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Full Day Programs

Thursday March 23rd, 9:00am – 4:00pm

P1: “Soul Shop – Ministering to Suicidal Depression,”

Soul Shop was developed to help pastoral caregivers learn how to make ministry to those experiencing suicidal desperation (and those who live them) a regular aspect of preaching, teaching and pastoral care. Learn how to make your church a community where people who are navigating the dangerous passages of life find a place where they can reinvent themselves.

This workshop is designed for 1) pastoral and lay caregivers to learn how to lead this ministry, and 2) pastoral counselors to learn both how to partner with congregations to bring this ministry to your community. Michelle Snyder is the former Executive Director of the Pittsburgh Pastoral Institute where she was a pioneer in connecting congregations to mental health resources.

Presented by:
  • Michelle Snyder, M.Div., LCSW, Director of Soul Shop and Author of Life, Death, and Reinvention: The Gift of the Impossibly Messed-Up Life

P2: “The Clinical Use of the Essential Self in Pastoral Counseling”

Mainline American psychology has been slow to identify and embrace a theory of the self, or to be clear about the differentiation of mind and brain. What various thinks have termed the Self, the Essential Self, Organic Self, Core Self, Inmost Self, Ontological Self, etc.… is even further from standard psychological theory. However, many spiritual and psycho-spiritual traditions embrace such a reality and are providing a cutting edge for the field that will lead us into the future. This workshop will outline a phenomenological description of a larger self-characterized by mindful awareness, compassion, and wisdom, as distinguished from a multiplicity of historically conditioned and more limited parts that comprise one’s ego. A number of contemporary theorists have developed theories of the essential self and methods for accessing it in the service of clinical work.

This workshop will experientially and theoretically differentiate ordinary versus contemplative consciousness in relation to the essential self, experiment with a number of approaches of contemporary theorists to using knowledge clinically, and provide participants with a packet of notes on the methods not explored for time reasons to experiment with at home.

Presented by:
  • Greg Johanson, M. Div., Ph. D., NCC, LPC is a pastoral psychotherapist-professor-minister-writer-editor who leads trainings throughout the United States and internationally. He is a Senior Trainer of the Hakomi Institute, and an original trainer in Internal Family Systems

Half Day Programs
Thursday March 23rd, 9:00am – 12:00pm (P3 or P5)

P3/P5: “Clinical and Pastoral Approaches toward Counseling Transgender People of Faith”

In this half-day workshop, veteran “gender therapist” Laura Thor will introduce clinical and pastoral foundations for affirming transgender clients and families. The APA, NASW and ACA have set forth best practices for assessment and treatment planning for the wellbeing of gender dysphoric clients, and the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) has established Standards of Care to guide competent practice. Pastoral counselors serving as witnesses to transgender narratives are called to offer life-affirming theological anthropology supporting the spiritual journeys of those whose bodies do not incarnate their psychological/emotional/spiritual gender. This training will support the pastoral counselor’s own spiritual challenges with Biblical humor and a self-assessment of cultural humility for this work.

Laura Thor has worked with gender dysphoric adults and adolescents since 1994, after her former husband transitioned from man to woman. Her doctoral exit project is a curriculum for spiritual retreats for transgender people of faith. She has given this retreat in Colorado and Wisconsin, including with a Catholic Sister mentored by Laura. Laura’s article, published in the spiritual director’s journal Presence, is “Living in the Image of God: Transgender People in Spiritual Direction,” and can be read at www.transgenderspiritcounseling.com.

Presented by:
  • Laura A Thor, D. Min., LCSW

P4/P6: “When Marital Stress Strikes: Differences in Clergy Couples’ Coping Skills”


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Conference Workshops, Session I
Friday March 24th, 10:30am – 12:00pm
FA1: “The Compassion Practice: One Model for Spiritually Integrated Psychotherapy”


FA2: “Spirituality, Religion, Theology, and Faith: Do we know the difference, does it make a difference, and to whom?”

This workshop will offer a model to clarify the meaning and usage of the four terms in the title. While discussing clinical examples of how the model is useful, participants will be invited to offer examples of client problems from their own practice that could be helped by using the model. Participants will have a clearer knowledge of the differences between these four terms/concepts and will be able to identify client problems as belonging to one or more of the four concepts, and will be able to apply the model in their work with clients.

Presented by:
  • The Rev. John S. Eddinger, D. Min.

