, what will it take to succeed in the near future? What issues will leaders face that might derail or even destroy their organizations? How can AACC leaders succeed in moving forward? In this workshop, ministry leaders will be able to explore some of the recent challenges that Christian leaders face and develop strategies and skills to effectively help others lead Christian organizations.
701 | Intimate Partner Violence and Coercive Control: Assessment and Treatment Using an Embodied Approach
Intimate partner violence (IPV) is consistently defined as any form of physically, sexually, or psychologically abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetuated by one romantic partner against another (NCADV, 2022). Coercive control is additionally defined as the use of nonviolent tactics such as deprivation of money, isolation from friends and family, monitoring time and behavior, restrictions of freedom, and threats to safety or the safety of children to induce fear in the partner to gain power in a relationship (Stark, 2007). Often, these abusive dynamics are stigmatized and misunderstood in the larger systemic culture and, subsequently, opportunities for increased psychoeducation and increased effectiveness in clinical practice remain present. This workshop aims to increase psychologists, licensed mental health professionals, medical professionals, and ministry leaders’ understanding of the embodied experiences of victims and survivors of IPV and coercive control utilizing polyvagal theory as a primary framework. Furthermore, the presentation aims to increase participants’ understanding of the Intimate Partner Violence Recovery Measure (IPVRM), which outlines several key factors of long-term, post-trauma healing and recovery specific to survivors.
The indelible impact of the pandemic can be seen quite visibly in many facets of the mental health world, such as increased anxiety levels, depressive disorders, and even deaths of despair. The deconstruction of the Christian faith in the West became more prominent, and remote work and schooling from home created unforeseen upheaval in the functioning of the family system. In large measure, these variables have quietly contributed to an enormous growth in problematic sexual behavior among believers and non-believers alike. This presentation will examine the dark side of the Web that has grown through the pandemic, explore cross-addiction and escalation in the context of problematic sexual behavior, and introduce participants to a model for overcoming shame with willing Christian clients.
Lament is an ancient practice used throughout Christian history to sustain believers through the darkest of times. However, lament is not often used today, even though people continue to walk through dark times. This workshop will define, compare, and contrast lament with grief. Ministry leaders will explore a brief history of how the practice of lament has been used throughout Christian history and discuss the benefits of this ancient biblical practice for those journeying through suffering. Finally, the presenter will examine the steps of lament, which can be utilized when working with others and applied for personal self-care.
704 | Adolescent Homicidal Threat Assessment: Psychometric Findings From a Newly Developed Instrument
Most psychologists, licensed mental health professionals, and medical professionals receive training and supervision on assessment and intervention for suicidal potential. However, homicidal assessment is frequently unclear and/or often neglected, especially concerning adolescent homicidality leading to mass casualty incidents. To address the need to assess adolescent homicide potential better, an instrument was developed, and psychometric properties were established to provide a risk assessment screening and an intervention process whereby homicidal potential is significantly reduced. The overall findings of the data on the threat and protective variables from mental health providers and school counselors will be examined, along with a presentation and analysis of the instrument’s reliability and validity data. Finally, there will be an examination of the impact of the instrument as it relates to uses and limitations in clinical and educational settings.
705 | Toward Mutual Safety: Application of the Emotionally Safe Relationship Model™ with Christian Couples
The Emotionally Safe Relationship Model™ reminds clients that they are individuals before becoming a couple. Taking responsibility and ownership while creating safe relational moments provides a solid foundation for genuine hopefulness and lasting, intimate connection. Making emotional safety tangible with practical questions and self-reflections to help individuals and couples assess safety. In this workshop, licensed mental health professionals and ministry leaders will be able to guide clients to provide their partners a safe emotional presence to achieve spiritual and emotional intimacy and be able to lead their Christian clients to engage in a sense of humility and grace as they discover how God’s perfect integrative design for the mind, heart, and body can be honored in themselves and others. Licensed mental health professionals and ministry leaders can guide willing clients to appreciate and accept their partners as they build mutual safety and a shared sense of trust and intimacy.
706 | Going Beyond “The Talk:” Training Pastors, Counselors and Parents on Age-appropriate Conversations about Sexuality and Gender From a Biblical Worldview
A problem facing our world today is the bombardment of beliefs about love, sex, gender, and identity that truly needs Christians to vocally and persistently speak the Truth in Love. Unfortunately, this may prove to be difficult, especially for youth to hear and understand. In this workshop, licensed mental health professionals, medical professionals, and ministry leaders will gain tools and skills to help parents and young Christian clients have a biblical worldview on gender and sexuality by starting with a biblical foundation and developing age-appropriate conversations. Participants will learn how to teach willing parents the tools to navigate these micro-conversations and give young people good answers and healthy, age-appropriate understandings about gender and sexuality. This workshop will help clinicians, medical personnel, and ministry leaders have tools and strategies to teach parents how to have “The Talk” when children are ready.
707 | Repairing the Marriage Bond: An Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy Approach Following Infidelity
Genesis provides an account of God’s creation of joining a man and a woman in covenantal marriage. This description established a sense of belonging, well-being, and safety for the man and woman through a unifying, secure attachment. While a biblical worldview defines the marriage union as sacred, eternal, and picturesque of Christ’s commitment to His Bride, infidelity shatters it. This traumatic blow to one’s perceived secure attachment often leaves both the offending and non-offending partners dealing with traumatic reactions, including depression, anxiety, hypervigilance, loneliness, shame, and despair. Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (EFCT) is an empirically-based treatment that has demonstrated positive outcomes in repairing attachment injury. This presentation will discuss the efficacy of utilizing EFCT as a spiritually integrated psychotherapy treatment for willing Christian couples recovering from infidelity. It will analyze the three stages of EFCT through a biblical lens, describe integrated interventions that are value-driven and structured for working with Christian couples who believe in this biblical worldview, and provide an attachment repair model for a therapist to be both clinically sound and spiritually attentive in recovery work with Christian couples.
Mental health crises are increasing, and couples are suffering and seeking help now more than ever. With the presenter’s more than 15 years of clinical experience, she has discovered a reoccurring theme in clinical practice—the counseling they have received has been damaging. This has included harmful and ill-advised Christian counsel to treat mental health issues related to couples and marriage, such as trauma, divorce, personality disorders, emotional and religious abuse, and mental illness. Complex psychological cases require necessary clinical training and professional education of the brain, the nervous system, and the attachment system so a couple is not disadvantaged. Using examples based on real-life clients, licensed mental health professionals and ministry leaders will learn when counsel can cause undue suffering for couples under their care and how the clinician or ministry leader’s own beliefs, defenses, and projections stall and even hurt the counseling process. It is essential that the Christian community, helping professions, and counseling fields gain the tools and expertise necessary to provide relationship recovery, lasting healing, and restoration of marriages.
Loneliness contributes to heart disease, higher mortality rates, obesity, and lack of sleep. It has also been shown to have significant deleterious effects on mood, including increased rates of substance use disorder, depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation. However, the causes of loneliness require further research and better understanding by psychologists, licensed mental health professionals, medical professionals, and ministry leaders. Three converging methods (concept mapping, quantitative, and qualitative analyses) were employed to develop and validate a first-of-its-kind tool to assess causal factors in loneliness to provide clear intervention opportunities, especially as adjuncts to mental health services. Participants will learn about the current trends regarding loneliness across the lifespan, contributing factors to loneliness, and instructions on utilizing the new tool (the Social Connectedness Instrument). As spiritual and social beings, patterns of social connections (face-to-face and digital) should be considered in the context of holistic care.
Young men are often overwhelmed and discouraged when temptation toward pornography becomes compulsive or addictive. It can quickly move beyond normal curiosity into a persistent problem that requires intervention. As shame over the issue grows, the problem tends to escalate. In this workshop, psychologists and licensed mental health professionals will review core aspects of program development for young men with compulsive pornography problems. The presenter will discuss developmental considerations and recovery concepts for adolescents and young adults. Furthermore, developing a “team” network with parents, mentors, church leaders, and family members will also be examined. With a proper foundation in recovery, a young man’s hope can be restored, and spiritual crises avoided. Implications for treatment planning will be outlined, including recovery concepts congruent with biblical teaching for Christian clients.
521 | Healing the Inner Children: Using E.M.B.R.A.C.E. Parenting Strategies Within the Internal Family Systems Framework
Many people recognize that relationships are impacted by how a person was parented. What an individual received and did not receive from their parents affects their most important relationships: client relationships, family relationships, intimate relationships, co-working relationships, or church fellowships. Licensed mental health professionals in psychotherapy circles discuss “parenting the inner child” to bring healing. The question is, which inner child? Many clients come in with more than one wounded part that comes into play in their relationships. How can participants help Christian clients navigate in a Christ-centered, Spirit-led way that does not bring shame of “what should be” but can grow in “what is” in the present? This workshop will explore a new Christian (biblically supported) version of the cutting-edge, evidence-based Internal Family Systems (IFS) modality that brings healing to many. Participants will learn how to use the IFS language of parts with their clients. They will be able to practice techniques from the EMBRACE model and describe how this model can be effective with a Christian client.
Legal and ethical practice is critical to appropriate client care for the Christian psychologist, licensed mental health professional, and medical professional. As complaints against mental health providers increase, participants must be aware of the behaviors and issues most likely to prompt a complaint or lawsuit. Additionally, clinicians must be equipped to respond in wisdom should allegations of malpractice arise. In this workshop, participants will be prepared to analyze their practice for potential vulnerabilities, be introduced to effective strategies to prevent ethical lapses, and respond professionally to complaints.
523 | Understanding Universal Human Needs in Therapy: Building Confidence in Multi-cultural and Cross-cultural Contexts
A therapist can confidently practice effective counseling and other therapies in multicultural and cross-cultural contexts. A solid understanding of universal human needs and how they are expressed in various cultures allows the psychologist, licensed mental health professional, medical professional, and ministry leader to impart hope to any client. Even when the client is from a very different culture, in which human needs are understood and described differently, addressing these universal human needs is the key to imparting hope and helping the client to resolve issues and solve problems. The client can coach the therapist about their own culturally appropriate ways of meeting needs. Identifying with the client and building rapport is based on connection with their universal, shared human needs. Finding interventions appropriate in the client’s context becomes a partnership between therapist and client. The client experiences hope through shared understanding, rapport, and being able to apply interventions in their own culturally relevant ways.
524 | Strategies to Grow Your Coaching Practice: Developing Successful Online Group Programs, Courses, and Memberships
With all the technology and software available today, expanding a coaching practice has never been easier. Online courses, group coaching programs, and memberships are the easiest way to reach more clients and boost your influence. With affordable online platforms and user-friendly software, creating engaging curricula and video content no longer needs a professional developer. Plus, your clients will appreciate the opportunity to receive care from the convenience of their own living rooms or offices. This presentation will examine how coaches can develop dynamic online group coaching programs, courses, and memberships. Through the creation of audio and video content, as well as relevant handouts and worksheets, participants will explore effective strategies to market their programs to increase the profitability of their practices and attract clients from all around the world.
525 | Coaching Business Leaders in Attachment Response Training: A Pathway to Transformational Leadership
Researchers have started applying attachment theory, commonly used in counseling, to the workplace in employee relations literature. Attachment style predicts workplace dynamics, such as leader-follower relationships (LMX), trustworthiness perceptions, organizational commitment, proactive behavior, responses to organizational change, and attachment to workplaces. In an era of instability, attachment theory provides tools for leaders to increase performance and decrease turnover. Further, leaders can provide resources that specifically address attachment styles, as employees with secure attachment styles demonstrate greater organizational involvement, higher performance, and lower turnover. Coaches play an integral role in training Christian leaders to apply interventions that promote secure attachments, reflecting God as the ideal attachment figure and demonstrating transformational leadership. Attachment Response Training provides tools drawn from attachment-based counseling theories, such as Trust-Based Relational Intervention and Emotionally Focused Therapy, to equip business leaders with simple strategies for promoting secure attachment in the workplace. These relational strategies reflect the value of LMX and transformational leadership, promoting efficacy and relational ethics in the workplace.
Spiritual abuse is a popular topic in books, blogs, and social media. Yet, there is a paucity of academic research on the topic. There is no agreed-upon definition, and few resources exist to determine whether an individual has experienced spiritual abuse. This presentation is intended for licensed mental health professionals to explore research on recognizing and assessing spiritual abuse in their clinical practice. Pastors and other non-licensed professionals may also benefit from learning how to recognize spiritual abuse. Participants will review a brief history of the term “spiritual abuse,” examine how the term has been defined by researchers, and explore common themes experienced by spiritual abuse survivors. Also, participants will be introduced to the existing research on evaluating spiritual abuse through an assessment and clinical interview. The Spiritual Abuse Assessment, developed by the presenter, will be introduced and explained. It may be used to assess for spiritual abuse in any setting or relationship and is not limited to Christian backgrounds.
602 | How Did I Get Here?: Complexities of Moral Injury, PTSD, and Substance Abuse from a Combat Veteran’s Perspective
The Mission of the PTSD Foundation of America is to bring hope and healing to combat Veterans and their families suffering from the effects of combat-related post-traumatic stress. In this workshop, licensed mental health professionals and ministry leaders will evaluate a whole-person approach, offering an evidence-based, interdisciplinary team approach, including peer-to-peer mentoring, both individually and in a group setting, clinical behavioral health, and chaplaincy. In addition, this workshop will look at free programs and services for veterans and their families so that the focus remains on their journey to healing. The presenters will explain the importance of taking a collaborative approach to raise awareness of the increasing needs of the military community by working with government agencies, service organizations, churches, and private-sector businesses to combine resources.
Numerous necessary decisions regarding aging, illness, and end-of-life issues must be addressed. Still, many people evade the topic entirely, while others simply do not have the tools or knowledge to plan effectively. This leaves families and loved ones with the weight of making decisions that are literally life and death and opens the door to regret, guilt, and conflict. Licensed mental health professionals, medical professionals, and ministry leaders can play a vital role in facilitating these critical conversations and decision-making. This session will walk participants through necessary discussions regarding legal decisions, healthcare plans, relationships, the celebration of life planning, and leaving their stories as their legacy. This session will also provide participants with actionable mediation techniques to facilitate those conversations between clients and loved ones. As an exercise, participants will be asked to consider their own desires for ending life well and leaving their legacy.
