Back in Person at the Psychotherapy Networker Symposium!
It is the same time of the year in Washington, DC where the cherry blossoms are blooming, and the Psychotherapy Networker Symposium is once again in full force at the Omni Shoreham hotel! I was excited to be part of the annual gathering of psychotherapists from all over the world who attended the 46th annual Symposium this year. It turns out that there were twice as many people attending as the year before, which was— over 5,000 attendees! I was grateful to be back in person having the much-needed experience of, being back in community. It felt like I was home again.
I presented two workshops: The Craft of Treating Trauma: 3 Core Skills, and Relational EMDR Therapy℠ as a Transformational Journey: The Power of Attunement. The workshop on the three core skills covered some of the essentials of trauma treatment regardless of our modality: First, tracking the client’s experience moment-to-moment; second, helping the client negotiate between different parts of self; and third, helping the client develop a vision for a more hopeful future.
People who attended the workshop appreciated the practical, hands-on demonstration of the skills that they could apply to their clinical practice right away. We recorded the 2-hour session and plan to make it available very soon!
The second workshop was on Relational EMDR Therapy℠. It’s an introduction to working with clients who have attachment wounds and who need the real time experience of being in a secure attachment relationship with their therapist as part of their journey towards healing. I showed a clip of a client who was abused by her mother and, as a result, learned not to show up in the world or in relationships, not even to herself. The journey was about extending the invitation to allow herself to exist for the first time, reflecting my experience of her in the reprocessing session so she can feel into her sense of self. By the way, the memory we targeted was a teenage humiliation experience with peers that was the tipping point in her young life where she made the decision never to be shamed again.
Catching up. It was great to hear what other people are doing: Dick Schwartz and IFS, Bessel van der Kolk and his ever-evolving work in trauma, Tammy Nelson with her progressive ideas about couples and sex, and Lori Gottlieb and her wildly popular podcast, Dear Therapist. We actually sat in on a live podcast session where they were working with a client! My biggest takeaway from the weekend, however, was the wonderful opportunity to be in-person connecting with people that I would have otherwise not had a chance to talk to, catch up with, and, of course, network with!
The Exhibit Hall was a great place to see what’s out there in the field and talk to people about what they’re doing as well as good old fashion schmoozing, dancing, and eating day and night! In catching up with some fellow veteran Symposium presenters, there are some potential collaborations in the pipeline with Frank Anderson, IFS trainer, Tammy Nelson, owner of Integrative for Sex Therapy Institute, and another online course offering with PESI. While we all go to conferences to learn, it’s these “hallway” and “cocktail hour conversations” that made me feel part of something bigger and to share that experience with other colleagues and friends. I’m looking forward to more gatherings and in-person trainings in the months ahead where we can restore our need for connection as well as learn from one another.