FA3: “EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing): A Spiritually Fitting Tool for Pastoral Counseling”

EMDR is well suited to help clients address significant spiritual/theological/religious issues; e.g. suffering, forgiveness, original sin, judgment, and lack of self-control. Learn how EMDR can promote healing and integration following emotional and physical trauma, in part by stimulating healthy God images and inner spiritual resources.

Participants will learn a basic description of EMDR and its applications so they can discern the usefulness and appropriateness of EMDR in pastoral counseling practice.

Presented by:
  • The Rev. Wayne Gustafson, D. Min., LMHC

FA4: “Reinventing the Southeast Region: Lessons Learned, Good News to Share”

The Southeast Region of AAPC is 18 months in to what we imagine as a five-year transition to revitalize and expand the work of our region and support the association. We have experienced successes and failures along the way, but we see encouraging evidence that we are moving forward creatively and courageously. Our guiding question, “What does the world need that we have resources to meet?” has helped us clarify goals and mobilized us to action in supporting our members, developing new models for continuing education and professional development, and reaching out to professionals beyond our current membership. This workshop will review the work we have done, summarize what we have learned, and offer resources other regions may find useful in their own renewal.

Presented by:

  • Russell Siler Jones, ThD, LPCS, is a pastoral counselor in Asheville, NC, Director of the CareNet/Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center’s Residency in Psychotherapy and Spirituality, and Chair of AAPC’s Southeast Region.
  • Kathryn Summers, PsyD, is a pastoral counselor in Durham, NC, Chair-Elect of AAPC’s Southeast Region, and Vice-President of the NC Association of Pastoral Counselors.

FA5: “Naming the Un-named Internal Process (The Conative Process)”

The Conative Process has often been acknowledged as present but has not clearly been named by many/most psychotherapists. It is the internal process of wanting, needing, liking, not liking, striving, motivating a person. It is there from the very beginning for each of us. Paul Shoup believes that one of the most significant wants/needs that we have is spiritual and is spoken of clearly in the Hebrew Scriptures as the wanting to be connected. It is the Conative process is at the core of this. This process is of the spirit and motivates us for connection. This Conative Process is one that often gets a very negative evaluation as being bad, selfish, sinful and often considered shameful. It is important that we can name and claim this very important process in our healing work and not be afraid of it or bad mouth it. This is the most basic way that our spirituality is integrated into our whole being. Being clear about this will be helpful in the healing process for broken relationships with others, ourselves and with God.

Presented by:
  • The Rev. Paul F. Shoup, M. Div., LMHC; Fellow AAPC; Chair, Northwest Region

FA6: “Integrating West and East: Christian Converts to Buddhism and Implications for Multi-Faith Pastoral Psychotherapy”

American culture has embraced mindfulness, mindfulness meditation, and other forms of Buddhist meditation, oftentimes without knowledge of the fact these practices originate in Buddhist religions. Integrating West and East addresses, in part, new understandings of the mind as the result of Buddhist meditative practices. AAPC members, by and large, have been educated and trained in Western understandings of the mind. Through the embrace of mindfulness, we are being introduced to other ways of understanding the mind. It is important that AAPC members cultivate at least two ways of understanding the mind in order to promote self-understanding with our clients who practice mindfulness and other forms of meditation.

Presented by:
  • Pamela Ayo Yetunde, Th. D., Visiting Scholar-in-Residence at University of the West

Conference Workshops, Session II
Friday March 24th, 4:30pm – 6:00pm

FP1: “Using Words: Theological Integration into Counseling from Franciscan Perspective”

One of the more famous quotes drawn from writings about St. Francis of Assisi is “Preach the Gospel. If necessary use words.” This presentation will explore theological integration into training students as counselors and supervisors through the lens of Franciscan tradition and the core beliefs that animate this approach. Looking at a process of theological reflection applied to both therapeutic and supervisory understanding, the process will be clarified, the Franciscan foundation laid, and examples drawn to illustrate how words can transform the clinical into the pastoral, that is a spiritually supported experience. From the Franciscan paradigm, attendees can translate the concepts into their own spiritually grounded approaches.

Dr. Mayer is a full-time professor, who teaches foundational and seminar courses that integrate psychology and theology in a way that affirms the ongoing interrelationship among clinical experiences, spiritual reality, and mental health outreach. Having arrived at Neumann University which is grounded in the Franciscan tradition some 20+ years ago, she has imbibed the spirit of Assisi and works to make it evident in her classes, retreats, articles and poetry.

