Institutes for Advanced Systemic Family Therapy

Join us in Honolulu and earn up to 15.5 hours of continuing education credit with the most advanced marriage and family therapy training available!   

The AAMFT Institutes for Advanced Systemic Family Therapy is designed with the advanced clinician in mind. Join colleagues from around the world as you attend sessions ranging from one day intensives to 90-minute deep dives all while cultivating peer connection.

Wednesday, June 24 - Friday, June 26 2020

Location: Honolulu, Hawaii 


Wednesday, June 24
7:00 am - 7:00 pm: Registration Open
8:00 am - 3:30 pm: Approved Supervision Refresher Course
5:00 - 7:00 pm: Opening Reception

Thursday, June 25

7:00 am - 5:30 pm: Registration Open
7:30 - 8:30 am: Continental Breakfast
8:30 - 9:30 am: Keynote: The State of Systemic Family Therapy
9:45 am - 4:30 pm: Intensive Courses
2:45 - 2:15 pm: Research Discussion Luncheon
4:30 - 5:30 pm: Daily Debrief

Friday, June 26
7:00 am - 5:30 pm: Registration Open
7:30 - 8:30 am: Continental Breakfast
8:30 - 9:30 am: Series A Workshops
9:45 - 10:45 am: Series B Workshops
11:00 am - 12:00 pm: Series C Workshops
12:00 - 1:30 pm: Research Discussion Luncheon
1:45 - 2:45 pm: Series D Workshops
3:00 am - 4:00 pm: Series E Workshops
4:00 - 5:00 pm: Daily Debrief/Closing Ceremony



Approved Supervision Refresher Course

Angela Lamson, PhD AAMFT Approved Supervisors must take a comprehensive refresher course prior to the renewal of their designation. This session is designed specifically to meet that requirement, and to keep practitioners up-to-date on clinical MFT supervision practice. This course will include case examples, didactic and interactional instruction methods. It will focus on current resources available to supervisors, management of ethical and legal issues likely to arise during supervision, utilization of supervision contracts, cultural competence in supervision and therapy, and discussion of the current AAMFT Approved Supervisor requirements.

Keynote: The State of Systemic Family Therapy

Angela Lamson, PhD, Scott Sells, PhD, Manijeh Daneshpour, PhD, David Treadway, PhD

Intensive 1: Families in Crisis: A Systemic Approach in Treating Man-Made and Natural Disaster Trauma 

War, violence, forced migration. Fire, flood, earthquake. The impact of man-made and natural disasters on the emotional functioning of individuals and families and how failure to receive adequate treatment could result in serious long-term effects. Recent global events have raised awareness of the need for effective treatment. Dr. Daneshpour will discuss why a systemic approach is important with these disasters because it goes beyond the individual by examining macro-systemic social and environmental functioning which embraces the extended system within which the family is embedded.

Dr. Manijeh Daneshpour is the systemwide couple and family therapy director and professor of marriage and family therapy at Alliant International University in California and a licensed marriage and family therapist with more than two decades of academic, research, and clinical experience. She is originally from Iran but has lived in the U.S. for the entirety of her adult life and has received all her academic higher education in the United States. However, she has been very closely and deeply connected to Eastern cultural dynamics and has grown to appreciate the very diverse richness of the Eastern backdrop, particularly as it is juxtaposed with her Western way of life on a daily basis. As an academician, she has taught courses in family therapy theories, couples therapy, family in multicultural contexts, and has supervised students’ internships both at the masters and doctoral levels. As a marriage and family therapist, she has provided numerous hours of couple and family therapy to Western and countless therapy sessions to Eastern families. She has trained Western family therapists to provide culturally sensitive couple and family therapy to Eastern families and Easterners to provide therapy relevant to the current Western cultural context. Dr. Daneshpour's main areas of research, publications, and presentations have been centered on issues of multicultural competencies, gender, war and its impact on immigrants and refugees, social justice, and premarital and marital relationships. She has been a keynote presenter for the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy, National Council of Family Relations, Minnesota Association of Marriage and Family Therapy, as well as California Association of Marriage and Family Therapy and many other organizations bringing the issues of social justice, ethics of care, gender and power, and multicultural competencies to the forefront of the social science field discourses.

Intensive 2: Treating Couples Well: A Practical Guide to Collaborative Couple Therapy

Couples come into treatment presenting a wide array of issues: communication, conflict, sexuality, affairs, parenting, mental illness, substance abuse, multi-generational family problems, etc. Couples often struggle with too many of these issues all at the same time. Dr. Treadway’s innovative collaborative model of organizing couples therapy helps the patients design their own treatment plan. This intensive will demonstrate how to give couples choice whether to work on making changes in the here and now, focus on healing from the wounds of their past, or visit the dynamics of their family of origin. He will discuss how this model helps couples invest in their own treatment, learn how to collaborate respectfully, and tolerate living with unresolved issues while working on changing one aspect of their relationship at a time. In addition to demonstrating this collaborative model of organizing couples treatment, Dr. Treadway will also present a wide range of therapeutic strategies, protocols and interventions for the many typical problems that couples present. A special emphasis will be on how to make “homework” work.

