Countdown to Connection - Making the Choice to Grow Professionally

Countdown to Connection: Making the Choice to Grow Professionally

Vagdevi Meunier, Psy.D.

When I was in graduate school in the 1980s and 90s, my professors often encouraged us to become members of a national professional association such as AAMFT, APA, NASW, etc. The cost to be a student member was relatively small and the benefits seemed many. Once or twice a year, the same professors also urged us to present at national association conferences or attend them. I remember my first experience of large annual convention: 15,000 people in the same city, dozens of choices for workshops and trainings, pre- and postconvention workshops, receptions galore, and of course hobnobbing with the elite and hanging out with colleagues and friends from around the world. It was an amazing experience. As a student I was not that concerned with getting the right CEs or furthering my clinical practice, I was just happy to hear the greats speak.

In the new millennium, things have changed on many levels. Many of the greats we could hear speak at large conferences are now retired or no longer with us. Some of the emerging thought leaders are not yet that well known. And at the same time, the large convention experience has completely changed. My last large convention was highlighted by more political squabbling and controversy than by the great lectures and workshops. The costs associated with attending these conferences have also become prohibitive.

At the same time, in this new century, we have seen the growth of a new breed of conferences. Thematic, clinically oriented and practical educational experiences are more sought after. Professionals are no longer willing to spend time and money to attend a professional association conference to hear professors and their students talk about their research. It is not that these are not very interesting, but the value add for clinical practitioners is in hearing about clinical research or approaches that have a direct relevance to their practice the week following the conference. Also emerging are workshops and conferences where one can see video samples of master clinicians or have pragmatic, ground level techniques and tools that professionals can use or monetize in their businesses. Most of all, clinical professionals are eager to hear panel discussions or dialogues between contrasting models or approaches so they can walk away with a sense of how to integrate multiple theories and models in their client work.

In the context of high value clinical training and experience, the Creating Connections Conference stands out as a gem. With an affordable entrance fee, opportunities to hear cutting edge research presented with a clinical application focus, panel discussions and dialogues and debates between different presenters, and a concentrated focus on one consistent thematic framework: Attachment Theory being explored and articulated by multiple presenters, this conference promises educational and professional nourishment on many levels. Attachment theory and research is one of the ubiquitous academic meta-frameworks that all helping professionals will want to be informed about in order to make sense of their clients’ complex emotional lives. This year, Creating Connections 2016 brings this wealth of goodness to your backdoor, Washington DC. Months before a historic election season, when connection needs to be proclaimed from the rooftops, professionals from all helping professions will be able to gather, network, dialogue, and thought-munch on cutting edge ideas and information that will likely transform how we see ourselves as healers. Creating Connections 2016 is a conference not to be missed. Hope to see you there!

Vagdevi Meunier, Psy.D., founder and Executive Director of the Austin-based The Center for Relationships, is a licensed clinical psychologist, writer, and Master Trainer for the Gottman Institute and National Marriage Seminars. Follow her on Facebook at The Center for Relationships and on Twitter @TCFRAustin