Presented by:
  • Sr. Suzanne Mayer, IHM, PhD, is Director of Neumann University’s MS degree program Pastoral Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Aston, PA
  • Sophia Park, Th.D., LMFT is an assistant professor of Pastoral Clinical Mental Health at Neumann University, Aston, PA. Theological reflection and integrating spirituality into counseling has been important in all her clinical work as a family therapist, hospital chaplain, and as a children and youth minister, all of which she is able to bring into her teachings. Her expertise is in multi-cultural family counseling and she writes in the area of identity formation in bi-cultural children.

FP2: ”Theological and Spiritual Resources for Trauma Therapy”

Our contemporary context contains multiple threat scenarios for human Well-Being and flourishing. Among such challenges are life events that overwhelm persons through the experience of trauma. Trauma can manifest in multiple forms such as physical violence, emotionally abusive life patterns, systemic racial or gendered alienation, and so on. Spiritually integrated psychotherapy is uniquely suited to address such human vulnerability in its multiple forms. Alongside the rich history of pastoral clinical skill developments, reflected in AAPC, pastoral counseling also represents the profound grounding in theological and spiritual resources that are needed to meet the full challenges of trauma. In this workshop we will predominantly address theological sources to provide a foundation for transformational action, and then proceed to the praxis implications for pastoral counselors. Our goal will be to find deeper sources of solidarity with sufferers and the necessary ministry applications that are sourced by comprehensive and dynamic theological and spiritual perspectives.

Presented by:
  • William “Bill” Schmidt, Ph. D., Professor, Institute of Pastoral Studies, Loyola University, Chicago, IL

FP3: “How Spiritually Competent Are We, Really?”

Since most people include spirituality in their worldview, this worldview is very likely to accompany both clinicians and clients into therapeutic settings. Clients also often report their spirituality is a part of how they make meaning and lasting change in their lives, indicating mental health practitioners should be aware of how the spiritual dimension engages the therapeutic process. Marriage and family therapists (MFTs) are specifically trained in applying systemic concepts in therapy. In order for MFTs to be truly systemic, all available client systems need to be included in therapeutic treatment, embracing a bio-psycho-social-spiritual model into holistic care.

The quality and variety of spiritual competency (broadly, appropriately meeting the spiritual needs of clients) is often difficult to gauge. Launching from original research, this presentation will examine the relevant history of researching spiritual competency in mental health and present this in a way accessible and useful to the broad AAPC audience. Discussion will proceed around the legitimacy of the different spiritual competency assessments and their uses in both religious and secular contexts. Small groups will practice some of the most vital and commonly agreed upon techniques when meeting spiritual needs therapeutically. Lastly, attendees will be encouraged to take some of the assessments themselves to reflect upon ways they too can improve in the future.

Presented by:
  • Daniel Stillwell, Ph. D., LMFT, Professor, Marriage and Family Therapy, Pfeiffer University, Raleigh-Durham, NC.

FP4: “Partnership for Pastoral Counseling: An Ongoing Story of Collegiality”

For 20 Years, the Partnership for Pastoral Counseling has served churches and the community of Western North Carolina as a funding subsidy for clients who could not afford faith-based counseling. The organization has subsidized over 20,000 hours of counseling with almost $1 million supporting 12 pastoral counseling providers in Asheville, NC and the surrounding counties. The story will be told by the Founder, the Executive Director, and a Provider/Board Member. We will present its history, working documents, challenges and successes, and how it might work in another community. We will also tell the story of our 20th anniversary conference for the community in May 2016, “Bridging Differences in a Polarized World: Spiritual Wisdom & Practical Tools.” We present this story to provide a living example of the spiritual values of generosity and abundance, as opposed to “turf-ism” and scarcity.