Sadly, 7,000-30,000 children in the U.S. lose a parent to suicide yearly (Watson et al., 2021). This statistic does not account for other suicide losses a child may endure. Surviving family members often avoid discussing suicide with children due to stigma and/or fear of saying the wrong thing. A failure to discuss suicide loss with a child can lead the child to form their own beliefs surrounding the loved one’s death that can be more detrimental to the child’s well-being than the truth could ever be. This workshop is intended to help psychologists, licensed mental health professionals, medical professionals, and ministry leaders learn how to assist surviving family members in creating a narrative to discuss suicide loss with children and provide a list of resources to help families process suicidal grief.
Couples seeking restoration in sexual intimacy in marriages damaged by sexual addiction, infidelity, or betrayal want to know and follow the right path and timing for healing. This presentation will introduce “The Intimacy Pyramid” model, which licensed mental health professionals can utilize as a guide for navigating couples seeking to restore healthy connections expressed through sexual intimacy. This model utilizes the strategic components: Honesty, Safety, Trust, Vulnerability, and Intimacy. Each phase offers practical steps for support professionals to balance both individual work and relational restoration. This approach appropriately values the trauma experience of the betrayed partner. It locates the healing for both individuals within the relationship, facilitating greater relational outcomes for couples who want to restore. This workshop will include how each phase of restoring intimacy is properly addressed in a post-betrayal relationship and how to use the appropriate interventions to build long-term healthy sexual engagement in couples.
Cross-cultural psychology plays a vital role in understanding behavior throughout the world’s cultures. While much of psychology research remains primarily Western and Eurocentric, there is a stronger awareness of the importance of representation and diversity in the research process. In this workshop, licensed professional counselors and ministry leaders will learn about the latest research in diversity and in what direction it guides our field. Some of the aspects that will be discussed will be understanding how child-rearing practices in different cultures impact the development of clients, as well as teachers, educators, and curriculum designers who create multicultural sex education lessons and materials. This workshop will explore how cultural differences impact social behavior and individual personality and how they relate to sexuality. The presenters will also discuss some of the most common “silent objections” faced in the office, such as a professional’s experience working with minorities, civil/marital status, how to address both partners, and the purpose of sex. While all these things are relevant when working with Anglo clients, they hold a higher priority and more profound meaning in some ethnic groups.
Since 2010, the number of parents divorcing after 25, 35, or 45+ years has doubled and is expected to triple by 2030. Adult children of such parents are often presumed to have resilience. Sadly, parental divorce (Gray Divorce) is a significant stressor to adult children due to the increased needs and demands of aging parents, new and ongoing changes in family dynamics, and a corresponding lack of emotional support to handle the changes. As a result, emotional, spiritual, social, and attachment disruptions are missed or ignored in this population. This workshop will equip licensed mental health professionals and ministry leaders to identify and communicate the similarities and differences between parental divorce experienced in childhood versus parental divorce experienced during adulthood. Attendees will also be equipped to identify adult clients’ trauma-related impact from their parents’ gray divorce, convey informed empathy, and provide psychological and spiritual help to assist with the initial and life-long changes Christian clients may experience.
Studies have consistently demonstrated comorbidity between unresolved interpersonal conflict and various mental health concerns, such as depression, anxiety, self-esteem, suicidality, substance use, family stability, workplace performance, and overall well-being. However, psychologists, licensed mental health professionals, medical professionals, and ministry leaders are often not equipped with evidence-based strategies to help individual clients effectively manage the distress of significant conflicts. This workshop will contrast exogenous and endogenous theories of conflict psychology and review evidence of comorbid disorders. The presenter will discuss research-based strategies that help clients resolve conflicts and forgive offenses, then demonstrate how these techniques correspond with a simple, practical model of biblical conflict resolution called Peace Pursuit. Using a case study, participants will practice a reframing technique from the model. As a group, participants will describe scenarios when they could effectively utilize techniques in this model with willing Christian clients and then appraise its overall potential to help strengthen clients’ internal locus of control and a general sense of peace and stability by promoting Christ as the foundation of their identity and well-being. The implications of using the model with willing non-Christian clients will be discussed.
Since the onset of COVID-19, pandemic-related stressors have emerged and impacted multiple life areas, including work and school (Costa-Cordella et al., 2022; Ting, 2022). These stressors have also affected intimate relationships (Stanley & Markman, 2020), potentially leading to increased conflict and decreased effective communication (Chamberland, 2021). Previous studies have noted that attachment styles affect behavioral patterns and coping strategies during times of conflict (Beck et al., 2013), showing that securely attached romantic partners can “buffer” insecurely attached partners during times of emotional and behavioral distress, thus improving relationship quality (Overall et al., 2013; Simpson & Overall, 2014). Recent studies examined how attachment styles impacted intimate partner relationships and conflict during COVID-19 (Costa-Cordella et al., 2022; Stanley & Markman, 2020; Ting, 2022). This presentation will help psychologists, licensed mental health professionals, and ministry leaders examine how attachment patterns may present in romantic relationships and common coping strategies used by secure and insecure romantic partners during relationship stress. Further, the presentation will discuss research on attachment styles and coping strategies during the COVID-19 pandemic, including factors impacting intimate relationships.
According to university counseling centers, anxiety is the most common presenting problem among emerging adult college students, with 60.8% presenting anxiety (AUCCCD Annual Survey, 2021). Self-compassion interventions are known to be effective at reducing anxiety in emerging adulthood (Dundas et al., 2017). Current self-compassion interventions are self-focused (Neff, 2003), but a shift in self-compassion to Christ-modeled self-compassion is appropriate for Christians as Jesus modeled kindness, common humanity, and contemplative responses to suffering, which are basic features of self-compassion. Shifting the focus of self-compassion from a self-serving one to a Christ-modeled one may still produce decreases in anxiety while changing the telos of the intervention from simply reducing anxiety to improving functioning for healthier living and relationships by following Christ’s example of humanity (Mitchell, 2003). This workshop will help psychologists, licensed mental health professionals, medical professionals, and ministry leaders have an introduction to a Christ-modeled self-compassion intervention and report on its efficacy on emerging adult anxiety and grit (Duckworth et al., 2007) based on a current study that concluded in April 2023.
611 | Manifestations of the Supernatural in Session: Discernment and Resources for Assessment and Treatment
Sometimes things happen in a counseling session that cannot be explained in a secular manner. At these times, there is often a powerful sense that what is occurring is not of this world. In this workshop, participants will learn to identify when the supernatural has entered the counseling session. Assessment tools will be discussed and utilized in case examples. The presenters will provide participants with insight into the spiritual forces of evil that attempt to influence patients through agreement with lies. It will consider the 14 root spirits mentioned in the Bible and the remedy to be liberated from their influence based on biblical principles coupled with empirically-based techniques. Presenters will also discuss how clients can open themselves up to spiritual forces and prevent such influences on their lives.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, licensed mental health professionals and ministry leaders realized the general population is truly UN-Grounded. The world witnessed levels of fear and paranoia never seen before, with mental health professionals’ schedules booked and waitlists growing. People are losing themselves in the “O” zone of Others, Outcomes, and Old Stuff. Grounding skills are missing in the lives of many Christian clients. In this workshop, participants will learn to share the Gospel (good news) of grounding as a missional opportunity to connect willing Christian clients to the precious present and Jesus—the Way, the Truth, and the Life. “Grounding” is a mental health curriculum (used successfully for over a decade) encouraging people toward prayer and empowering them with effective mental health skills cultivated in a loving relationship with God. The presenter will provide an overview of grounding from a biblical perspective, which encourages participants to help clients engage in a loving relationship with their Maker, supports them to discover and use boundaries, CBT, DBT, ACT, and other best practice skills successfully in their day-to-day lives, and teaches them how to breathe, belong, and give thanks in all circumstances.
Abortion can be a traumatic experience leading to significant distortions of how men and women view themselves, others, and God. Pastors, pastoral counselors, and lay counselors can play an active role in leading and guiding the post-abortion person in reconstructing a positive personal narrative and transforming broken lives. Through accessing and analyzing deficiencies in clients’ biblical doctrine and formative prayer, they can rebuild their Gospel identities and find purpose and meaning in life. Furthermore, identifying three unique subsets of abortion harm in men will be recognized, and a specific plan to restore biblical masculinity will be addressed. Finally, through live testimony and observation, this session will assess abortion as morally injurious, a traumatic loss, and a prolonged grief disorder.
Sexual assault is a pervasive and traumatic experience that affects over half of the female population and at least one-third of the male population at some point in their lives (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2022). Often, regardless of the period in which this trauma occurs, survivors’ mental and physical health is negatively affected (MacGinley et al., 2019; Carey et al., 2018; Norris et al., 2019). Faith can be a protective factor leading to positive processing, coping flexibility, and recovery among survivors of sexual assault (Bryant-Davis et al., 2012; Ginesini, 2018; Hassija et al., 2016). Faith and spirituality are foundational pillars for finding meaning and hope in traumatic experiences (Barnes & Moodley, 2022; Richardson et al., 2022; Zelligman et al., 2020), especially when these beliefs are integrated with meaning-based counseling theory and practice. Therefore, it seems necessary to explore clients’ faith through counseling. This presentation will synthesize current research from three prominent theoretical approaches (Narrative Therapy, Logotherapy, and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy), provide support for Christian integration within these, and propose helpful, evidence-based interventions for licensed mental health professionals and ministry leaders to utilize with this population.
Using the data collected over 10 years from The Samaritan Women, an anti-human trafficking organization, this session offers a victim-centered way of looking at the trauma of domestic sex trafficking. Through statistics, case studies, and anecdotal analysis, this workshop helps licensed mental health professionals, medical professionals, and ministry leaders to understand what renders an individual vulnerable to sexual exploitation, what traumas are most common in domestic sex trafficking, and what challenges the survivor faces in social re-entry.
Human sex trafficking is currently at epidemic proportions. This illegal activity touches all nations and has long-lasting consequences for survivors, all those involved, and society. Traffickers exploit both genders, all ethnicities, the aged and young, and the educated and unschooled. The effects of trafficking on the victim are numerous and profound. Yet, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the vast majority of sex trafficking victims in the U.S. are adolescent females. In this workshop, psychologists, licensed mental health professionals, medical professionals, and ministry leaders will learn how the sex industry exploits the normal development of children and adolescents to traffic them, specifically how traffickers work to manipulate the worldviews and identities of their victims. Participants will examine how exposure to chronic victimization increases the risk of physical and psychological difficulties, even creating symptoms from impaired cognitive functioning to complex trauma and dissociative identity disorders. This workshop provides a detailed understanding for participants of the abuse most survivors experience, how to assess these experiences, the resulting diagnoses, and specific treatment interventions to heal the wounds of trafficking.
A hidden cycle traps Christian men and women in a repetitive course of porn use and private confession. The answers most ministry leaders offer fail to free the ensnared. It is not enough to say the local church has a hidden porn problem. Church leaders deserve a primer on how people become trapped, why they often stay stuck alone, and how the Church can help people come out of hiding and find lasting healing and freedom. This workshop will explore how pornography impacts the lives of people and the spiritual health of local congregations. The presenters help ministry leaders discover how to create safe spaces and use safe processes to help those trapped in compulsive behaviors with pornography. Successful examples will be outlined from local churches doing this hard work well. Attendees will receive a free copy of the new book, The Healing Church: What Churches Get Wrong about Pornography and How to Fix It.
503 | Growth After Loss: A Positive and Empowering Model to Facilitate Healing and Resilience in Treatment
Loss frequently catapults individuals into a negative space. In this workshop, licensed mental health professionals and ministry leaders will learn to utilize Switch Theory to empower clients to move toward a positive space using therapeutic activities. These resources will help clinicians empathize with their clients’ challenges and equip them to thrive. Unwanted titles, unmet expectations, and mental stability will be addressed as a part of this presentation.
504 | Dialectical Behavioral Therapy to Treat Adolescents with Suicidal Ideation and Non-suicidal Self Injury
This presentation aims to educate licensed mental health professionals on how Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) can be utilized to treat suicidal ideation and non-suicidal self-injury in adolescents. Current research findings on the use of DBT in treating suicidal and non-suicidal self-injury in teens, as well as research limitations, will be presented. Participants will learn the biosocial theory that drives the methodology of treatment and the core components of DBT. The presenter will explain the difference between DBT-informed care and fully adherent DBT treatment. Furthermore, participants will learn how to create and use a diary card and conduct a chain analysis. Participants will gain an understanding of how phone coaching operates and how it can be effective in reducing suicidal gestures and non-suicidal behavior. The presentation will conclude with additional resources for ongoing education and training to assist therapists in further developing their skills to implement DBT into practice.
When it comes to sexual intimacy, unexpected factors often get in the way of a healthy and fulfilling marital sex life. Many of those factors have to do with things outside of the act of sex. Licensed mental health practitioners and ministry leaders must thoroughly understand the aspects of a couple’s relationship and their upbringing that may inhibit a fulfilling sex life. These aspects include a couple’s emotional intimacy and communication, their individual sexual expectations, as well as any underlying mental or physical health issues. This workshop will address these three components to help couples find a breakthrough and pursue a healthy and fulfilling sex life.
506 | Hope for Clients with Unwanted Same-sex Attraction and Gender Dysphoria: Examining Scripture and Science
Often, clients who experience unwanted same-sex attraction or gender dysphoria feel hopeless about their struggles. Some are bombarded with the culture’s lies—“born gay, can’t change; it’s harmful to try to change; gay is good; dissent is bad; gender is inconsequential.” Even some Christian clients find themselves thinking they have few options. However, these clients do have options and reasons for hope. Both Scripture and science provide insight into these struggles and a path forward that ministry leaders can lead people through. In this workshop, each cultural myth will be examined through the lenses of Scripture and science, and participants will see that good science is always consistent with Scripture. In addition, the presenter will explain some of the possible factors that put a child at risk for developing same-sex attraction or gender dysphoria. Likewise, some of the potential underlying therapeutic issues will be presented. Participants will be taught a foundational understanding of these important issues to relate more effectively and provide accurate information to their clients.
