The 2017 National Multicultural Conference and Summit (NMCS) celebrated its 10th anniversary this year and occurred from January 4th to 6th in Portland, Oregon. Also this year, the Society for the Advancement of Psychotherapy’s Diversity Committee was provided with funding for one member to attend NMCS. I was happy to attend this year as Chair of the Diversity Committee, representing the Division. The Division additionally provided $1,500 to NMCS as a sponsor, given its alignment with our Division’s long-term diversity efforts—which include increasing our presence at this great event.
The theme of NMCS this year was “looking back to look forward.” The programming this year was rich in a myriad of topics, including both presentations related to psychotherapists’ own experiences as persons from underrepresented and/or marginalized populations, as well as psychotherapists’ experiences in working with persons from underrepresented and/or marginalized populations. Highlights included an opening discussion with many of the original founders of NMCS as well as a closing discussion with multiple up-and-coming early career professionals (ECPs).
The organizers of NMCS do a great job including ECPs in their conference, ensuring that there is a pipeline for the future in this vital area. The wonderful, welcoming, and open culture of NMCS easily allows one to feel at home among others. This culture is explicitly emphasized to all attendees during the opening keynote presentation and then continued throughout the duration of the conference through other events like the “Breakfast with the Stars.” As an ECP, I had a particularly meaningful time at the Breakfast with the Stars event. The breakfast provides graduate students and ECPs the opportunity to meet and talk with those who are already settled in their careers. This is a wonderful example of the welcoming culture of NMCS: It breaks down hierarchy and provides a casual social event for all.
In addition to this, I attended multiple meaningful presentations on topics such as assessment with transgender persons, feminist conflict resolution, and the intersection of sexual orientation and race. In addition to presentations, NMCS also screens relevant films and holds many 2-hour “difficult dialogue” sessions in which facilitators and attendees are provided with a supportive space for in-depth discussion of hot issues. All of the events were well attended and CE credits were provided for many presentations. Members of our Division both attended and presented their work. Although it was cold in Portland this January, I feel a warmth thinking of this conference.