Magazine article Family Therapy Networker

NETWORKER NEWS; Shaping the Future of Psychotherapy: New Opportunities for Growth and Service

Magazine article Family Therapy Networker

NETWORKER NEWS; Shaping the Future of Psychotherapy: New Opportunities for Growth and Service

Article excerpt

Changes in science, society and the therapy profession itself are happening so quickly, on so many fronts, that therapists are being challenged to radically rethink what they do in ways hardly imagined even 10 years ago. The explosive impact of cybernetics and communications, neurobiology and genetics, bio-engineering is already reflected in the nature of problems clients now bring into therapy, problems unknown to previous generations of therapists. How, for example, should a clinician guide parents, like those in Minneapolis, in deciding whether to grow a genetically correct infant in order to save its fatally ill sibling? And if the range and speed of scientific change is altering the lives of clients in ways clinicians are only beginning to understand, new trends in the therapy profession itself are rapidly changing the rules and expectations of daily practice. Even the century-old identity of therapist as someone between a doctor and a priest treating different kinds of pathology or soul sickness is being confronted by the "positive psychology" movement, which exhorts therapists to become more like coaches or teachers, helping people learn the skills for living better lives and discovering their own healthy inner optimist.

With all these tectonic shifts in our professional world, it would be a rare therapist who didn't feel a desire to see into the future. Luckily, help is on the way and, as always in times of professional dislocation or crisis, it comes from the collective wisdom, common sense and good cheer of our own colleagues--the thousands of therapists who have thought hard enough to come up with some practical solutions and inspiring ways to think about even the most daunting professional dilemmas. This year's symposium, "Shaping the Future of Psychotherapy: New Opportunities for Growth and Service," March 29 - April 1, 2000, in Washington, D.C., will be a stimulating four-day festival of learning and enlightenment, foretelling not only what therapists can expect from 21st-century practice, but how they can actively shape the future for themselves, their clients and the next generation of clinicians. In more than 100 clinical workshops and plenary sessions, veteran therapists and theorists, innovators and role models will explore the frontiers of practice--including the interface between therapy and genetics, cybernetics and brain science. Presenters will discuss how therapists can help families deal with the destructive impact of cybernetic technology--computers, faxes, cell phones, pagers, PDAs and the like--over the next decades and how therapists can deal with the vastly complex ethical and clinical dilemmas raised by genetic research and reproductive technology. Workshops will also focus on the clinical issues raised by the impact of brain chemistry and genetics on behavior and mood. In addition, attendees will have an opportunity to learn more about what's being called the "new medicine," which blends 21st-century science with alternative healing practices like acupuncture, meditation, yoga, self-hypnosis, guided imagery and group support. Perennial everyday concerns for therapists will also be addressed in workshops about the changing directions of managed care, antidotes for burnout and practical methods for renewal and innovation. Most of all, in the atmosphere of intellectual conviviality--the shmooze factor that is the conference's hallmark--attendees can engage in the kind of ongoing dialogue with colleagues and individual soul-searching that will help them clarify a personal sense of mission, deepen their commitment to an ideal of service and sharpen their own self-confidence. …

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