Few theories of marriage counseling have been accepted at the level that “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse” has enjoyed since Dr. Gottman published his findings in the 1980s. The four horsemen—Criticism, Contempt, Defensiveness, and Stonewalling—carry a collective detriment, but each indicates a particular danger to the long-term health of a marital relationship. For example, Contempt threatens to destroy a relationship when one spouse morally elevates themselves above the other. When trauma exists in a marriage (complex or acute), marital roles can be complicated by the traumatized individual’s need to claim a stable identity. This need may come at the expense of the marriage itself via a posture of Contempt. Licensed mental health professionals and ministry leaders face the challenge of assisting marriages in developing the skills necessary to avoid Contempt, even as the couple carries the burden of a traumatic experience. This workshop will discuss the importance of reality-based living and therapeutic strategies that directly address the specific needs of a dual-trauma marriage.
Ministry can be hazardous, especially for marriages. There is a unique subset of issues that put ministry marriages at risk. Licensed mental health professionals and ministry leaders need to be equipped to recognize and address these risk factors. In order to best do this, participants in this workshop will learn what is unique to this population and how the ministry context impacts their client’s relationships. This workshop will focus on the pastor’s and spouse’s unique experiences, such as being able to assess for risk factors that may affect the marriage and the high possibility of their relationship being impacted by ministry. Participants will gain knowledge of experiential techniques that apply to this population.
509 | Grandparents as Generational Reconcilers: Tools and Resources to Engage in Generational Family Relationships
Research has noted that with extended life expectancies, individuals will live as a grandparent during 32% of an adult’s life span. In addition, for approximately 13% of an adult’s life span, individuals will live as great-grandparents. Coupled with the unexpected number of grandchildren under the age of 18 (7.5 million) living full-time with their grandparent(s), the need for reconciling skills and understanding trauma-informed care is mushrooming. This workshop will outline the burgeoning field of grandparenting support and therapy for licensed professional counselors and ministry leaders since grandparents are emerging as generational reconcilers. Grandparents, including custodial grandparents, seek proven pathways to leave a positive legacy and provide the much-needed support for their grandchildren to thrive. Reviewing data collected from more than 1,000 grandparents and 800 grown adults who were highly influenced by their grandparents, this workshop will focus on proven and practical interventions to help grandparents flourish.
510 | From Fear to Connection: A Toolkit for Overcoming Trauma and Insecure Attachment with Adolescents and Adults
New research on the brain reveals hope for clients derailed by past trauma and attachment wounds. From the alarming rise in adolescent suicide to the current overwhelming number of people seeking mental health services, there is a critical need for psychologists and licensed mental health professionals to become sufficiently trained in these neurobiological approaches. Ministry leaders and medical professionals must also be aware of these approaches to help patients and members get to the right mental health professional. Traumatic histories are common with clients and cause symptoms such as social anxiety, interpersonal avoidance, and chronic depression (Knight & Sibcy, 2017). This workshop will explore common autonomic nervous system responses to perceived threats. Seven essential strategies competent clinicians can use to recalibrate overactive defenses will be revealed. Forming a strong therapeutic alliance with clients lacking secure attachment bonds proves to be one of the most challenging tasks clinicians experience in therapy. However, key interventions related to emotional intelligence (EI), regulation, and interpersonal skills can make this challenge possible and enhance attachment security. This workshop will include a toolkit to facilitate client safety and stabilization and move clients from reactive to intentional behaviors (Clabough, 2019; Krupnik, 2019; Siegel, 2015). Last, biblical principles and research-based techniques related to developing interpersonal skills will serve as a blueprint for Christian clients’ journey from fear to transformative connection. Strategies for both virtual and in-person counseling sessions with adolescents and adults will be included in the toolkit.
511 | Bondage Breaker: Identifying Spiritual Warfare’s Effect on the Christian’s Worldview and Mental Health
In the Christian worldview, only by divine revelation can believers in Christ understand the reality and coexistence of the natural world and the unseen spiritual realm that surrounds them. Both realities impact mental and emotional health. Ministry leaders and coaches will be more effective with a biblical worldview. In this workshop, participants will learn how a holistic methodology should include God in the process and enable pastors and coaches to help clients discern between good and evil. This workshop aims to provide a holistic and biblical worldview that enables Christian caregivers to set captives free and heal their wounds.
The core distressing emotions of anger, shame, anxiety, and sadness can disrupt relationships, work, and faith for many people. This workshop is for a coach, spiritual director, pastor, pastoral counselor, or lay counselor to learn how to use the Enneagram as a coaching tool to help Christian clients identity their type’s maladaptive schema that is shaped by anger, shame, anxiety, and/or sadness. A path is charted for each type to overcome its self-defeating personality pattern and grow in emotional health through coaching that fosters self-awareness, empathy, and relying on Jesus as the perfect expression of their type. Different Scriptures and spiritual disciplines are recommended for each type to learn to trust in God’s compassion for self and others. This model for emotional health coaching and Christian spiritual formation has been field-tested with clients in coaching and spiritual direction and students earning a certificate in coaching and/or spiritual direction.
There is a movement to create trauma-informed care in organizations so that traumatized children, adults, and families feel safe and understood. The experience of trauma has a widespread impact on the lives of those we serve, including mental disorders and physical health conditions. It is time to apply the current well-established trauma-informed care protocols to churches and Christian ministries within the Christian framework of loving and caring for hurting people. This workshop is designed to inform, inspire and equip licensed mental health professionals, ministry leaders, and pastors to create trauma-informed care communities for their clients and members. Information will be presented about trauma, its effects on individuals and communities, current best practices for trauma recovery, the impact of caring for the traumatized on caregivers, and the key standard ingredients for creating trauma-informed care in an organization. The presentation will be rich with resources and suggestions for assessing an organization’s current trauma-informed care status and identifying and implementing staff changes, the environment, service models, and policies.
514 | Navigating the Grief: Building Resilience in Caretakers through Culturally Sensitive Counseling Strategies
This presentation is for licensed mental health professionals and ministry leaders helping caretakers navigate the ins and outs of managing either anticipatory or current grief due to the loss of loved ones while simultaneously facing the challenges of supporting and caretaking other loved ones who have been left behind. Attention will be given to the diversity of cultural variance in responses to death and best practices for addressing caretaker losses within the boundaries of cultural sensitivities. Emphasis will also be placed on how clinicians may counsel and support caretakers in moving toward resiliency behaviors while grieving their own loss.
A key to growth and hope in treatment is addressing traumatic memory, as these emotional memories are typically the result of more profound violations of identity and safety. The resulting pain and confusion over “who I am” (identity) and “how I am” (safety) can persist throughout life unless appropriately addressed. Deep emotional work, such as that experienced in imagery and interpersonal exchanges, can produce reconsolidation of emotional memory. Restoration Therapy includes this type of work that can integrate new emotional memory into individuals and relationships, thereby introducing peace and “settledness” at a foundational level. In this workshop, psychologists, licensed mental health professionals, and medical professionals will be given descriptions of the three primary experiential techniques Restoration Therapy uses to address emotional memories in a clinical context. Included in these descriptions will be a discussion of how the presence of trauma should limit the types and depth of experiential techniques used. Case examples will also be presented, and a group experience of one of the three experiential techniques will be demonstrated.
The Immanuel Approach helps licensed mental health professionals and ministry leaders apply several simple brain science principles to help their willing Christian clients establish an interactive, contingent connection with the living, tangible presence of Jesus and then coaches the client to engage directly with Jesus as the primary therapist. Interestingly, Jesus routinely facilitates complete memory-reconsolidation resolution of traumatic memories. This workshop will summarize the theoretical foundation for the Immanuel Approach, describe the process for basic Immanuel Approach work, discuss several aspects of the Immanuel Approach that are new and unique, and then present case studies that illustrate the effectiveness of the Immanuel Approach. The case study presentation will include video from an actual session in which the client experiences Jesus facilitating therapeutic memory reconsolidation.
In the U.S., an estimated 2.5 million people suffer a traumatic brain injury each year. This population translates to approximately one in 300 families dealing with a life-changing disability. This workshop will address the specific mental health needs of those affected by brain injury. Specific counseling techniques and coping and adaptive strategies will be offered to address the identified issues. The workshop will focus on therapeutic techniques for depression, anxiety, anger, post-traumatic stress, and grief from the perspectives of survivors and family members for willing faith-based clients. A faith-based counseling perspective is a nuance that offers the therapist a unique and effective way of managing the challenging issues of brain injury, especially the existential and spiritual aspects of understanding the devastating diagnosis and creating a purpose post-injury. Techniques such as psychoeducation, affect management, spiritual application, behavioral management, reduction of symptoms, and discovering God’s purpose after brain injury are outlined for licensed mental health professionals, medical professionals, and ministry leaders.
518 | Restoring Self-cohesion: An Innovative Approach to Reduce Personality Disorder Features that are Rooted in Trauma
Personality disorders and chronic mood disorders are often the results of early attachment wounds and various traumas impacting the brain and neurochemistry. Restoring-Self-Cohesion (RSC) is the Christian integrative psychodynamic approach designed to help the clinician identify and resolve the root dynamics perpetuating the symptoms and progressively take the willing client through a process of restoring alignment to the Christian client’s internal world. This enables the client to dismantle strongholds, mindsets, behavior dynamics, and soul issues producing personality features and unremitting mood symptoms. The goal is to help clients resolve the original trauma, reduce personality disorder and chronic mood symptoms, and learn how to live from their spirit-person/true-self again. Many trauma survivors describe dissociating, cyclical relationship patterns, and perpetually feeling anxious, insecure, unsupported, disrespected, and abandoned. Psychologists, licensed mental health providers, and medical professionals want their clients to reduce the negative symptoms and regain the vibrancy and joy that comes from living from the Spirit. The most frequent feedback from clients is that they feel like themselves again.
Psychologists, licensed mental health professionals, medical professionals, and ministry leaders are uniquely positioned to support at-risk youth by building their resilience to overcome significant and often overwhelming life circumstances. The Search Institute’s 40-plus years of research has yielded critically important and relevant findings on developmental assets. This data and these tools provide clinicians with a valuable means to view their approach through a resiliency lens and with research-supported interventions to enhance client resiliency. The presentation will outline this holistic model designed to enhance client awareness of their internal and external resiliency factors. Specific and multi-faceted strategies to use strengths and bolster growth areas will be described. Participants will also have time and opportunity to share their approach to enhancing client resiliency. Spiritual resiliency factors will be highlighted for willing Christian clients, providing participants with a research-supported model to help youth become more aware of the many benefits offered by biblical, religious, and spiritual assets.
“I know Jesus has forgiven me, but I can’t get past what I’ve done.” How many times have clinicians heard this? Christian clients unable to move beyond allowing their sin to define them can remain stuck in past failures, despite Christ’s complete forgiveness. Focusing solely on one’s failures stagnates healing and keeps one trapped in personal shortcomings rather than Christ’s overcoming. Psychologists, other licensed mental health professionals, and ministry leaders can employ the cognitive gift of imagination to counsel willing Christian clients on how to invite Jesus into what they hold against themselves, what Satan reminds them of, and what they cannot forget they have done. Each shameful trigger requires Jesus’ redemptive presence, an awareness that most often begins in the mind. Through Scripture and employing the Holy imagination, participants can help clients reroute neuropathways of self-shame, transforming triggers of self-shame into reminders of irrevocable acceptance. The process of this practice is rooted in components of cognitive and behavioral therapy and Scripture.
When it comes to sexual intimacy, unexpected factors often get in the way of a healthy and fulfilling marital sex life. Many of those factors have to do with things outside of the act of sex. It is essential for licensed mental health practitioners to have a thorough understanding of the aspects of a couple’s relationship and their upbringing that may be inhibiting a fulfilling sex life. These aspects include a couple’s emotional intimacy and communication, their individual sexual expectations, as well as any underlying mental or physical health issues. In this workshop, the presenters will address those three components to help couples find a breakthrough and pursue a healthy and fulfilling sex life with the help of a licensed mental health professional or ministry leader.
The divorce rate in the U.S. continues to be high (Perry, 2018; Stepler, 2017). Life coaches, pastors, pastoral counselors, or lay counselors can play a significant role in helping couples increase marital intimacy, strengthen their marriages, and avoid divorce (Cheney, 2017; Hatch et al., 2021). Multidimensional intimacy is a complex concept (Köstenberger & Jones, 2010; McNulty, 2016; Sears et al., 2022). However, life coaches, pastors, pastoral counselors, or lay counselors can use creative metaphors and specific strategies to help Christian couples enhance their marital intimacy (Moitinho & Moitinho, 2020). This workshop will describe multidimensional intimacy from biblical, biopsychosocial spiritual, and multisensory perspectives. It will identify creative metaphors to help Christian couples gain insight into marital intimacy. Also, it will explore strategies that life coaches, pastors, pastoral counselors, and lay counselors can use to help Christian couples succeed in their marriages.
Many licensed mental health professionals often talk about post-traumatic stress symptoms following traumatic life events, but few think about the possibility of post-traumatic growth (PTG)—the positive ways our clients can be transformed by trauma. Yet this is precisely what can happen when Christian clients face their adversity and experience the ways God wants them to use their trials to refine and mature them. This workshop will present research on post-traumatic growth, the five components of transformation, and the resources needed for healing. The presenters will provide practical therapeutic interventions to assist clients in embracing the trauma of loss and moving beyond survival toward a thriving future.
409 | Life Mapping: A Powerful Biblical Tool for Moving Families and Youth from Stuck to a Special Future
There is so much chaos and confusion in today’s world today. So many families and young people are stuck in unhealthy loops and despairing of any kind of positive future. So many are asking, “Where do I go from here?” LifeMapping® is a biblically based tool to use with licensed mental health professionals and coaching clients that helps individuals and families capture, regain, and reframe a positive and prayed-over picture of their own past strengths and struggles. It can assist participants in understanding what is blocking their clients from choosing authentic living over image management and help them create a clear, prayed-over plan toward a God-honoring future.
410 | Young Adults and Adolescents vs. the Hydra, the Multi-headed Beast: Trauma, Addictions, Dopamine Depletion, and Spiritual Emptiness
With addictions, depression, anxiety, and suicide on a fast rise with Millennials and Generation Z, it is vital we understand that addiction is not an entity within itself but, instead, part of a toxic choreography spawned by attempts to overcome previously unresolvable struggles with distress and pain. To paint a picture that helps psychologists, licensed mental health professionals, medical professionals, and ministry leaders understand what they are up against, this workshop makes the comparison to a Hydra, the mythical four-headed snake. This evil axis of unhealed trauma and its toxic shame, emptiness, dopamine deficiency, and addictions create a multi-battlefront war where each must be won, or all is lost. Too often in professional therapy and churches, sobriety is not only the primary focus but is the only focus. Participants are encouraged to see a paradigm shift toward seeing addictions and mental illnesses as adaptive survival responses to overwhelming and unbearable experiences. This workshop provides a conceptual framework that helps participants make sense of clients’ struggles, de-pathologizes their survival efforts, and respectfully guides the healing process on all fronts in a way that makes suffering count and recovery last.
