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2020 Convention - Friday Educational Sessions
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Friday Educational Sessions

8:30 am to 10:30 am (1.5 CE credits)

Opening Session: Psychology (R)evolution 

Using a mixed media format we will open the convention by exploring the role, influence and impact of applying psychological science to influence public policy and clinical practice. Hear strategies you can use personally and professionally to create effective cultural and systemic changes to improve outcomes for individuals and communities affected by stress and trauma.

Tonya Wood, PhD
will serve as CPA President in 2020. She is a licensed psychologist who has nearly 20 years of experience working with children and families. She currently serves as the Director of Clinical Training in the PsyD program at Pepperdine University. She is also clinical supervisor and coordinator of mental health services at the South Los Angeles Trauma Recovery Center. She has a private practice in the Los Angeles area, with emphasis on relationships, women’s health and infertility.

Benjamin Mertz is a pianist, composer, and song leader who specializes in the Black Spiritual tradition. He is a third-generation profession musician; his mother is a jazz and opera singer, and his “grandaddy” was a jazz pianist who worked with legends like Sarah Vaughan and Charles Mingus. Benjamin leads community sings and workshops, exploring music ranging from the African diaspora to civil rights music and is the founder and director of the Joyful Noise! Gospel singers.

Attendees will be able to:

  1. Name and identify two strategies for collaboration and treatment intervention within community based settings.
  2. Name and describe two recent contributions from psychological science that they can incorporate into their clinical practice.
  3. Identify two strategies to assessment and evaluate treatment outcomes with clients affected by stress and trauma.

11:00 am to 12:30 pm (1.5 CE Credits)

Master Lecture: The Polarized Mind and What We Can Do About It

This presentation focuses on the nature and basis of an existential-humanistic concept called the “polarized mind.” The polarized mind is the fixation on a single point of view to the utter exclusion of competing points of view and is one of the chief bases for personal and interpersonal destructiveness. Dr. Schneider will explain this problem and discuss and illustrate a conflict mediation approach aimed at depolarizing the polarized mind. This approach, which is a synthesis of this work with the group process format of “Better Angels USA” as well as the phenomenologically based “experiential democracy dialogue,” has been shown to stem stereotyping and bolster human civility.

Kirk J. Schneider, PhD,
is a licensed psychologist and leading spokesperson for contemporary existential-humanistic psychology. Dr. Schneider is the current president of the Existential-Humanistic Institute (EHI), Council Member of the American Psychological Association (APA), past president of the Society for Humanistic Psychology of the APA, recent past editor of the Journal of Humanistic Psychology, and adjunct faculty member at Saybrook University and Teachers College, Columbia University. He has published over 200 articles, interviews and chapters and has authored or edited 13 books including The Polarized Mind, Existential-Humanistic Therapy, and The Spirituality of Awe: Challenges to the Robotic Revolution.

Attendees will be able to:

  1. Define the "polarized mind."
  2. Describe two phases of the Experiential Democracy Dialogue.
  3. Apply two skills from the Experiential Democracy Dialogue to their clinical or counseling practices.

Personal Values, Professional Ethics, Competence, and Discrimination:
A Controversial Topic in Training and Supervision

David Jull-Patterson, PhD, is an associate professor at California Northstate University. He is an inductee of the Haile T. Debas Academy of Medical Educators at UCSF and is named an Honored Instructor at UC Berkeley Extension. His professional interests are in thanatology, ethics, social justice, and faculty development, and he serves as the co-chair of the CPA Ethics Committee.

Supervisors, professors, and academic programs balance the values of trainees with the ethical standards of competence and respect of cultural, individual, and role differences. Learn an approach that maximizes ethical standards and provides a pathway to help trainees increase their competence while respecting their beliefs and professional identity development.

Attendees will be able to:

  1. Compare and contrast the differences between competence, conscience, and discrimination.
  2. Synthesize five core tenets to underpin and unify responses to trainees with competence difficulties related to personal values.
  3. Design an ethically and pedagogically sound response plan to support the professional development of a trainee who invokes a conscience clause.

The Art and Science of Virtual Reality Therapy: Using VR in Your Practice

Elizabeth McMahon, PhD, Psychologist and Author, Private Practice, San Francisco, CA

Virtual Reality (VR) is known to be highly effective for exposure therapy with anxiety and is now being used for pain, addictions, trauma, mindfulness, skills training, and more. Experience VR and review the latest research. Case examples vividly illustrate the benefits of VR for your clients and practice.