Presented by:
  • Michael Hester, Ph. D., AAPC Diplomate, Pastoral Counseling & Growth Center; Founder, Partnership for Pastoral Counseling, Asheville, NC
  • Rebecca Wells, Executive Director, Partnership for Pastoral Counseling
  • Jim Wallis, Board Chair, Partnership for Pastoral Counseling

FP5: “Pastoral and Lay Counseling in the Local Church”

This workshop will equip participants with a model for providing a partnership between a pastoral counselor and the lay counselors of a local church. It will explore the workshop presenters own history of providing pastoral counseling at one of the fastest growing churches in South Carolina, and how lay counselors have been trained and engaged to support this work in service to members and the community. Dr. Powell has served as a Pastor of two churches, a prison chaplain, and a pastoral counselor for 25 years. In writing his dissertation he developed a model for Pastoral Counseling for chaplains in the prison system. He has led numerous conferences, written children's stories for Proclaim magazine and written articles for care givers periodicals. He has also written two books; The Adventures of Speedy and Poky: Values Training through Storytelling and Pastoral and Lay Counseling in the Local Church.

Presented by:
  • Gary Powell, D. Min., LPC, AAPC Fellow, Staff Counselor at Cedar Creek Church, Aiken, SC

FP6: “Pastoral Counseling in the Neoliberal Age: Hello Best Practices, Goodbye Theology”


Conference Workshops, Session III
Saturday March 25th, 2:45pm – 4:15pm

SP1: “Leadership in an Age of Flux: Facilitating Transformation for Clergy, Leaders & Congregations”

“All beginnings come from situations that are ‘without form and void’.” Thus states William Bridges in his work on transitions. We generally know how to help individuals and families who come to our offices to move through transition and to help them create new forms to strengthen the fresh beginnings in their lives. And yet, as pastoral counselors, we are being called upon more and more to expand our care to provide insight and leadership to the beginnings that are occurring within our companies, organizations, and faith communities, and to act as paid consultants to other institutions particularly congregations who are struggling with the Emergent Church. This is occurring even as AAPC is morphing and transitioning with new understandings of who we are, needing leadership to guide us into our new future. This workshop will explore effective leadership techniques interweaving the leadership and transition theories of Ed Friedman, William Bridges, and poet David Whyte. This interactive workshop will utilize an A/V presentation, and allow participants time to reflect on personal times of transition as well as to have peer consultation with colleagues on a current organizational transition they are facing, paying special attention to the leadership needed for that situation. Time will also be spent in discussing the kind of leadership needed in AAPC today to encourage and develop leaders for the next 50 years of AAPC.

Presented by:
  • The Rev. Elizabeth Denham Thompson, AAPC Fellow, LMFT, Eremos Consulting Group, Littleton, CO

SP2: “Culture, Mental Health and Theology”

God created humans as physical, spiritual, and relational beings. Because of pervasive evil and social injustice in the world, many people are exposed to various forms of trauma and struggle to survive the impact of those events. Symbolic and subjective expressions of mental illnesses should be considered as a screaming of sufferers’ desire to be restored and reconnected with self, others, and God. This however is usually rejected in the research-based and scientific data-oriented medical setting. Thus, this presentation emphasizes that pastoral caregivers must empower sufferers to acknowledge the silent screaming of their soul and stand up for their survival and liberation. Considering the differences between therapist and client, post-colonial theologians emphasize the need to “re-view” traditional religious symbols and rituals to help sufferers express their desperate feelings and yearnings to find the presence of God in their sufferings.

Therefore, it is significant to learn from the post-colonial approaches of “the imaginative” and “culturally recognizable symbolic forms of interaction” for approaching sufferers in psychotherapy and caregiving settings. In this sense, this presentation introduces Koreans’ traditional coping methods for mental illness: sak-yim and pu-ri, which are spiritually embedded and symbolic ways to approach in a psychotherapeutic settings. For a successful healing process, it is essential for sufferers to have a safe space in which they can restore their relational nature and begin to develop their own spirituality. Through a successful application of the processes of sak-yim and pu-ri, sufferers should be able to release their overwhelmed emotional distresses and re-tell their painful narratives in an imaginative and intersubjective relationship where they can feel safe enough to reveal themselves and regain power to trust self, others and God.

Presented by:
  • Dal Seok Yoo, M. A., Th. D., Staff Associate Therapist, The Summit Counseling Center, Johns Creek, GA

SP3: “Blending the Core of Human Authenticity and Spiritual Integrity”

IFS looks at the Core of AAPC and of the core of humanity. A center piece of spirituality unfolds to a better understanding of how fragmented and fractured parts in all persons and systems need to be healed and the original intentions restored. This workshop will present a way of un-blending from the negative problems and positive contributions of the past in search of the power center of Self (Image of God in us) to move into our future.