Many of the best minds in Christian counseling are attending to the critical issues of abuse and trauma. While that research flourishes, ministry leaders do not want to neglect the age-old human struggles, especially the problem of anger, which is a prominent contributor to abuse and trauma. Anger remains one of the most recalcitrant expressions of the human heart—people who are intensely angry are incredibly confident that they are right. Angry people are blind to their anger. This workshop will consider strategies that have helped angry Christian clients see their anger and how to resolve it biblically.
Moving the client from talking about God to experiencing God is difficult for many ministry leaders. In this workshop, participants will explore practical tools that shift the focus from talking about God in session to facilitating encounters with God in session. As informed by 1 Thessalonians 5:23, these tools address clients’ physical, spiritual, and mental health needs by repairing or deepening their connection with God and accessing divine wisdom, love, and power for transformation. Participants will learn about the psycho-spiritual barriers hindering a client’s connection with God. Individuals will learn various tools to increase their intimacy with God, and these tools can be integrated with other interventions.
413 | Flourishing in Ministry: Research and Practices that Cultivate Well-being in Christian Leadership
The Flourishing in Ministry study is a research project focused on the well-being of clergy and their families. For over a decade, the presenter has done research with more than 15,000 clergies from a broad spectrum of Christian traditions, examining what motivates pastors and priests to be engaged in ministry—and what disrupts them from experiencing well-being in their work. The research has attempted to explore how clergy—often working with lean resources—can give so much to others and experience a sense of fulfillment and growth in their daily work lives. In this workshop, the presenter will discuss key flourishing practices in the five dimensions of the Flourishing in Ministry model—daily well-being, resilience, thriving, authenticity, and the pastor’s relational ecosystem. This workshop will teach licensed mental health professionals and ministry leaders how to help pastors flourish.
Since the pandemic in 2020, society has changed dramatically, which is reflected in the psychological profession. More people need services, and there is more demand for licensed mental health professionals to be both hope and light in a darkening world. Mental health professionals are specifically educated to be objective and aware of their own possible biases to meet clients where they are psychologically. In addition, mental health professionals are now encouraged by society, insurance companies, and licensure boards to approve all things that promote the client’s happiness, even if this goes against the professional’s clinical judgment. In this workshop, participants will explore the concept of Biblical Psychology and how to integrate the clinician’s sincerely held religious beliefs into practice without compromising the ethics codes proposed by state boards. Participants will learn specific techniques that integrate the Christian faith perspective with Christian clients without compromising the clinical standard of excellence. Participants will also learn how to engage all clients’ spiritual ideas and beliefs without getting into theological debates or proselytizing.
This workshop will describe four community campaigns to promote awareness and experience of forgiveness, reduce depression and anxiety, and increase flourishing. Participants will identify more than 20 practical lessons for licensed mental health professionals and pastors who want to create virtue-promoting campaigns in colleges or churches. In this workshop, scientific research that informs Christian spiritual formation practice will be presented. For example, a recent campaign in Colombia involving students (2,800 of the 9,000) plus professors and staff (Chen et al., 2022) will be presented that yielded effect sizes for this public health intervention that were two-thirds the size of meta-analytically derived effect sizes for all clinical forgiveness interventions (1989 to 2013; Wade et al., JCCP). Furthermore, the 16 types of activities associated with the highest gains in forgiveness, depression, anxiety, and flourishing will be discussed.
Research has shown that families of children and adolescents with mental health conditions are less likely to attend church services than unaffected families. Depression is associated with a 73% reduction in family worship service attendance. In contrast, disruptive behavior disorders, anxiety disorders, or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder are associated with 55%, 45%, and 19% reductions, respectively. Weekly church attendance among adults reporting symptoms of anxiety or depression is less than half that reported in the general population. From a Christian perspective, church engagement represents a “major life activity,” and mental impairments limiting attendance are indicative of significant disability. The presenter will utilize the lens of a cultural model of disability, which incorporates attributes associated with common mental health conditions that often clash with expectations of leaders and membership regarding behavior and social interaction when the Church gathers for worship, fellowship, education, or service. In this workshop, licensed mental health professionals and ministry leaders will learn how Christian clinicians are uniquely positioned to address church participation as a treatment goal for willing Christian clients and advocate within their congregations to implement effective mental health outreach and inclusion strategies.
Psychologists, licensed mental health professionals, and medical professionals commonly encounter clients suffering from panic disorder with agoraphobia. The Unified Protocol (UP) is a flexible, module-based, transdiagnostic treatment designed to treat the whole spectrum of emotional disorders, and it has been shown to be an effective, evidence-based intervention for this condition. In this workshop, participants will learn the basic structure of the UP and how to adapt each module to understand and treat core symptoms of panic anxiety and avoidance behavior.
418 | Why Teens Hate Their Bodies: Treating Body Image, Eating Disorders, and Identity Confusion in Gen Z
What is body image, and why do teens have difficulty accepting their bodies? Throughout the human lifespan, the teenage years can be some of the hardest to navigate. With numerous physical changes, continued brain development, the digital age, and an immense desire for independence, all while living within a morally relativistic society, it is no wonder teens struggle. In addition, teens and young adults worry about fitting in with the rest of the crowd while also trying to stand out as individuals. Given these struggles, it is no wonder eating disorders begin in adolescence as a way to cope with the pain and confusion they feel. Identity synthesis is also now a major stress of the current teen generation. According to Lisa Diamond at the University of Utah, “A growing number of children and adolescents report having gender identities or expressions that differ from their birth-assigned gender or from social and cultural gender norms” (Diamond, 2020). Findings within an article published in the Journal of Adolescence confirmed, “Identity synthesis and confusion seem to be strongly negatively and positively associated with depressive symptoms in early, mid-, and late adolescents” (Bastiaens et al., 2021). With the rise of the digital age, research findings “… suggest that manipulation and concern about selfies posted may be risk correlates for body dissatisfaction in men and women” (Lonergan et al., 2019). This workshop for licensed mental health professionals will explore the latest research and findings from scholarly journals. We will also discuss signs, symptoms, etiology, counseling techniques, and successful strategies to help those Christian clients within Generation Z find wholeness, healing, and secure identity development in their identity in Christ. Last, special emphasis will be given to helping Christian parents with their teens struggling with identity to have open and honest conversations about identity, body image, and faith.
The biblical-wellness (B-Well) model was created to attend to the current clinical and educational “gap” in the fields of professional mental health services, pastoral counseling, and medical services, providing a coherent, integrated case conceptualization model that joins wellness and a Christian worldview. The presenters will describe a wellness model based on Myers, Leucht, and Sweeney’s (2004) 4F-Welmodel reorienting the 4F model’s terms from a secular worldview to a biblical worldview based on the Great Commandment. The B-Well model recognizes that “wellness is on a continuum and takes a wholistic view of the client.” Applying the six facets of the B-Well model with the mental health professional’s theoretical orientation allows the participant to examine the concerns in the Mind, Heart, Strength, Soul, Neighbor, and Society facets of the client’s life. The B-Well model also takes from the philosophy of wellness and looks at the assets and strengths of the client when conducting a case conceptualization.
Attachment is conceptualized as the desire to connect with others in a secure and stable way (Green, Marci, and Scholes, 2003). Humans need loving bonds with others to flourish. From a biblical worldview, humans, created in the image of God, are relational beings and suffer when secure attachments are lacking or distorted. Attachment theory recognizes that adult emotional regulation is influenced by early childhood attachments (Girme, Jones, Fleck, Simpson & Overall, 2020; Orlans & Levy, 2014). Inadequate caregiving results in attachment disorders (Zeanah & Gleeson, 2015). Attachment patterns marked by insecurity and anxiety may lead to relationship stress and difficulty. From a biblical perspective, Jesus is the ultimate attachment figure (Knabb, Johnson, Bates & Sisemore, 2019). In Christian therapy with Christian clients, a psychologist or other mental health professional can provide a safe and secure space for clients to explore their early childhood attachment patterns and the strategies they developed to maintain or avoid attention in relationships. The problems arising from these strategies are reframed, and new strategies are developed.
This presentation will give ministry leaders and licensed mental health professionals specific and creative methods to bridge the gap between local social services and churches. When churches and social services work together for the common good of protecting children, families benefit by having more resources and less isolation. In this workshop, the presenter will explain the fear of social workers and churches working together for multiple reasons. However, in 2019 the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors initiated a policy to work better “with the family community.” As a result of this initiative, newer policies are changing the working relationships between faith leaders and the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services. Attendees will learn about training for social workers on working with religious clients and how churches can make a difference with children at risk of entering foster care.
422 | Advocacy for a Christian Worldview: The Necessity of Christian Ethics to Inform the Counseling Profession
Ethics codes are influenced by the worldviews and ideologies of those creating, interpreting, and enforcing the codes. Licensed mental health professionals who morally dissent from privileged value positions and ideologies face the risk of sanctions by licensing boards, and mental health training programs may risk losing accreditation status for holding to a Christian worldview. Trainees face self-censorship, remediation, and even expulsion from secular training programs for their religious beliefs. In this workshop, licensed mental health professionals, medical professionals, and ministry leaders will examine the Ward vs. Wilbanks landmark case, where the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals stated, “… tolerance is a two-way street,” and suggested the training program was promoting orthodoxy under the guise of anti-discrimination. Participants will discuss recent research showing conservative Christian counseling students perceived a lack of psychological safety and an appreciation of differences in their secular training programs based on the demographic categories of religious, spiritual, and political-cultural identities. The ultimate result of these actions is that many clients may not have access to mental health professionals who understand and respect their worldviews and values. Christian mental health professionals and educators need effective arguments and advocacy tools to be equipped to make a case for ideological and ethical diversity within the profession.
This workshop is designed for coaches, pastors, pastoral counselors, or lay counselors interested in incorporating the Enneagram into their coaching and consulting practice. The Enneagram is a powerful tool for personal and professional growth, and this workshop will provide an overview of how it can be used to enhance coaching and consulting practice and benefit clients. The workshop presenters will share their stories of how they developed a global Enneagram platform. They will demonstrate the contribution of the Enneagram to personal, professional, and relational coaching and the steps to incorporating it into an existing practice.
Like a theater play, leaders have a frontstage and a backstage. The frontstage is the public world, and the backstage is the private world. An authentic story originates backstage. Clients live in a frontstage-dominated world, yet core longings such as belonging, love, empathy, significance, and safety are backstage. What roots are to a tree, the backstage is to the frontstage. It empowers and sustains a leader’s frontstage success. This workshop will apply the S.T.O.R.Y. system, which is the heart of the backstage, to assist ministry leaders and coaches in helping clients produce authenticity in their lives.
Forgiveness is a key concept in Christianity. Christian clients are often motivated to practice forgiveness because of their Christian faith. However, their understanding of divine forgiveness can also be a source of confusion. This presentation is aimed to clarify such confusion by elucidating how divine forgiveness is similar to and different from human forgiveness. In particular, given the motivation to emulate God’s forgiveness among Christians, what God does in divine forgiveness that humans in practicing forgiveness do or do not do will be unpacked. Furthermore, both conceptual and operational definitions of divine forgiveness in forgiveness psychology will be considered, and research findings showing the link between divine forgiveness and other types of forgiveness, as well as psychological outcomes, will be discussed. By the end of the presentation, licensed mental health professionals and ministry leaders will gain up-to-date knowledge about the psychology of divine forgiveness applicable to helping clients forgive in their mental health practices.
Social disconnection is on the rise. As a result, many Christians, including leaders, feel disconnected, leading to unhealthy relational patterns, spiritual struggles, and ineffective ministry. How, then, do ministry leaders and coaches help clients cultivate authentic relational connections with God and others? This presentation will apply the relational spirituality model (Hall, 2021), including an attachment lens, to coaching and mentoring roles. The presenter will explore the importance of creating a secure base with clients and strategies for doing this using a tool called the comfort-challenge matrix. In this workshop, participants will see the core needs of each insecure attachment pattern and how they show up in clients’ narratives, stances toward themselves, and ways of relating to the issues they bring to coaching conversations. The presenter will highlight several coaching strategies for each attachment pattern and emphasize the importance of coaches and mentors developing their own internal secure base. Finally, the presenter will explain how to use the Spiritual Transformation Inventory to facilitate the development of a secure internal base in a coaching context.
313 | A Cord of Three Strands: Intentional Collaboration Between Counselor, Church, and Focused Support Groups
All licensed mental health professionals and ministry leaders desire to improve treatment outcomes for hurting people. In the same way that physical healthcare has become more specialized in recent years, so has mental healthcare, resulting in a growing number of options for care. The number of people suffering from sexual trauma/abuse, sexual addiction, eating disorders, marital strife, dysfunctional relationships, divorce, grief, etc. is enormous and growing. Yet, many Christians are unsure where to go for help. Should they go to the Church, a clinician, or a support group? Why not all three? (Farrell and Goebert, 2008; Breuninger, Dolan, Padilla, and Stanford, 2014; Sullivan, Pyne, Cheney, Hunt, Haynes, and Sullivan, 2017). What might impact treatment outcomes if there was increased, intentional collaboration between the clinician, the pastoral counselor, and the leaders of focused support groups (Prov. 11:14)? One of the obstacles to improved treatment outcomes has been the lack of collaboration between the clinician and the Church (McMinn, Aikins, and Lish, 2003; Oppenheimer, Flannelly, and Weaver, 2004; McMinn, Vogel, and Heyne, 2010; Milstein, Middel, and Espinosa, 2017). This workshop will identify and discuss the impact of increased and intentional collaboration on client outcomes. The presenters will demonstrate how clinicians, teaming up with pastoral counselors and focused support group leaders, provide a more comprehensive care system to those in need. Encouraging the hurting to participate in focused support groups, pastoral counseling, and professional therapy concurrently will improve treatment outcomes that exceed those working in only one of these settings. Increased collaboration will then increase the effectiveness of each individual setting.
