Magazine article Psychotherapy Networker

Networker News, Stepping into the Moment-Really!: The 2007 Symposium Theme Comes Alive

Magazine article Psychotherapy Networker

Networker News, Stepping into the Moment-Really!: The 2007 Symposium Theme Comes Alive

Article excerpt

face=+Bold; Networker News face=-Bold; By Garry Cooper

 face=+Bold; Stepping into the Moment--Really!face=+Italic; face=-Italic; face=-Bold; face=+Italic; The 2007 Symposium theme comes aliveface=-Italic;

At 3:00 a.m. on the last night of the Psychotherapy Network's 30th-Anniversary Symposium, fire alarms and flashing lights went off in every one of the Omni Shoreham's 834 rooms, and the record number of attendees--nearly 3,600 of them--were ordered to evacuate. Many of the bleary-eyed throngs somnambulating through the Omni's ornate lobby during what Networker President Rich Simon described the next morning as the "Symposium's first pajama party" might ruefully have noted the irony of a symposium titled "Stepping into the Moment."

The false alarm was the last of a series of events that added unexpected resonance to the Symposium's theme. A spring ice and snow storm closed several East Coast airports, preventing some workshop presenters and Saturday dinner speaker Jerome Kagan from showing up. Saturday keynoter Daniel Goleman injured his leg and spent the day in an MRI tube instead of speaking on "Social Intelligence in the Consulting Room." But if the universe kept throwing curve balls, the Symposium's considerable bench strength met the challenge.

Pinch-hitting speakers like Daniel Siegel knocked the balls out of the park, while readings and book signings, nearly 150 workshops, free video screenings (including a tribute to Jay Haley), and other formal and informal events afforded plenty of opportunities for stimulation, new perspectives, and CE credits. By the end of the four days, the notion of stepping into the moment had opened into a richer awareness of what Simon called the "contingencies and blessings" of spontaneity and surprise.

The Symposium began with its traditional Thursday Creativity Day of 18 day-long workshops in which therapists were invited to write, chant, draw, meditate, play instruments, and generally delve into their untapped energies. Over the next four days, attendees experienced all the familiar parts of the conference: the 300 ubiquitous, red-hatted volunteers guiding people through the twists and turns of the elegant hotel, the audiovisual crews who never seem to miss a cue, Franco Richmond's jazz piano showering musical notes over every event, the Friday night dance in which participants exhibited an enthusiastic capacity for fun, and the kinds of workshops and activities for CEs that remind people that professional development needn't be drudgery.

On Friday morning, as the late-winter storm gathered on the East Coast, keynoters John and Julie Gottman presented an overview of their different approaches to working with couples. For years, John Gottman has put the interactions between couples under the laboratory microscope. He's made thousands of videotapes of couples communicating, and then he and his team have broken down their interchanges into discrete parts and checked their physiological levels of stress as they talked. These long-term studies have helped him predict with more than 90-percent accuracy which couples will stay together. Alternating with what her husband said about the specifics of how successful and unsuccessful couples interact, Julie Gottman talked about how therapists can step more intuitively into the moment, helping couples listen to hear their own--and their partner's--unrealized dreams beneath their conflicts. The Gottmans' conclusion: listening and compromising won't solve most conflicts, but it'll help couples stay focused on the reasons they've chosen each other and keep going. …

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