The workshop will present the basic assumptions of the Internal Family Systems Model (Richard Schwartz) and how it blends evaluative psychodynamic theory, systems theory, human experience and healthy psychological and theological integration. Participants will be invited to watch a live demo of the model based on a participant’s willingness to volunteer to work on a part that is struggling with the integration of theology and psychology. Alternatively a video clip will be used.

Participants will learn to identify the five basic assumptions of IFS, witness how the IFS lens gives insight and innovation to understanding the spiritual role and resource of the therapeutic process, and witness how the process unfolds in a real life encounter of parts and Self (the image of God in all people).

Presented by:
  • The Rev. Dr. Donald L. Paine, LCSW, MFT, AAPC Member Program Assistant, Internal Family Systems (IFS) Training Program, Charlotte, NC

SP4: “Graduate Education and CACREP Accreditation: What Educators Need to Know”

CACREP (Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs) was formed in 1981 by the American Counseling Association to promote the advancement of quality educational programs in counselor training. The CACREP standard, which defines the parameters of coursework and clinical training requirements for Licensed Professional Counselors, is being adopted rapidly by state licensing boards as a requirement for anyone seeking licensure as an LPC. The CACREP standard of education has also become a requirement for anyone seeking to teach in CACREP accredited masters or doctoral programs. This growing trend has profound implications for AAPC and for the pastoral counseling field as a whole. Any graduate program, both master and doctorate level, that seeks to train pastoral counselors and educators, or offer any kind of spiritually integrated counseling, will need to settle the question of whether or not to pursue CACREP accreditation. This workshop will include a panel discussion by leaders in graduate education and counselor training programs to help participants understand the pros and cons of CACREP accreditation and make informed programmatic decisions.

Facilitated by:
  • Beth Toler, ThD, LMFT, is Assistant Professor and Clinical Program Coordinator in Neumann University’s MS degree program in Pastoral Clinical Mental Health Counseling.
  • Sr. Suzanne Mayer, IHM, PhD, is Director of Neumann University’s MS degree program Pastoral Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Aston, PA.
  • Thomas Rodgerson, PhD, LCPC, is Assistant Professor of Pastoral Counseling and Director of the MA Program in Spiritual and Pastoral Care at Loyola University Maryland in Baltimore.
  • Jill Snodgrass, Ph.D, Assistant Professor of Pastoral Counseling, Loyola University – Maryland

SP5: “Depth Psychotherapy as Psycho-Spiritual Event, As Religious Occasion”

This presentation suggests that the core, unique aspect of depth therapy in this age of increasing metric profession, psychology by the numbers, is its fundamental psycho-spiritual orientation, its essential anchoring in liminal realms. This multi-media presentation will use film, art, and masked clinical examples to attempt a contribution toward this rehabilitation of craft, this re-visioning of depth psychotherapy vocation as religious event, as sacramental occasion. A brief concluding aside will allude to the growing planetary dimensions of this psychology and craft, stressing the urgency of reconnecting to the anima mundi spirit so wounded at the core of contemporary individual and collective psyche.

Presented by:
  • Terrill L. Gibson, Ph.D., is a Jungian Analyst, AAPC Diplomate, and AAMFT Approved Supervisor. Dr. Gibson practices individual and family therapy with Pastoral Therapy Associates in Tacoma, WA.

SP6: “How Does It Feel To Be A Problem?”

This renowned quote from W. E. B. DuBois’ seminal work, “The Souls of Black Folk”, provides a resource for engaging contemporary issues around ‘otherness’ in an increasingly diverse world. Mining from DuBois’ writings, this workshop explores how our assumptions about who people are can impede the provision of culturally relevant care-giving.
In addition to her teaching at the Candler School of Theology, Wynnetta Wimberley is on staff at the Emory University School of Medicine. She is clinically trained in psychodynamic psychotherapy, having earned her Th. D. in Pastoral Counseling from Emory University, and M. Div. and Th. M. degrees, respectively, from Princeton Theological Seminary, USA. An ordained pastor in the American Baptist Churches, USA, with over twenty years of ministry with marginalized communities, she consults with pastors in crisis. She is the author of “Depression in African American Clergy” (Palgrave, 2016).

Presented by:
  • Wynetta Wimberley, Adjunct Professor of Pastoral Theology, Care and Counseling at Emory University, Atlanta, GA

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