Many licensed mental health professionals and medical professionals have heard about Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) and that it has strong research on its effectiveness with trauma and other mental health issues. In this workshop, the history of EMDR and the Adaptive Information Processing (AIP) model will be explained and discussed. Participants will learn the definition of trauma and how it affects people’s brains and central nervous systems. Many people who have experienced trauma live in self-denigrating or limiting ways. The AIP model explains how EMDR Therapy helps integrate trauma experiences and memories into the brain’s adaptive portions, thereby resolving the impact of trauma as a whole. Participants will be introduced to the eight Phases of EMDR therapy and how EMDR is effective with different populations and clinical disorders.
Caring for children through adoption and foster care is critically important. However, the journey of adoption and foster care can be challenging, and families are often not prepared to meet the unique challenges of their children (e.g., trauma, attachment difficulties, etc.). It is critical to come alongside families and support them on this journey. In this presentation, the presenters will discuss some key considerations for meeting the mental health needs of adoptive and foster families. First, psychologists, licensed mental health professionals, and ministry leaders are encouraged to consider ways to help adoptive and foster children heal from trauma (Purvis et al., 2007). Second, the presenters will discuss ways to help families work with their children to build a closer attachment bond (Hoffman et al., 2017). Finally, participants will examine contextual factors that are important to consider when working with adoptive and foster families (e.g., cultural adjustment, grief/loss, relationships with birth parents; Hook & Hook, 2023). The presenters will integrate research, clinical examples, and practical applications throughout the presentation. By helping to meet the mental health needs of adoptive and foster families, psychologists, other mental health professionals, and ministry leaders can help families survive and thrive.
Today’s culture wrestles with the concepts of good and evil. According to biblical teaching, Christian clients see evil winning battles when foundational biblical truths are eliminated from culture. Scripture reminds Christian clients that the battle is not against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers. Psychospiritual healing is the intersection of the psychological and spiritual realms. Therefore, it is crucial to understand a client’s connection with the spiritual realm, what techniques align with this mandate, and the role of psychology and neuroplasticity. In this workshop, participants will learn a practical, evidence-informed, biblically based intervention to help patients connect with God in a practical, tangible, actionable spiritual discipline of direction or Mashah-styled prayer. The Mashah Ministry model is based on the Hebrew meaning of the Word Mashah, which means to pull or draw out. Using this ministry/prayer/meditation model, participants will learn how to draw clients out of their pain and into the presence of the Triune God. Psychologists, licensed mental health professionals, medical professionals, and ministry leaders will be able to review the research connected with meditation and physical and mental health and how the Mashah-styled prayer can affect the neuroplasticity of a client based on its meditative components.
Research in interpersonal neurobiology (IPNB) currently reveals nine domains of integration that are developed and strengthened in the context of secure attachment. This integration process also correlates with a client’s awareness of and attunement to the mind’s full activity in the present moment. Awareness and attunement, when practiced repetitively, lead to a durable transformation, most notably in the context of vulnerable, confessional communities. This workshop will explore the fundamental IPNB features that assist psychologists and other licensed mental health professionals in addressing those events that are taking place directly in the therapeutic encounter within these communities that lead to durable transformation.
Grief is a natural, expected reaction to all types of loss, not just death. However, for some people, feelings of loss are debilitating and do not improve over time. Readjusting to loss involves adopting healthy new ways of living that involve new behavioral routines, developing coping skills, and shifting and reinventing roles and responsibilities within the family, work, and community. Generally, complicated grief is identified when an individual becomes stuck in a prolonged dysfunctional reaction lasting 12 months or longer. Although grief is natural and expected, it can become debilitating when prolonged to the individual, family, and community. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) has quickly established itself as a leading “third wave” approach in the behavioral therapy tradition used by licensed mental health professionals and ministry leaders. However, unlike CBT, which emphasizes helping a client modify irrational or unhelpful thoughts, the underlying philosophy of ACT is that trying to change or even fix oneself often exacerbates symptoms—and thus, acceptance is critical. ACT brings together the best of many worlds—it integrates, from a Christian perspective, watchfulness into a coherent system of therapy and, at the same time, is supported by extensive research with a variety of populations. After years of research analysis, ACT has achieved the status of an evidence-based approach, recognized by the American Psychological Association (APA) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) of the U.S. government. ACT is a practical, evidence-based counseling model for those struggling with complex, prolonged, and inflexible grief reactions. In this workshop, attendees will analyze a comprehensive ACT model for individual and group counseling for complex grief reactions. Participants can also apply core Christian faith disciplines and biblically informed skills and techniques that align with ACT’s empirically validated therapeutic factors to use with their Christian clients. Attendees can use these skills frequently in clinical and church settings.
It is no secret that today’s generations face increased pressures and challenges like no previous generation. Whether it is the pressure to fit in or perform well in the classroom, on an athletic team, or even to meet the demands within the home, kids are struggling, and the impact has been devastating as mental health issues continue to surge among this population. Therefore, this workshop will examine the contributing issues and highlight the significant research on resilience, which has been noted as an increasingly important element in helping children persist and remain hopeful in adversity. Further, this workshop gives licensed mental health professionals and ministry leaders evidence-based practices, including attachment-based and cognitive-behavioral strategies and techniques that can be used along with their impact on developing adaptive skills and facilitating resilience within the next generation.
Often, clients come to therapy due to cyclic emotional distress, and reducing this distress is often a primary goal of treatment (Herz et al., 2020). Psychologists and licensed mental health professionals have struggled with what actually works in trauma therapy (Dawes, 2008), given the vast number of therapy modalities from which to choose. “Although the psychotherapy field has existed for well over 100 years, it nonetheless still cannot be classified as a mature science—one where there exists an agreed-upon core or consensus. With its numerous competing schools of thought, psychotherapy has yet to achieve an agreed-upon consensus” (Goldfried, 2020). Many clinicians and medical professionals have felt perplexed over disparate and seemingly unrelated therapies purported to be effective and why mechanisms within these therapies seem discrete. Since the late 1990s, neuroscience research has been shedding progressive light on the neurobiology involved with therapeutic changes in emotional learning (Nader, Schafe & LeDoux, 2000; Przybyslawski, Roullet & Sara, 1999; Przybyslawski & Sara, 1997; Roullet & Sara, 1998). Moreover, clinical research has been pointing to a possible mechanism for changing pathogenic emotional learning (e.g., trauma symptoms), namely, Memory Reconsolidation (“MR”), also termed the Reconsolidation Framework Hypothesis (Ecker, Hulley, & Ticic, 2015; Hase et al., 2017; Welling, 2012). This workshop will summarize a hypothetical unified theory of neuroscience and clinical research that seems to be at work in several therapy modalities that appear to use MR as a mechanism (Ecker & Alexandre, 2022; Ecker & Bridges, 2020; Ecker & Vaz, 2022; Kredlow & Otto 2015; Lane et al., 2015; Astill Wright et al., 2021; Welling, 2012). In addition, applications of several Empirically Supported Treatments (ESTs) that appear to use MR will be discussed (Chamberlin, 2019; Hase et al., 2017; Lane, 2018; Oren & Solomon, 2012; Schwabe, Nader & Pruessner, 2014; Solomon & Shapiro, 2008). Moreover, the integration of Christian resources, in particular, attachment to God and encounters with God (John 15:4; Psalm 27:10), will also be examined with the therapy modalities (Currier et al., 2022; Keefer & Brown, 2018; Mayer, 2013; Post & Wade, 2009; Vietin & Scammell, 2015). Applications for two ESTs, Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (Solomon & Shapiro, 2008), and Accelerated Resolution Therapy (Schimmels & Waits, 2019), will be considered, as well as an intervention still undergoing thorough research (Lehman, 2016; Hodgdon et al., 2021).
Amid the most devastating drug epidemic in history, a comprehensive strategy for treating families and loved ones of those suffering from substance use disorders is often neglected. Failing to treat the family and social systems of those battling substance abuse risks perpetuating the cycle of addiction. Recognizable patterns of dysfunctional emotional, social, and physical behavior in the family and loved ones of those suffering from substance use disorders have long been identified by healthcare professionals as codependency. Codependency shares symptoms of dependent and borderline personality disorders, though neither diagnosis encompasses the relational elements common with codependents. In this workshop, the symptoms of codependency will be examined, along with the impact of addiction on family systems and how family members can impede the progress of their loved ones through addiction counseling. Treatment options, including boundary implementation and the 12-step recovery model, will be explored for treating codependent individuals and families.
322 | International Cross-cultural Counseling: Ethical Challenges, Technological Advances, and Member Care
This evidence-based group-panel workshop on International Cross-Cultural Counseling is designed for psychologists and licensed mental health professionals to learn more about the nuanced dynamics and issues related to international counseling work. Ethical and legal issues related to various cultures and laws (or lack thereof) will be reviewed, and ethical suggestions for noted issues, based on lived experience, will be offered and discussed. Advances and new opportunities provided by telemental health will be reviewed, and the panel will also discuss Pandora’s box of unintended ethical issues and challenges that have occurred due to the rise in telemental health. The panel will also discuss cross-cultural competence and the implications of all these issues for NGOs, military contractors, Third Culture Kids, and Member Care.
The body of Christ, the global Christian Church, is strategically positioned to play a crucial role in addressing mental health issues and disparities around the world. This workshop presents several strategies on how churches, with the aid of licensed mental health professionals, can engage in mental health ministries for their congregations, communities, and as a mission strategy. The presenter will give an overview of the current state of knowledge on mental health and the Church, create awareness for known pitfalls, and address the opportunities and future directions that are available for the global Church. Furthermore, the presenter will explain how existing and emerging technologies can assist in this endeavor.
324 | Empowering Assessments: Using Emotional Intelligence, Enneagram, Clifton Strengths, and Personality Inventories
There are several emotional intelligence and personality tools for coaches and ministry leaders, and many to consider. It can be confusing and overwhelming with all the available options. This session explores best practices for integrating Emotional Intelligence, Enneagram, Clifton Strengths, and more into your practice. We will compare and contrast these assessments and their benefits to clients in various areas of their lives. Participants will gain confidence in determining which ones will benefit clients and the strategies to help them apply these newly acquired insights to their personal and/or professional lives. Medical professionals will also gain an understanding of these emotional intelligence and personality tools that their patients talk about in their appointments.
Leaders are often the last to come to mind when one thinks about trauma. After 20 years of groundbreaking research, counseling, and consulting, the presenters have found a common thread among high-capacity leaders—most have unresolved childhood trauma that eventually runs interference if not addressed. Sadly, this causes a disconnect between a leader’s public and private life, impacting the fabric of the entire family, church, and society. In this workshop, the presenters will explore the 10 most common symptoms leaders face, such as narcissism, isolation, and compartmentalization. This workshop will integrate the latest insights from neuroscience, trauma research, leadership development, and spiritual formation. It will provide a clear roadmap for ministry leaders and coaches to develop their clients’ inner lives as their influence grows. Whether one is an executive coach or pastor working with leaders, learning how to assess and treat the leadership and trauma cycle is vital to bringing about long-term healing in this and the next generations.
Two of the most damaging aftereffects of adverse childhood experiences are their impact on how clients see themselves and how they experience God if they are Christians. This is of particular concern for licensed mental health professionals and ministry leaders working within the faith community. A healthy and accurate self-image is essential to people’s mental health and happiness. For Christian clients, a genuine and meaningful relationship with God is one of the greatest soul longings. Unfortunately, childhood trauma compromises their self-image and intimacy with God, creating profound distortions of both self and God. This workshop will explore the impact of childhood trauma on one’s relationship with themselves and God, with suggestions on how licensed mental health professionals can address this important aspect of clients’ lives in the therapeutic environment and practical application for those serving in faith communities.
Compulsive overeating can be a difficult issue to tackle for psychologists, licensed mental health professionals, medical professionals, or ministry leaders. Often, this issue can lead to obesity and multiple other health factors that can discourage the client from making changes. This workshop will cover issues related to compulsive overeating through an addiction framework. The presenter will explore behavior, cognitions, emotions, relationships, and spiritual issues for Christian clients that can exacerbate compulsive eating and keep clients in an addictive pattern. In this workshop, participants will be able to learn new therapeutic interventions to bring help and hope to those who are suffering.
403 | Practical Support for Trauma Recovery: 7 Spiritual and Lifestyle Keys that Set the Stage for Healing
Multiple evidence-based models, trauma treatments, and many new approaches exist. However, even the most effective clinical protocols may not work for all clients. Trauma-informed care must include recommendations and suggestions for healing that extends beyond the counseling office. This workshop explores lifestyle and faith-based spiritual interventions that can speed trauma recovery and support clinical interventions. It will include specific faith-based applications for use with Christian clients.
404 | Riding the Waves of Emotion: Practical Skills for Emotion Regulation in Suicidal and Self-harming Clients
Emotion dysregulation is a frequently reported symptom of many psychological disorders, especially suicidal and self-harming behaviors. This workshop will explore the nature, function, and neurobiology of emotion regulation and its development through securely attached relationships in childhood. It will address how it manifests when not adequately developed. Practical strategies and exercises psychologists and other licensed mental health professionals can use for teaching emotion regulation will be presented. Evidence-based tools that can be readily adapted into therapeutic interventions to assist those struggling with suicidal and self-harming behaviors will be covered.
405 | Let’s Talk About Sex: Giving Couples Essential Tools for Renewing Connection and Maximizing Intimacy
One of the most simple but potent tools for helping couples with sexual intimacy is helping them communicate—and know what to communicate about. Recent nationally-representative research demonstrates that sexual intimacy is vital for marriage and communication for building sexual intimacy—yet 73% of couples do not talk about sex well. Most couples also are laboring under the weight of inaccurate perceptions about sexuality. In the absence of good communication and correct knowledge, couples rely on subconscious mental perceptions and biases, such as, “My spouse doesn’t want sex as often as I do, so I must not be desirable enough to him or her.” These attributions are often in error and create even more heartache. This workshop will explore these factors and give licensed mental health professionals and ministry leaders simple but effective tools to help those they serve.
Just as we physically train for fitness, the brain can also be trained to resist anxiety and manage stress. Using non-pharmacological interventions, this workshop will discuss how the autonomic nervous system activates the fight, flight, freeze, and fawn responses to stress in concert with the limbic system, resulting in increased anxiety and stress. This workshop for psychologists, licensed mental health professionals, medical professionals, and ministry leaders will provide interventions related to this process, specifically targeting anxiety pathways in the brain. Through evidence-based bottom-up and top-down brain interventions, clinicians can identify and apply strategies that clients can practically utilize to calm anxiety and manage stress.