Attendees will be able to:

  1.  Describe the benefits to clients and therapists of offering VR.
  2. Identify at least five clinical issues for which therapists use VR.
  3. Summarize the scientific evidence base for using VR in therapy.

The Neuroscience of Stress-Mediated Disorders: Biomarkers and Contemporary Neuroimaging as Methods of Tracking Changes in the Brain

David M. Lechuga, PhD, Director, Neurobehavioral Clinic and Counseling Center, Lake Forest, CA; Erin D. Bigler, PhD, Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience (Emeritus), Department of Psychology, Brigham Young University

Recently, there has been greater interest in trauma-based conditions and a recognition that the neuropsychology of trauma underpins clinical interventions that seek to attenuate the effects of trauma-related psychopathology. Contemporary neuroimaging has the capacity to assess and track brain changes as a function of trauma or stress, and may have utility in operationalizing clinical improvement. This workshop will review the neuroscience of stress-related conditions and clarify neuroimaging tools that may help identify the consequences of stress/trauma and guide clinical treatments. Current societal stressors, e.g., traumatic events (mass shootings, immigration) and social justice themes will be addressed.

Attendees will be able to:

  1. Describe biomarkers of stress.
  2. Describe neuroimaging tools used to document the brain changes associated with stress.
  3. Describe bases for social justice activity, given the knowledge of stress' effects of the developing brain, in particular.

2:00 pm to 3:30 pm (1.5 CE Credits)

Master Lecture: Diversity and Inclusion: From Bedroom to Boardroom

Words such as diversity and inclusion are buzzwords that we often hear almost in any setting these days. We moved from claiming cultural competency to inviting cultural humility. What do these actually mean to our clients and us? With the ongoing systemic oppression and denied privileges, can we really afford cultural humility and curiosity? In our individualistic society, we regard self-awareness as the first step of this journey. However, our definition of self, misses the subtleties that intersectionality offers. This talk will offer a model as a starting point to look at the nuanced forms that diversity take so we can help our clients to make deeper and more meaningful connections in their most intimate interactions as well as in their broader social context.


Attendees will be able to:

  1. Recognize hidden biases that would manifest in working with clients with different cultural background.
  2. Discuss cultural proficiency as the next step from cultural humility, utilizing case examples.
  3. Describe how to utilize a practical framework to work in a culturally responsive manner.

Sara Nasserzadeh, PhD, DipPST CSC is recognized as a global thought leader in the fields of psychosexual therapy, couple counseling and social psychology. In addition to her role as a senior cultural advisor to the United Nations, she serves on the Boards of various professional organizations and industries, has worked across 38 countries, and created an award-winning program for the BBC World Service. She believes that democracy starts in the bedroom and world peace is achievable one relationship at the time. Her most recent contribution to the field has been the design of a validated inventory called the Relationship Panoramic, to help individuals and couples create and maintain thriving relationships.

The Psychologist's Role in the Multidisciplinary Treatment of
Autism Spectrum Disorder

Doreen A. Samelson, EdD, MCSP, Senior Vice President, Clinical Excellence Easterseals, Bay Area;
Bethany Thompson, MEd, BCBA, Consultant BCBA, Easterseals Bay Area

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a heterogeneous disorder. Patients with ASD benefit from a multidisciplinary treatment approach that includes psychologists. This presentation will explore the important role psychologists have in differential diagnosis and treatment of ASD including what psychologists bring to the most common treatment for ASD, applied behavior analysis.

Attendees will be able to:

  1. State two factors that have increased the heterogeneity of the ASD population.
  2. State two important roles for the psychologist working with board certified.
  3. Describe the deficit vs. quality of life approach to treating ASD.

Opportunities for Psychologists in the Media: A Basic Training Workshop 

Richard Levak, PhD, ABPP, Del Mar, CA

Psychologists are often asked to do interviews with the media based on their expertise, but sometimes feel unprepared to do so. In this session you will learn how to develop a "talking points" summary of a particular area in which you have expertise inn order to communicate the value of psychology to the public. You will have an opportunity to be interviewed and videotaped by other participants using their cell phones in order to receive constructive feedback about your media presence.

Attendees will be able to:

  1. Describe the four common ethical pitfalls that are associated with psychologists in the media.
  2. Practice responding to various interview techniques and media questions.
  3. Prepare a vignette exemplifying current issues in their area of expertise and participate in a role play media interview.

