SAP Updates and Upcoming Events
Jeffrey Zimmerman, PhD, ABPP
Thoughts and Insights from Asia
Professor Jiang from Oriental Insight invited a delegation from SAP leadership (Drs. Changming Duan, Armand Cerbone, Rod Goodyear, and me) to present at Oriental Insight’s conference entitled “Supervision and Ethics: The conference of professionalization of psychological counseling and therapy” this April in Wuhan, China. Dr. Carol Falender was also on the program. I had the distinct honor and privilege of giving a keynote entitled, “Bringing Harmony to Families: Ethically building professional competencies to reduce conflict.”
On my way to China I started thinking how we certainly have our share of conflict in our own profession, personal lives and institutions of government and culture. As a mediator and collaborative divorce mental health professional, and as someone who does a lot of work with couples, I am frequently helping my clients have “difficult conversations.” However, it does not stop there.
On the SAP website, you can find an article by Pauline Venieris, MA, MMFT (http://societyforpsychotherapy.org/difficult-dialogues-internship/). She spoke to difficult dialogues she has had in her training. I was touched to see how open she was. I started to think of some of the difficult dialogues I have had during my term as President-Elect and this year as your SAP President. I want to share with you a few observations which may seem like “old hat,” but to me need repeating as I am struck by how “old hat” often is not integrated into our patterns of communication and interaction.
Many Chinese people pride themselves on respect and honor. I think these concepts are important to keep in mind and then act on. In difficult dialogues this is crucial. Too often I witness ridicule and disregard of the other’s view, rather than truly seeking to understand the other’s perspective. Devaluing the other’s perspective and taking adversarial positions do little to further dialogue. Rather it tends to polarize and create an “us versus them” mentality. It promotes what can seem like the arrogance of one’s own view at the expense and disregard of the other’s view. Imagine instead if you and the other person truly demonstrated and experienced respect in the midst of the discussion about your differences. Might that favorably impact the process? Might that favorably impact the outcome?
While debate can be important, usually debate is fraught with a devaluing of the other’s perspective, rather than an honest attempt to truly understand their perspective; to really “get it.” Debate is about determining whether “A” or “B” should prevail. However, once each person understands the other, they can work towards solving for “A” and “B” where both views are honored.
I must say how pleased I was when many of our colleagues discussed the APA “Boys Don’t Cry” video with me. Many of us had strong, but differing reactions. The discussions about the piece, culture, race, gender and privilege that I had with different members were some of the most honest and respectful. Our Society is blessed to have members who will take the time to engage in this way. As psychotherapists, we should set the standard for healthy discussions both in and out of the psychotherapy session.
Arriving in China at 8 pm (23 hours after leaving home) Lauren and I were met at the airport by a graduate student (Lily) and Dr. Jiang’s administrative assistant (Finny). We did not have to search for them, they found us. From that moment on we realized that Chinese hospitality is something to behold. Throughout our stay, every concern and need was effectively attended to. The conference ran flawlessly. But more importantly, our Chinese hosts touched our hearts. There were times of closeness, openness, tears, and sharing. In such a short time, we had connected deeply with one another.
During our stay, Changming and I met with Professor Jiang to speak about ideas for continuing to build the relationship between OI and SAP. Changming will be discussing these ideas with the International Committee and then presenting them to the EC and Board as needed. It is quite possible SAP will have an opportunity to help impact training and practice standards in China—very exciting!
World Congress of Psychotherapy (WCP)
In July, our international activities will continue, as SAP has 5 symposia which will be presented at WCP. There are more than 20 presentations included in the symposia. We hope to build our international relationships while focusing on my presidential initiative related to bringing mental health services to the underserved. I hope you can join us. If you do, stay tuned for information about a social hour we are in the midst of setting up.
We will carry the theme of my Presidential Initiatives into Convention 2017. We have a diverse program that also spans issues around training and supervision, repairing therapeutic ruptures, various treatment strategies, and helping build our resilience as clinicians. We have 2 poster sessions you can attend. Dr. Gary Howell has done an amazing job as program chair. Thank you, Gary. And thank you to all our presenters and those of you who will be attending. Please be sure to come to our business and awards meeting and social hour which will be held on Friday in the Marriott Marquis. I hope to see you at convention. Please come up and say “Hello” and of course let me know if you have even an inkling of interest in getting more involved in SAP.
This Issue of the Bulletin
This will be the last print issue of the Bulletin. This was a difficult decision for the Board, which is committed to continue to bring you the Bulletin and all it has to offer, but will allow us to provide content in a cost-effective and environmentally-friendly way online. So, please stay on the lookout for the electronic version. If you do not get the electronic copy please check your spam and trash files and then reach out to Dr. Lynett Henderson Metzger (Editor, firstname.lastname@example.org) to let her know.
Results From Governance Election
Finally, please join me in congratulating the winners of this year’s election for positions in the Society’s governance. They are:
President-Elect: Nancy L. Murdock, PhD
Secretary: Rebecca M. Ametrano, PhD
Domain Representative–International Affairs: Frederick T. L. Leong, PhD
Domain Representative–Public Interest and Social Justice: Lavita I. Nadkarni, PhD
Please also join me in thanking all the candidates for being willing to volunteer their service to the Society.
Wishing you all a safe and healthy Summer 2017.