217 | The Brain, Dragons, and Couples: The Neuroscience of Helping Relationships Navigate the Big Emotional Issues
Brain health, as well as emotional issues, influence the way clients engage in love and react in relationships. In this workshop, the presenters will examine the 12 Dragons from the Past, known as the big emotional issues, which breathe fire on clients’ brains and disrupt how they relate in their most important relationships. Licensed mental health professionals and ministry leaders will see how changes in brain function can impact individuals and, subsequently, those they care about. This workshop will be immediately applicable to clinical practice.
218 | Using Evidence-based Strategies, the Enneagram, and Biblical Principles When Working with Difficult Clients
Mental health professionals and medical professionals may experience fatigue, frustration, and stress when working with clients who resist attending counseling sessions or medical appointments. The reasons clients present as unmotivated, hostile, angry, or oppositional to the therapeutic process or medical intervention will vary in complexity. The therapeutic process can be productive when mental health and medical professionals are equipped with strategies and interpersonal skills to mitigate the client’s resistance and understand the purpose for which clients use resistance. This presentation provides mental health professionals, medical professionals, coaches, clergy, and service providers with effective strategies, interventions, empirical techniques, and biblical principles to facilitate a favorable outcome when working with difficult Christian clients.
219 | Faith-based Positive Psychology: Best Practices to Flourish and Be Resilient in Stressful Times
In this workshop, psychologists, licensed mental health professionals, and ministry leaders will be able to consider a new vision of emerging advances in mental health, Faith-based Positive Psychology, neurobiology, and verified biblical practices for Human Flourishing and resilience. Discover biblical, psychological, and lifestyle prescriptions that provide effective interventions, strategies, remedies, and antidotes to many current mental and emotional health risk factors. Especially during these stressful times of continual uncertainty, change, loss, and relentless new challenges, participants will explore how these cutting-edge, scientifically-validated interventions and complementary therapies can be practically integrated and applied in clients’ lives. Discover inspiration, vitality, and how to increase your impact for preventing languishing and promoting resilience and well-being in all areas of life.
In this session, the presenters will describe the Healing Conversations on Race (HEAL) model (Vazquez et al., in press) for building unity in cross-racial relationships through intentional conversations about racism and race-related topics, utilizing a Christian psychology approach (Johnson, 2010) that draws upon psychological and spiritual insights from the Bible as a foundation for Christian clients. Specifically, the presenters will discuss the biblical principles of the model, focusing on the grand narrative of Scripture (Wolters, 2005) and nature of God, humanity, sin/sinfulness, and sanctification/Christlikeness (Anderson et al., 2017; Bonhoeffer, 1955). With Christlikeness as the ultimate goal of conversations on race, spiritual formation (Wright, 2017) will be described as the process whereby growth toward Christlikeness in cross-racial relationships occurs. The presenters will build upon these astute psychological and spiritual insights from the Bible with theory and research-supported methods from secular psychology, including attachment theory (Bartholomew & Horowitz, 1991; Bowlby, 1982; Hazan & Shaver, 1987), emotionally focused therapy (Becker-Weidman et al., 2012; Johnson, 2019; Makinen & Johnson, 2006), and the diversity literature (i.e., cultural humility; Hook et al., 2017). Tethered to this understanding, the presenters will explore the key elements of the HEAL model for psychologists, licensed mental health professionals, and ministry leaders to implement, which include humility (H), empathy (E), acceptance of race-related emotions (A), and Christlike love (L). Each practice/principle of the model will be illuminated in detail, anchored to the aforementioned biblical underpinnings and secular psychological theory and research. To conclude, the presenters will provide examples of ways to include the practices and principles of the model in congregational, counseling, and clinical settings.
This workshop will explore strategies for Christian mental health professionals when engaging with clients, organizations, and stakeholders around difficult issues where orthodox Christian beliefs and values of the therapist conflict with client values. Use of the National Association of Social Work (NASW) code of ethics, values-based conversations, moral and ethical decision-making models (Donelson, 2020; Garrigan et al.,2018; Rae, 2018; Singer et al., 2019; Singer et al., 2021) and worldview assessment (Bouma et al., 2022; Chege et al., 2022) will be reviewed and discussed as strategies to engage clients. Participants will explore case examples and identify specific action steps for use in their practice setting.
This workshop will examine the religious and social support black congregations and communities have received historically from the black church (Graham & Roemer, 2012). Historically, religion, spirituality, and religious institutions have helped African-Americans cope with various issues, including physical illness, mental illness, grief and loss, legal concerns, relational challenges, unemployment, and racism (Thompkins et al., 2020). In recent years, the coronavirus pandemic, hate crimes, and race-based incidents have contributed to an increase in the number of African-Americans seeking therapy for depression and anxiety (Liu & Modir, 2020; Hayward and Krause, 2015). As the stigma of seeking mental health services in the African-American community decreases, African-American churches and licensed mental health providers are encouraged to establish partnerships to provide hope and healing for both the congregation and the community. Examples of support and outreach programs designed to improve the physical, spiritual, and emotional well-being of congregations and communities will be discussed.
The field of professional Christian coaching continues to be a growing opportunity, especially in these challenging times, to partner with others and transform lives. My passion is to train every coach to become a master coach. This workshop will teach you the essential skills to become a master coach. Some of these master coaching skills include coaching the person and not the problem, embracing your unique coaching style, and looking for insights and not just outcomes. You will observe some masterful coaching, and we will review the coaching model tool to help you become a masterful coach.
225 | Imposter Syndrome: Timely Insights and Proven Strategies to Address One of the Nation’s Most Overlooked Mental Health Issues
Thousands of people seek help from life coaches for their low self-esteem and confidence each year. Even some of the most famous public figures in the world, like Albert Einstein, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Michelle Obama, Meryl Streep, and Tom Hanks, have suffered from what is known as “Imposter Syndrome,” or the feeling that you do not deserve the position or responsibility you have been given. According to the American Psychological Association, nearly 70% of U.S. adults may experience Impostor Syndrome at least once in their lifetime. Highlighting the most up-to-date scientific research, proven evidence-based treatment strategies, and emerging approaches, this workshop will deepen participants’ understanding of Imposter Syndrome and equip them with the most current, evidence-based therapeutic practices to utilize with clients.
The appeal of “superheroes” permeates human history, both secular and religious. No matter the age, all people experiencing trauma want to be rescued and protected. Adverse experiences can lead to isolation, shame, and repeated traumatization. By blending professional expertise with biblical and faith-focused examples, this workshop will describe Superhero Trauma Therapy in a multi-modal approach that is spiritually affirming for Christian clients that licensed mental health professionals and ministry leaders can use. Specific examples will be presented with historical, cultural, and biblical references for use within Superhero Trauma Therapy that can incorporate client values and strengths.
Sexual integrity seems to be under assault in today’s culture. Many people are impacted by pornography, infidelity, and sex addiction like never before. The problem is at pandemic levels, yet there is a significant deficit concerning a proven plan to deal with the devastation in the lives of men, women, and families. Surface-level advice, strategies, accountability groups, and sermons only go so far when the depth of this problem can be sexual brokenness and bondage. This workshop will help licensed mental health professionals and ministry leaders gain a deeper understanding of the impact of family of origin, neurobiology, attachment, trauma, and the high-octane nature of addiction to internet pornography. A proven, practical, biblical, research-informed treatment plan for sex addiction will be presented.
Unfortunately, man-made and natural disasters are becoming more common, and licensed mental health professionals and medical professionals face the challenge of treating those impacted by these traumatic events. Before creating treatment goals, the initial challenge is to assess post-traumatic stress and post-traumatic stress disorder. Once an assessment is completed, an appropriate treatment plan can be determined. Many clinicians are untrained in assessing for post-traumatic stress and PTSD, as training often focuses on treatment practices. An accurate assessment is critical for effective PTSD treatment; hence, it is critically important to focus on current and effective assessments that help determine a diagnosis. This workshop will review the practical application of PTSD assessments within the therapy process and specifically focus on analyzing and presenting such considerations in clinical settings.
Suicide is an event that can profoundly disrupt survivors’ taken-for-granted constructs about life, sometimes traumatically shaking the very foundations of one’s assumptive world. While post-traumatic growth (PTG) is a hot topic today, historically licensed mental health providers and ministry leaders have spent decades helping people cope with trauma instead of focusing on the client’s potential for resiliency. This workshop will assist clinicians working with Christian survivors of suicide as they explore three areas of impact that will lead to PTG. It will provide a roadmap for clinicians as they help survivors grope their way toward new sustainable frameworks of meaning by interrogating the tacit assumptions about life, God, and the world around them that were challenged by the trauma. As a suicide survivor and psychotherapist, the presenter brings a dual awareness that will help prepare clinicians for their work with suicidal clients and the survivors of suicide who are left behind.
Reproductive trauma is specialized trauma comprised of miscarriage, infertility, premature or complicated birth, carrying a baby with health risks, and subsequent reoccurring losses. Approximately one in four will experience miscarriage and loss, while one in eight will experience infertility throughout their lifespan. Despite the vast number impacted by reproductive trauma, there remains a gap in public awareness and unclear direction for psychologists, licensed mental health professionals, medical professionals, and ministry leaders. Adding to the trauma is the complexity of the experience that is unique for each individual/couple. Due to the lack of available and/or adequate medical, mental health, and community support, individuals/couples are at risk for developing mental health issues, including post-traumatic stress, depression, anxiety, relational issues, and spiritual distress for Christian clients. Clients may feel stigmatized, isolated, or dismissed by well-meaning friends, family, or the church community without a clear understanding of reproductive trauma. In this workshop, the goals are to increase awareness of the impact of reproductive trauma and highlight post-traumatic growth that can occur using trauma-informed treatment coupled with spiritually-integrated interventions for Christian clients. This presentation also includes clinical interviews, resources, and suggestions for increasing community and church support.
This workshop will address trends in care among licensed mental health and medical professionals who work with children, adolescents, and adults who experience diverse gender identities. The presenters will discuss transgender and nonbinary experiences, emphasizing how to work with conventionally religious families in clinical practice. In this workshop, participants will be able to identify controversies in care for youth today, such as the use of puberty blockers, medical transition, and late-onset cases. The presenters will also discuss Christian considerations for counseling Christian youth and their families as participants strive for what is best practice when working with conventionally religious families in which a family member is navigating gender identity and faith.
307 | From Anger to Intimacy: Reignite Your Marriage with Forgiveness, Understanding, and Appreciation
Many have heard it said, “Unresolved anger is like drinking poison expecting your spouse to get sick.” Some sip the poison, while others drink it by the gallon each day. Unresolved anger drains a marriage of kindness, care, gentleness, and honor. This poison threatens relationships at work, home, church, and in the community because many never fully resolve their anger. If anger is unresolved in the family of origin, past relationships, or a previous marriage, it will resurface, and spouses usually get the brunt of it. The bond of relational, emotional, spiritual, and physical intimacy strengthens when both spouses feel safe, heard, and valued. This workshop explores the factors and skills necessary to experience high levels of marital satisfaction and deep levels of intimacy. It will benefit pastors, pastoral counselors, lay counselors, and coaches working with struggling couples in crisis and prevent thriving marriages from drinking the poison.
Sexual and emotional infidelity is reported by about half of the U.S. population. Research has shown that evidence-based treatment needs to include specific therapeutic factors. The following factors will be introduced to licensed mental health professionals and ministry leaders: a therapy contract (Peluso, 2007); addressing family of origin factors (Fife, 2020); exploring a personal sexual history (Warach, 2018); investigating the availability of the affair partner (Munsch, 2018); exploring attachment history (Mitchell, 2021); looking at developmental changes, age, family makeup, career upheaval, etc. (Williamson, 2017); and assessing the ability to forgive (Chi, 2019). This workshop outlines a systematic structure that will help contain anger, lower spousal anxiety, provide measurable progress, build skill deficits, restore respect and trust, and initiate reattachment (if so desired) in couples affected by marital infidelity.
309 | Hope-filled Fathering: A Research-based, Theologically-sound Approach to Strengthen Family Connections through Increased Father Engagement
The science of hope has generated new insights and pathways which strengthen relationships and enrich interpersonal bonds. This session will allow licensed mental health professionals and ministry leaders to explore the application of research on hope as it influences fathering status, behaviors, and attitudes. Experiential techniques will be presented using measures of commitment, attunement, and joy as positive contributors to hope and fathering satisfaction. The father-daughter relationship will be highlighted with specific strategies to improve the dynamics of that bond and assess the individual, relational, and cultural effects of father absence and presence in a daughter’s life. Additional focus on the father-daughter relationship will include techniques fathers can practice amplifying hope through their “way power” and “will power” within their family system.
310 | Technological Infringement: Are Social Media and AI Impacting Development in Children and Teens?
Social media has become embedded in Christian clients’ human and spiritual developmental tasks. This workshop will explore the impacts of social media use on human and spiritual development growth tasks to shine a light on social media use and the current and future effects on child and adolescent developmental tasks. Looking through the lenses of traditional human and spiritual development theories and stages, licensed mental health professionals and ministry leaders will gain strategies and know-how to navigate the continued use of social media as people choose to embed its use into daily living.
121 | The Body Bears the Burden: The Physical Consequences of Narcissistic and Emotional Abuse in Marriage
Our clients’ minds and bodies are connected. Too many mental health clinicians focus on treating the mind, forgetting to ask questions about the body. Thus, they are in danger of enabling a very destructive process instead of participating in powerful interventions. This workshop explores how an unhealthy marriage often leads to an unhealthy body and how the body keeps the score for the health of the marriage. Psychologists, licensed mental health professionals, medical professionals, and ministry leaders will explore how chronic narcissistic and emotional abuse often leads to various psychosomatic illnesses, with the body and physical symptoms reflecting the health of the marriage. This workshop will explore psychosomatic illness and its relationship to PTSD and Complex PTSD, its connection to chronic stress in marriage, and action steps participants should take to help those struggling to cope. The presenters will explore “emotional exhaustion” and the cost to spouses of “over-functioning” and coping, adapting, and accommodating a stressful marriage. Finally, steps will be elucidated for clinicians to assist spouses suffering from psychosomatic illness to take responsibility for their healing, which includes how to assist a spouse in finding appropriate emotional help through therapy and physical support through medical assistance with a physician, as well as creating healthy boundaries that can lead to physical healing.