Working with BDSM-oriented Patients: Current Research on Eroticism of Pain, Power Exchange, and other BDSM Practices

John McConnell, PhD, Private Practice, San Diego, CA

Many BDSM-oriented individuals hesitate to disclose this to their therapist because they are unsure how the therapist will respond. This presentation gives therapists a framework to self-assess their competency to treat BDSM-oriented patients. The presenter will discuss key research on two commonly presenting issues that are problematic for most therapists new to the area: the eroticization of pain, and Power Exchange (or Dominance/Submission). Brief related clinical vignettes will illustrate frequently encountered topics such as “pain-play”, neurotransmitters and bonding; rape fantasies; “puppy play;” and fetishizing the body as an object (partialisms). Additionally, he will discuss community norms and offer additional resources useful in practice.

Attendees will be able to:

  1. Use research on therapy with BDSM-oriented patients, and additional tools, to self-evaluate competency to treat BDSM-oriented clients.
  2. Describe the basic theory of how Beta-Endorphins and Cortisol function in erotic pain play.
  3. Discuss a framework for applying research to understanding PE (power exchange) in a clinical case.

4:00 pm to 5:00 pm (1.0 CE Credits)

Blurred Boundaries - Multi-Dimensional Assessment and Intervention with Autism Spectrum and Co-Morbid Disorders

Melanie Johnson, PhD, Private Practice, Sonoma County, CA

This interactive session, based on case examples and discussion, will provide tools for assessing and treating complex Autism Spectrum Disorders. ASDs often co-occur with other psychiatric and neurodevelopmental disorders, and appropriate assessment can help lead these clients toward more tailored treatment plans.

Attendees will be able to:

  1. Identify the common comorbid issues that often occur in individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders.
  2. Describe assessment tools and techniques for diagnosing complex Autism Spectrum Disorders.
  3. Identify key treatment modalities and resources for individuals with complex Autism Spectrum Disorders.

The Advent of Cyberneuropsychology: Impacts of Technology on the Brain and Society

Dustin Weissman, PsyD, CEO & Founder, Digital Addiction Recovery Center, Northridge, CA

This presentation explores the effects of technology on developing and mature brains and on the field of neuroscience as a whole. Topics will relate to the global impact of technology on society, including socialization, economics, privacy, government and corporate involvement, the gaming industry, media channels, and mental and physical health.

 Attendees will be able to:

  1. Apply a clear and concrete definition of the emerging field of Cyberneuropsychology.
  2. Gain knowledge of the empirical research supporting the need for this new field.
  3. Recognize the positive and negative impacts of technology on mental and physical health.

Meeting Beyond Words: 'Arts in Health and Healing' as a Culturally Responsive Approach to Arts Interventions

Michael Changaris, PsyD, Health Psychologist and Chief Training Officer, Integrated Health Psychology Training Program, Richmond, CA; Napoleon Dargan, PsyD, Clinical Director, Art N' The Lobby, Contra Costa Health Services

Art opens clinical relationships to unspoken truths. This dynamic interactive presentation explores the use of a culturally responsive art driven tool kit. Using a brief therapy model adapted from health psychology's (5As), participants will develop practical skills for bringing art interventions into their existing clinical work.

Attendees will be able to:

  1. Describe and apply three core components of a culturally responsive of arts intervention that is adaptable to both brief and long-term clinical interventions.
  2. Describe the 5As model as a map for supporting change with arts interventions.
  3. Discuss three clinical tools that can be used in clinical interventions along-side existing interventions.

Coping with Ongoing Political Triggers, Trauma, and Transference: Attending to Ourselves and our Clients

Elisabeth Crim, PhD, MA, MA; CEO, Moonstone Center, Torrance, CA

In the ongoing environment of political upheaval, citizen psychologists find themselves managing activated political transference, trauma, and fatigue personally, professionally, and collectively. In this session we will explore strategies for deepening our understanding and integration of resilience in order to help our patients (and ourselves) develop tools for navigating our politically charged environment and politically affected relationships.

Attendees will be able to:

  1. Identify and explain political transference, trauma, and fatigue.
  2. Describe resilience and explain how to deepen and integrate it into individual and collective narrative.
  3. Describe a systemic approach to making meaning of a collective and social experience of political transference, trauma, fatigue, and resilience.


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