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The Symposium Top Ten: A Look at the Ideas Shaping Psychotherapy Today

Rich SimonBy Rich Simon If you’re like me, polls and national surveys are one of your guilty pleasures. They’re an irresistible short-cut to figuring out the mindsets, interests, preoccupations and, often, the anxieties of larger chunks of humanity than most of us would otherwise encounter beyond the small circle of the people in our day-to-day world.

Part of what makes this time of year leading up to the Networker Symposium so fascinating is seeing what’s hot and what’s not among the 175 sessions we’ll offer at this year’s Symposium, Engaging the Emotional Brain, March 20-23 in Washington, D.C. As I watch the registrations pour in, I get to see the workshops that people are most drawn to. It’s like an annual survey that reveals the trends, new ideas, and leading figures that are the most current and compelling in the world of psychotherapy.

To get a taste of what this informal poll says about the things that matter now to our profession, take a look at the top 10 workshops so far for the 2014 Symposium:

#10 Embracing the Disowned Self with Janina Fisher

How do you help a client whose self-loathing, shame and inner sense of worthlessness makes them immune to whatever acceptance or positive regard you may have to offer them? Attendees have been drawn to learning more about trauma expert Janina Fisher’s body-based approach that redefines shame as a psychobiological survival strategy and allows them to reclaim parts of their disowned selves.

#9 Healing from the Bottom Up with Peter Levine

Somatic approaches seem especially popular this year. One of the most popular sessions features an introduction to Somatic Experiencing by its developer Peter Levine that helps clients move beyond trauma to learn how to access safety and positive resource states instead of repeatedly experiencing threats that no longer exist.

#8 Unlocking the Emotional Brain with Bruce Ecker and Sara Bridges

Recent discoveries in neuroscience have revealed that a process called “memory reconsolidation” may be the key to making deep transformation happen. The authors of a much-discussed  cover story in the recent issue of the Psychotherapy Networker magazine will demonstrate “Coherence Therapy,” a method that purports to offer a reliable pathway to achieving therapeutic breakthroughs with even the most stuck clients.

#7 Undoing Aloneness with Diana Fosha

Symposium featured speaker  Diana Fosha, the developer of Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy (AEDP) offers a range of precise experiential methods that facilitate moment-to-moment connection with clients. Here’s an increasingly popular approach that brings together traditional psychodynamic elements with the latest advances in mindfulness, trauma treatment and positive psychology.

#6 Ethics Made Fun with Clifton Mitchell

Apparently getting ethics CE credits does not have to be a matter of just eating your spinach. Once again, Clifton Mitchell will be exploring the often ambiguous landscape of ethics codes and boundary issues using a lively and entertaining game show format that regularly draws rave reviews from Symposium audiences.

#5 Advances and Challenges in Couples Therapy with David Schnarch, Pat Love, Harville Hendrix, Helen LaKelly Hunt, and Terry Real

Last year we introduced a TED Talk-style format to the Symposium to great acclaim. This year we’re offering a series of Flash Forums, a collection of four 20-minute, TED Talk-style presentations by noted innovators within four different practice specialties. Here a group of celebrated couples therapists answer the provocative question “What’s the most important new idea or discovery shaping your practice with couples today?”  Here’s your chance to learn what the cutting edge of couples therapy looks like.

#4 Myths of the Teen Brain with Dan Siegel

Brainstorm, Dan Siegel’s latest book has climbed to #4  on the New York Times best seller list by challenging the conventional wisdom about adolescent brain development and offering a new model of how to connect with teens. Here’s chance to see what one of the Symposium’s most popular presenters has to say about what adults can learn from adolescents about creativity and enhancing the intensity of their own lives.

#3 Neuroscience and Positivity with Barbara Fredrickson and Dan Siegel

Positive psychology researcher Barbara Fredrickson’s research challenges our limited notions of love as defined by romance and marriage. In this workshop, Fredrickson and Dan Siegel collaborate to explore how understanding the micro-moments of connection and mutuality underlying positive experience can be used in the consulting room to  help clients enhance their resilience and feel more tenderness, warmth, and compassion.

#2 Hardwiring Happiness with Rick Hanson

One of this year’s most popular presenters is keynoter Rick Hanson who has devoted himself to showing how therapy’s traditional focus on distressing emotions often  reinforces our built-in “negativity bias,” the brain’s tendency to focus on avoiding potentially threatening experiences and viewing good experiences as a kind of Teflon. Learn the keys to helping clients convert transitory positive moments into enduring positive attitudes and traits.

#1 When Talk Isn’t Enough with Bessel van der Kolk

As a profession, psychotherapy seems poised on a shift from a primary reliance on talk as the chief vehicle for promoting change to an interest in methods that require us to be more directly present, more expressive, more dynamic in the therapeutic encounter than ever before. Here trauma pioneer Bessel van der Kolk explores how to bring synergies among neuroscience, artistic expression, revitalizing emotional experience and psychotherapy directly into your practice. So far, his Sunday session is the most popular workshop at this year’s meeting.

In the weeks ahead, I’m looking forward to learning even more about what stirs psychotherapists’ souls these days as Symposium registrations continue to pour in. But if you want to go beyond just hearing about what ideas and new methods are animating our field these days and actually experience this extraordinary learning opportunity first hand, now is the time to register and sign up for your favorite workshops before space runs out.

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6 Responses to The Symposium Top Ten: A Look at the Ideas Shaping Psychotherapy Today

  1. Larsen BARNDS says:

    Will these be recorded and be available to buy?

  2. kokopelli says:

    As your #1 session suggests, I am delighted to find artistic expression (long known to be a primary agent of promotong psychoneuroimmunological hardiness)its due. And I would strongly suggest–and thank you for–further explorations of such, as you already demonstrate brave faith and interest in in your Creativity Day offerings.

  3. JoAnn Berns says:

    Am I correct in understanding that the 6 most popular workshops will become the ones presented in the ballrooms, for which one does not have to have pre-registered? Thanks.

  4. indigobunting says:

    That is generally how it works. These are called “Open workshops” and they are formally identified and posted on the website after the last savings deadline which is coming up soon–Midnight, Monday February 24th.



  5. John McDonagh says:

    Regarding “Unlocking the Emotional Brain,” I would like to know whether practicum exercises will be included.

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