In recent years, many changes and shifts in the APA, ACA, and NASW ethics codes have concerned psychologists and licensed mental health professionals with sincerely held religious beliefs. Physicians and other medical health care professionals are seeing the legislatures in multiple states addressing the ethical issues, especially the issue of consciousness, when it comes to practice of medicine. Those with sincerely held religious beliefs do not want to be compelled to go against their beliefs to do their jobs. In this workshop, the presenters will give a brief history of the ethics codes of these agencies over time and compare and contrast the codes of ethics to that of the AACC Y2023 Code of Ethics. Additionally, the presenters will review the current and future implications of the laws being implemented on federal, state, and local levels for medical and mental health professionals. Last, the presenters will give participants practical ways those with sincerely held religious beliefs can practice ethically with all types of clients while still maintaining their values.
Based on the experience of training more than 30,000 peer and professional counselors to serve thousands of Chinese-speaking populations in 15 countries, this presenter will share practical tips to engage, create a corrective emotional experience, and motivate treatment-avoidant populations to get on the path of learning and growth. Key elements of a 12-session skill-based program (which integrates biblical principles and active ingredients of evidence-based therapy approaches) will be shared that enhances emotional intelligence, affect regulation, and relationship strengths with clients. Practical tips will be shared that are applicable to clients from all ethnic backgrounds that psychologists, licensed mental health professionals, and ministry leaders treat.
This session will prepare coaches to excel in career-focused sessions with clients seeking to change industries, improve job satisfaction, get promoted, or make career decisions. Career trends in recent years have spanned “The Great Resignation,” “The Great Reshuffle,” a “work from home” phenomenon, the “gig economy,” “quiet quitting,” and other shifts. Employees and employers are finding each other through different mediums and rejecting each other for new reasons. Best practices for interviewing, resumes, and networking have rapidly evolved. Young professionals joining the workforce report core values that differ from previous generations and significantly impact career decisions. A well-prepared career coach can address these issues and more for clients across generations. This session will prepare life coaches to strategize, advise, and train clients to identify and pursue work-related goals.
Coaching, whether Life Coaching or Executive Coaching, requires the coach to facilitate the client’s development. For clients to reach their goals and resolve their obstacles, they must have certain fundamental internal needs met and addressed, giving them the skills to take their next steps. In this workshop, the presenters will provide a structure to help coaches identify what they need, offer helpful conversational interventions to strengthen those needs, and then tie it into achieving the goals that are most important to them. From content based on Dr. Townsend’s book, People Fuel, and the model of Relational Nutrients, coaches will be able to accelerate their clients’ growth from this structure.
201 | Revenge Pornography, Sexual Exploitation, and Sextortion: Addressing Sexual Abuse in a Digital Age
Digital media has changed the landscape for communication in today’s culture. While technology and digital media advances have benefits, there are corresponding risks that are rarely discussed or noticed until someone is directly impacted by such abuse. Sexual abuse, sexual harassment, sexual exploitation, sextortion, and child abuse no longer only take place in person or “offline” but also occur through digital media platforms online. The same relationship dynamics that exist offline also exist online. Perpetrators of abuse use electronic means to harass, stalk, manipulate, extort, and exact revenge on current, former or wanted romantic partners. A domestic abuser who berates his victim in person will continue to do so through digital means, such as texting. Location tracking on smart devices, whether a phone, tablet, or AirTag, allows an abuser or stalker to use digital means to track their victim’s movements. Sexual exploitation, particularly of minors, takes place through digital media platforms that children and adolescents regularly use. A serial abuser of children has access to thousands of victims through social media pages. In this workshop, psychologists, licensed mental health professionals, medical professionals, and ministry leaders will learn to identify those who have been victims of digital sexual abuse or harassment and acquire the legal means to protect a victim. Participants will also learn how to help churches and parents teach church members and children about these digital abuses and how to protect themselves online.
202 | The Power of the Past and Present: Treating Addicts and Partners Through Family Systems and Trauma Approaches
Often both addicts and partners are at a loss about the deeper forces at work in their lives and relationships. Understanding the wounds from negative family of origin experiences and traumas, and identifying their impact, are critical pieces of recovery, healthy living, and a healthy relationship with God. For addicts, this understanding helps connect the dots between earlier experiences and the unhealthy coping method of choice, whether substances or behavioral addictions. For partners of addicts, the impact of prior trauma is often overlooked, while the focus is (understandably) on the pain of betrayal, especially regarding sexual addiction. Almost always, these core wounds have been activated and exacerbated by the addict’s behavior and betrayal, which is a complicating factor for the partner’s healing. This presentation describes family systems theory as foundational for working with addicts and partners and demonstrates how a systems approach combines with constructs like polyvagal theory to deepen healing. The workshop also illustrates some practical, experiential techniques that licensed mental health professionals and ministry leaders can use to allow the people of God to experience more fully the healing of God.
203 | Blessed and Highly Favored: Understanding the Importance of Faith, the Church and the Pastor When Supporting the African-American Grief Process
The grief process for African-Americans can be complicated and challenging. Research suggests that many African-Americans seek psychological support from their pastors rather than seek formal mental health services (Avent et al., 2015; Hays, 2015; Stansbury, Harley, King, Nelson & Speight, 2012). Thus, many will rely on their faith, the Church, and their pastor to navigate this process (Hovey et al., 2014; Webb et al., 2011). This session will therefore examine the importance of the African-American client’s faith, their church, and the pastor’s role in supporting a congregant through the grief process aided by psychologists or licensed mental health professionals.
In medical terms, the world is shifting from a pandemic to an endemic after COVID. The mental health consequences of this 100-year phenomenon continue to reverberate in the collective societal psyche, as well as within the hearts and minds of individuals finding their way to treatment amid the “new normal.” This workshop, for psychologists, licensed mental health professionals, medical professionals, and ministry leaders, will look at the altered psychological landscape and its implications for trends in suicide and self-harm, as well as prevention strategies for children, adolescents, and adults. And, tragically, when well-meaning interventions fail and prevention strategies prove insufficient, this workshop will also outline a pathway to postvention, the emotional release necessary for those tragically linked to the trauma of suicide, whether attempted or realized.
Pornography, adultery, addictions, and abuse destroy safety and trust in a marriage. If possible, licensed mental health professionals and ministry leaders want to see a broken marriage reconciled. But what are the specific steps necessary to rebuild shattered trust? What therapeutic mile markers indicate clients are on the right path to rebuilding that trust? Reconciliation is far deeper than forgiveness. Forgiveness is just the first step. Genuine healing reconciliation must also involve repairing the trust that was damaged. In this workshop, the presenter will define the six areas in which trust can degenerate in a marriage and how reliving the past can hurt the future health of the marriage. Participants will also learn four specific steps to walk couples through to help reconcile the marriage and create a more trusting relationship.
Many clients lack confidence in negotiating a rich sexual relationship and hold to false myths that keep them repressed. Recent research not only points to current sexual norms in married couples but also to internal stances that help enrich marital sexuality. Participants will explore data from the largest nationally representative dyadic study of marital sexuality, providing current national norms to counter common myths. This data also lays a foundation for exploring three internal stances significantly correlated with an enriched marriage and sexual intimacy. These internal stances and techniques will be explored to assist licensed mental health professionals in helping clients make them a part of their lives and relationships.
207 | Revolutionary Marriage Tools: SYMBIS, Loveology, and Better Love Featuring the Five Love Languages
Whether you are new to marriage ministry/counseling or have been doing it for years, this workshop will equip you with powerful and proven tools for helping the couples in your care. Learn about the innovative and free Loveology resource that can add value to your efforts at every turn. Discover the powerfully updated Better Love Assessment and its new way of using the Five Love Languages. And, of course, the proven SYMBIS Assessment and how it can help you effectively work with couples at any age or stage.
208 | Hope for Sexual Intimacy: An Emotionally-focused Approach to Healing Sexual Cycles of Conflict in Marriage
Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy is an evidence-based treatment model that has demonstrated effectiveness in improving both the emotional and sexual connection in couples. A couple’s Negative Cycle is the primary barrier to emotional and sexual intimacy. Negative Sexual Cycles may pose a confusing challenge in couples’ work because sometimes an emotionally avoidant spouse functions as a sexual pursuer. This can give a misleading appearance about the levels of accessibility of the spouses. The pathway to healing is still the same, and it involves engaging both spouses in sharing their vulnerable feelings surrounding their sexual and emotional connection. This presentation is for psychologists and licensed mental health professionals who want more clarity and effectiveness in deepening the intimacy of their couple clients by specifically working on the emotions and needs that couples have within their sexual connection.
In the not-too-distant past, understanding teens and doing life with adult children seemed easier and much simpler. Today’s Gen Z and Millennials have been raised in a vastly different culture than previous generations, and many reject their parents’ morals and values. According to recent Barna research, many are straying from faith, with twice as many atheists in Gen Z than Millennials. Many parents, church leaders, and counselors are baffled by the choices this generation is making about key issues in their lives. In this workshop, ministry leaders will become students of this generation’s perspective and look for practical ways to help teens and young adults navigate this culture with practical ways to become responsible adults who love God and make good decisions.
Ministry leaders have long recognized that changes in culture affect mental health. This is especially true for those who have only known life through a digital framework and lens: developing adolescents and emerging adults. The “Cultural Pivot” describes five cultural and social environmental shifts that have affected everyone, especially young people, in ways that impact how they think about themselves and relate to one another. Specifically, five shifts have been noted, youth and young adults live as virtual selves, are mosaic versus linear thinkers, experience life as transactional, feel increasingly isolated, and have never been lonelier. This work explores these five cultural shifts, examines their impact, and provides therapeutic, pastoral, workplace, and parental skills and strategies to promote relational understanding and connection for those seeking to make a difference in young people’s lives. This workshop particularly applies to a coach, pastor, pastoral counselor, or lay counselor.
Why do so many Christian leaders and Christians who sit in pews Sunday after Sunday demonstrate so little of the character that set Christ apart from the spiritual leaders of His day? Dallas Willard maintains that the answer is to be found in the fact that the contemporary Church is producing Christians and not disciples. Dallas contends that the gap between simply being a Christian and becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ may be closed by paying attention to the practice of the spiritual disciplines. In this workshop, licensed mental health professionals and ministry leaders will consider why neurotheologians like Jay Wilder believe that the practice of the disciplines alone is insufficient for developing Christlike character within Christian clients. The presenter will discuss the desire to add to the disciplines a commitment to soteriology (the theology of salvation) of attachment and the use of insights advanced by neuroscientists in their work with clients seeking growth in spiritual, emotional, and relational maturity.
212 | A New Lens for Transformational Change: The Intersection of Counseling and Spiritual Formation
Since effective counseling involves second-order change, and both second-order change and spiritual formation involve addressing the assumptive worlds of Christian clients, then facilitating this deep change provides an avenue where counseling and spiritual formation intersect and potentially intertwine. Using Jesus as an example, this workshop examines His ministry through the lens of second-order change, focusing on the transformative wisdom of His assumptive world. From investigating the distinctiveness of Jesus’ epistemological assumptions to analyzing His change tactics, both the content and process of second-order change will be discussed with an eye to what research findings support. Psychologists and licensed mental health professionals will give attention to how the conventional wisdom of culture compares to the transformative wisdom of Jesus, emphasizing how facilitating a shift from the former to the latter constitutes second-order change and fosters spiritual formation. Additionally, how this process can be conducted in an ethical manner applicable to all clients, whether or not they identify as Christian, will be considered.
One in five adults experiences mental illness every year, yet fewer than half of those receive treatment. Mental health problems affect people from all walks of life—no one is immune from psychological distress. Although mental illness is common, those who suffer often feel too ashamed to seek help. This can ultimately have devastating consequences—mental illness lessens an individual’s quality of life and can result in suicide. This practical workshop for ministry leaders will describe how to create a safe environment within a church community for those struggling with mental illness, develop safe and effective situational responses, and build a network to quickly connect those in distress to professional care.
214 | Christ-centered Internal Family Systems Therapy: How to Develop Healthy Boundaries for Your Soul
Painful burdens can hold people back from building the lives they want to live. This workshop for licensed mental health professionals and ministry leaders teaches how to apply key techniques for teaching Christian clients to befriend parts of the soul weighed down with unwanted thoughts and feelings, using a Christian approach to the fast-growing, evidence-based, Internal Family Systems Model of psychotherapy (IFS). Participants will learn to use the “Five Steps of Taking a You-Turn” (based on the IFS model) to help clients develop healthy boundaries and secure attachments with parts of their souls carrying challenging thoughts and feelings. Through didactic teaching, a guided exercise, and a demo, attendees will learn to empower their clients to cultivate what IFS describes as “self-leadership” with their souls’ parts. Clients do not have to be overwhelmed by their thoughts and feelings; they can learn to lead their thoughts and feelings, guided by the Spirit of God.
This session discusses the role of evidence-based assessment in clinical practice from a faith-integrative perspective to aid psychologists, licensed mental health professionals, and medical professionals when working with Christian clients. Current definitions of evidence-based assessment (EBA) and practice (EBP) are first considered. A Christian reflection on EBA and EBP is offered that finds theological and biblical warrant for the evidence-based paradigm with some caveats. EBA is both a guide and precursor to intervention and the type of intervention itself. The iterative form and approaches to EBA appropriate for each stage of practice, from intake to termination, will be examined. Examples of existing EBA tools and strategies pertinent to implicitly and explicitly integrative Christian practice are reviewed. The session concludes by applying current Christian integrative EVA approaches or tools to clinical scenarios to facilitate integrative EVP.
Dissociative symptoms often go undetected by psychologists, licensed mental health professionals, and medical professionals. Knowledge of how dissociative symptoms present in clients with PTSD dissociative subtype, Complex PTSD, Dissociative Identity Disorder, Anxiety Disorders, Food and Eating Disorders, and Substance Use Disorders, can be of immense help in detecting possible trauma, even if the client is unaware of a trauma history. This workshop will examine the DSM-5-TR dissociative symptoms of dissociative amnesia, depersonalization/derealization, identity confusion, and identity alteration. The BASK model of dissociation, which is an acronym for Behavior (B), Affect (A), Sensation (S), and Knowledge (K), will also be presented. Information will be delivered on how therapists can use dissociation to help clients contain intrusive trauma symptoms, such as flashbacks, overwhelming emotions, nightmares, and more, and how it can aid in trauma processing.
Over the past two decades, the addiction field has become increasingly evidence-based in its approach to treating problems on the addiction spectrum. From guided self-change to medical detoxification and medication-assisted treatment, evidence for “what works for whom in which circumstances” has not only accumulated but also coalesced and differentiated along the addiction spectrum, including substance-related and addictive disorders. This session reviews current evidence-based treatment for substance and behavioral addiction difficulties to help psychologists, other licensed mental health professionals, medical professionals, and ministry leaders implement best practices when working with those seeking help with addiction-related challenges.
Over the past several decades, evidence-based research has enabled psychologists, other mental health professionals, and ministry leaders to aim their interventions with the bereaved in a far more effective and knowledgeable manner than in the past. Although popular culture sometimes seems to cling to utilizing a stage or phase approach, the research clearly supports a more prescriptive goal-oriented framework to address several essential grief components. These goals aid in developing an intentional and active grief journey toward reconstructing one’s life following the death of a loved one. To that end, this workshop will present a number of evidence-based components necessary for a griever to understand in order to create a newly reconstructed solid platform leading toward a mentally and spiritually satisfying life. Several specific activities and interventions will be presented that can help clients move forward in reconstructing their lives.
Despite the increase in children and teenagers seeking mental health treatment, rates of non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) are on the rise, with approximately one in seven teenagers having had an NSSI episode in the past 12 months. Though not directly correlated, NSSI can strongly predict future suicide ideation. In this workshop, psychologists, licensed mental health professionals, medical professionals, and ministry leaders will explore the subtle warning signs of NSSI, discuss the complexity of root causes, and provide actionable and practical tools to support both the teenager and parent.
Sexual norms continue to change in today’s culture. Like menus aimed at “having it your way,” the Internet, social media, smartphones, and virtual sex at the click of a finger have created fast sexual fixes that are destroying families. Today’s pornography is steeped in violations of sex, human dignity, and an abuse of power that is changing the way people treat others. In this workshop for licensed mental health professionals, the presenter will reveal common reactions to how one’s sexuality becomes wounded as a result of betrayal trauma, including sexual violation, abuse, and marital rape. A clear line of demarcation between healthy sexuality and unhealthy sexuality will be revealed, as well as hope for restoration for the betrayer and the betrayed. The presenter will describe the Five Phase Betrayal Recovery Roadmap,™ a couple-centered recovery path that includes restoring safety and truth. It is only then that individuals have the best chance toward relational integrity and sexual healing.
106 | Effectively Identifying and Treating Unconsummated Marriages: Healing for Those Suffering in Silence
The presenters will bring their almost 48 years of experience to the subject of identifying and treating unconsummated marriages and how they have become a safe resource and effective facilitators for couples who have suffered in silence with unconsummated marriages. Shame, guilt, embarrassment, and lack of adequate information often keep couples from sharing with their families, close friends, and even mental health and medical professionals about their inability to have intercourse until they are desperate to be able to have children. In this workshop, the presenters will describe how to effectively assess, identify, and understand the barriers to consummation. Further, psychologists, licensed mental health providers, and ministry leaders will learn how to assist or find the resources to assist couples in overcoming the issues that interfere with consummation and move to a complete and fulfilling sexual experience within marriage.
In the U.S., there are nearly 2,000 divorces per day. Furthermore, regardless of the denomination, 24% of married people who are active members of a church report struggling in their marriages, yet these struggles are wide and varying. In this workshop, licensed mental health professionals and ministry leaders will learn how to help support Christian couples who desperately need encouragement and accountability during a difficult season of crisis. Participants will learn how to walk alongside couples in crisis based on the teachings from the Hope Restored marriage intensive program. For the past 20 years, more than 11,000 couples in crisis have attended this marriage “emergency room,” and over 80% of those couples have stayed together. Participants will be able to demonstrate therapeutic tools to help couples in crisis.
108 | Staying in the Furnace Without Getting Burned: Attending to Intense Emotional Conflict in Couples
This workshop will bring findings from recent research showing how psychologists, licensed mental health professionals, pastors, and marriage coaches can help couples redirect emotional intensity, such as anger, despair, and hopelessness, toward relational intimacy and stability. This session will lead participants through a progressive model. The first focus is on helping couples form a common hope when they typically push against collaborating. The second focus is learning to reframe defensive/offensive actions that stalemate couples from goal attainment. The third focus is implementing relational grace to work through impasses by identifying individual interests, which run parallel to couples’ goals. This workshop focuses on the integration of two popular and successful approaches to treating couples in counseling ministries, which are the Sells & Yarhouse (2011) Counseling Couples in Conflict (the Grace Model) and the Ripley and Worthington (2015) Couple Therapy: A New Hope-focused Approach Hope Model (the Hope Model). This combination of two models is to aid participants in their work in therapy with Christian clients and ministry. Resources, including videos and workbooks, will be made available to participants.
In blended families, the rules are different, but the majority of dating and engaged couples walk into their wedding with both eyes shut; a full 75% of couples forming blended families get no premarital counseling at all—and those that do usually receive the same counseling a couple marrying for the first time would receive. Licensed mental health professionals, marriage coaches, and ministry leaders alike have the opportunity to help heal previous attachment injuries and equip couples and children for successful stepfamily living. Still, they must understand competing emotional attachments, loss and loyalty issues in children, parenting across multiple households, and the ambiguous relational dynamics of stepfamilies. In addition, the structure of pre-stepfamily counseling must vary from traditional premarital counseling. In this workshop, participants will learn how to help couples have realistic expectations in marriage, work through past hurts and losses to not bring them into the new marriage, and aid the couple in bonding with children in the stepfamily. Specific interventions for these types of families will be discussed.
110 | Developmentally Appropriate Treatment of Childhood Trauma: The Evidence-based Use of Play Therapy
Psychotherapy with traumatized children must be developmentally appropriate. To use “adult therapy” with children is not only ineffective but also dishonoring. It is imperative to consider the encompassing psychological and neurobiological effects of trauma on children, as traumatized children need a therapeutic experience that is physically, emotionally, relationally, and spiritually secure. Play therapy provides this, as it is developmentally appropriate, well-researched, and evidence-based. This workshop will explore the pervasive effects of trauma, the benefits of play therapy and identify who would benefit from this type of therapy, and supportive research for the basis for using play therapy with traumatized child clients. This workshop will aid psychologists, licensed mental health professionals, medical professionals, and ministry leaders in understanding play therapy and how it can be utilized with children.
The Bible illustrates and addresses the nature of anxiety and the call to live godly lives of hope and faith. How, then, should Christians deal with stress and anxiety in their lives, and how can ministry leaders and coaches bring God’s healing word to the subject? In this workshop, the differences between healthy and unhealthy anxiety will be explored, along with a study of biblical references and recent research on hope and the role of spiritual faith in the field of effective counseling. Insights and contributions from the historic church will be explored, with practical examples of pastoral care and counseling that provide guidance for Christian counselors. A number of biblically-based counseling approaches and strategies will be examined that address ways to help people who struggle with stress and anxiety. Discussion will focus on building faith and hope within the context of Christian counseling and how pastoral counselors, lay counselors, and coaches can incorporate these dimensions from a biblical perspective.
112 | Dealing with Spiritual Struggles in Psychotherapy: Empirical Evidence and Clinical Applications from a Christian Perspective
This workshop will cover dealing with spiritual struggles in psychotherapy, based on the Pargament and Exline (2022) book, Working with Spiritual Struggles in Psychotherapy: From Research to Practice (see also Tan, 2022c). The six major spiritual struggles that will be analyzed in this workshop are divine struggles, demonic struggles, interpersonal spiritual struggles, struggles with doubt, moral struggles, and struggles of ultimate meaning. The empirical evidence for spiritual struggles and how they can affect mental health, and effective clinical interventions for helping clients deal with spiritual struggles will be reviewed (Pargament & Exline,2022), with appropriate ethical guidelines (Tan, 2003) for how psychologists, licensed mental health professionals, medical professionals, and ministry leaders can effectively intervene in this area of life with their Christian clients. A Christian perspective on dealing with the spiritual struggles of Christian clients, with informed consent, will be described (Tan, 2022a, 2022b, 2022c). The empirical evidence for the effectiveness of religious and spiritual therapies, including Christian therapies, will also be mentioned (Captari et al., 2018; Marques et al., 2022; see also Pargament & Exline, 2022).
113 | How to Create a Healthy Congregation: The Role of Emotional and Relational Intelligence in the Church Culture
If God’s purpose of church leaders is to help their people “become conformed to the Image of His Son,” then what might that look like? What does it mean to “grow in Christ” and become a “mature” Christian? What impact should sanctification have on the moods, behaviors, and thought patterns of church members? What might Christlikeness look like in the emotional, relational, mental, and spiritual lives of those who attend church? Starting with a sound biblical and theological foundation, this workshop will look at specific and very practical ways that the emerging science of Emotional and Relational Intelligence (ERQ) and recent developments in Interpersonal Neurobiology can help ministry leaders more effectively impact their congregation in the process of looking, living and loving more like our Lord Jesus Christ, and better fulfill the clarion call of Christ in John 12:34-35.
Human beings are developed and shaped experientially by lived experiences. At times, cognitive-behavioral therapy and other therapies cannot fully engage the emotions that were activated at the time the wound was experienced. Process-experiential counseling can bring emotions and their associated action tendencies into awareness. Experiential techniques include many methods to foster therapeutic experiences, bypass client defenses, and engage emotions through creative approaches. Techniques for psychologists and licensed mental health professionals, including creating an experience by using expressive activities, evocative methods, role-plays, chair-work, arts/crafts, props, play therapy, and process-oriented work, will be explained in this workshop. Process-experiential therapeutic work is appropriate for clients of any age and for most presenting concerns.
The focus of this workshop is to briefly review the research on religion and mental health, discuss why evidence-based treatments in Christian mental healthcare are important, examine the limitations of randomized clinical trials (RCTs) and challenges involved in conducting them to provide an evidence-base for Christian therapies and illustrate evidence-based Christian therapies now being used. The presenter will also address treatments for “moral injury” in Veterans, active-duty military suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, and non-military populations. There will be ample time for participants to ask questions and discuss issues surrounding evidence-based treatments in Christian counseling, why they are needed, issues related to conducting RCTs, evaluating the results of RCTs conducted by others, and how to apply them to clinical practice. This workshop has both clinical and research-based relevance and utility to licensed mental health professionals, including counselors and psychologists, as well as to other health professionals and clergy (particularly VA and military chaplains).
Speaking about psychological struggles as chemical imbalances or as disorders of neurotransmitter systems is common in today’s culture, but this is a folk metaphor more than a scientific conclusion. Although individuals’ brains are involved when they struggle, mental health problems cannot be reduced to disorders of the brain or neural circuits, partly because psychological struggles often reflect challenges and difficulties in one’s external world. Furthermore, while describing mental illness as a chemical imbalance may decrease shame and self-blame, it may also increase pessimism about recovery, harm social connections, devalue the therapeutic alliance, hinder self-exploration, and reduce client engagement in therapy. In this workshop for psychologists, licensed mental health professionals, and medical professionals, a psychiatrist will discuss practical strategies for speaking with clients and their prescribers about medication in a way that avoids reductionism. The presenter will also explore how St. Thomas Aquinas’ image of the human as a wayfarer and his faith-based view of the emotions of the body-soul relationship offer a holistic way to understand both when medications are appropriate and evaluate their effects for faith-based clients.
What happens to the brain as our clients age? Many clients of psychologists, licensed mental health professionals, medical professionals, and ministry leaders are concerned that they may lose their memories and become senile. Clients often want to know if there are choices they can make to protect their brains from the ravages of time. In this presentation, participants will examine which mental and physical risk factors can increase one’s risk for dementia later in life. Participants will also discover evidence-based lifestyle factors and non-pharmacological interventions which will protect clients’ brains and diminish their risk of dementia.
118 | Navigating the Chaos: Strategies to Use with Family Members Who Have Borderline or Narcissistic Traits
Despite repeated attempts to get family members with borderline or narcissistic personality disorder symptoms to follow reasonable boundaries, understand, and be empathetic, they do not comply, which continues an upsetting cycle. The result is often depression, anger, and a desire to cut off the problematic relationship. This workshop will present several theories explaining personality disorder symptoms and techniques to help family members deal with repeated adverse emotional and behavioral patterns and manipulation. Whereas the workshop strategies and techniques can apply to all types of family relationships, such as between spouses, the workshop will highlight: 1) adult children dealing with problematic parents; and 2) parents dealing with difficult adult children (or difficult adult daughter/son-in-law situations). This workshop provides helpful principles, techniques, and methods that are loving and effective to help psychologists, licensed mental health professionals, and ministry leaders assist their clients.
Clergy-forced termination could be considered a modern-day epidemic. Although it is difficult to obtain an accurate count, it is estimated that at least 25% of clergy will experience forced termination in their careers (Barfoot et al. 2005; Tanner et al. 2012). Perhaps even more telling is the impact forced termination has on the lives of the minister, the minister’s family, the church, and the community. In this workshop, the presenters will explore the spiritual and emotional reactions to forced termination on clergy and their family members. Licensed mental health professionals and ministry leaders will be able to identify the factors that could have created the forced termination to help the client grow and learn from the situation.
Christianity has always recognized that the fallen human soul is divided (Ps. 42:6; Jer. 17:9; Rom. 7; Eph. 4:22-24; Ja. 1:8), and it has always looked to Jesus Christ as the ultimate, transcendent source of the healing of that division through the gift of His peace (Jn. 14:27; Col. 3:15). One example of internal division is a distinct quality of consciousness, characterized by its own affective tone and purposive agenda that gets activated in stressful contexts resembling those within which it was formed. This psychological structure has been called a “part,” “false self,” or “internal critic,” depending on the approach. Many strategies facilitate the integration of the self by lessening the negative emotion that maintains this structure and greater conscious awareness and acceptance. In this workshop, psychologists and licensed mental health professionals will explore distinctly Christian integrative strategies from the Christian tradition that can be utilized when working with Christian clients, including gratitude, forgiveness, the “new self,” and communion with God. Some experiential processes will be demonstrated.