David Treadway, PhD, is a nationally known couple therapist and author who has been teaching workshops and trainings around the USA for the past forty years. Dr Treadway is the author of four other books, as well as an award winning author of over thirty articles. He also has appeared on Good Morning America, 20/20 and numerous other television and radio shows, and did host his own radio program on family communications. Treadway considers his greatest accomplishment as being Kate’s husband of fifty-two years and Michael and Sam’s father and now grandfather to Jacob. His family is truly his life’s work.

Intensive 3: Military and Veteran Health Systems: A Call to Action for Family Therapy

In 2020, the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy published Competencies for Family Therapists Working with Service members, Veterans, and their Families (SMVF) to guide family therapists on a variety of skills needed to extend clinical practice, training, supervision, management, policy, and scholarship to Service members, Veterans and their families. These competencies attend to the roles of family therapists and underscore the importance of family therapists’ competency with respect for systems, biopsychosocial-spiritual health, collaboration, leadership, ethics, and diversity/military culture (American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy [AAMFT], 2020). The systemic training of a family therapist is what affords the greatest innovation and contribution to any family or context, because their multisystemic lens can concurrently see the relational dynamics within the Service member/Veteran relational system in tandem with the numerous systems it engages with. This presentation will include ways in which family therapists can prepare for the future of military and veteran healthcare. Competencies for Family Therapists Working with Service members, Veterans, and their Families will be discussed, including the focus on optimization with warfighters, retirees, and their families through traditional therapy sessions and integrated behavioral health opportunities. This workshop will include research informed examples, clinical and supervisory scenarios, and an application that is most fitting for attendees work context and the population they serve.

Angela Lamson, PhD is a Professor and co-creator of the Medical Family Therapy doctoral program at East Carolina University. In addition, she serves as Associate Dean for Research for the College of Health and Human Performance. Her research foci include integrated behavioral health care with military, veteran, underserved, minority, and rural populations/families. She has secured over 4M in external funding, including Department of Defense. She is co-editor of two textbooks and author of over 100 peer reviewed articles and invited book chapters. She is an inaugural member of the executive committee for the Alliance of Military and Veteran Family Behavioral Health Providers and a primary author of the Competencies for Family Therapists Working with Service members, Veterans, and their Families (2020).

Intensive 4: Treating the Traumatized Family: A Family Systems Approach

Too often, traumatized children are treated apart from their broader support system of parents, family, friends, or community. The family systems trauma model (FST) integrates structural-strategic theory with step-by-step tools involving trauma playbooks or strategic directives to restructure traumatized child and their families using enactments and new techniques such as undercurrents, stress charts, and an apple tree metaphor. In this workshop, participants will receive concrete tools from the Treating the Traumatized Child book and research studies necessary to quickly engage the parent and child through what are called “motivational phone calls”, diagnoses and assessments through “stress charts”, the use of “trauma playbooks” to heal both childhood and family trauma in the here and now from high level structural-strategic underpinnings. Strategic role plays and video examples from real cases will be illustrated to master the timing and application of these family system trauma techniques along with handouts that can be used the next day at work. Clear touchpoints between structural-strategic theory, trauma, and practical application with handouts and manualization bridge eclectic techniques to advanced integrative practice.

Scott Sells holds a PhD in both Marriage and Family Therapy and Social Work from Florida State University. He has over 20 publications and has authored three books entitled: Treating the Traumatized Child: A Step-by-Step Family Systems Approach (Springer Publishing, 2017), Treating the Tough Adolescent: A Family-Based, Step-by-Step Guide (Guilford Press, 1998) and Parenting Your Out-of-Control Teenager: 7 Steps to Reestablish Authority and Reclaim Love (St. Martin’s Press, 2001). Scott specializes in working with impossible or stuck cases whose families have not been successful with other counselors. Scott was a former Professor of Social Work at Savannah State University in Savannah, GA and Associate Professor at UNLV in Las Vegas, NV. He founded the Parenting with Love and Limits (PLL) model that is being used across the US and Europe. Scott enjoys hiking in Montana, writing, spending quality time with God, and being a husband to his wife, and parent to his twin boys: David and Jonathan.

Research Discussion Luncheon

IPV Perpetration: A Meta-Analysis of Risk Markers Across the Globe 
Chelsea Spencer, PhD Sandra Stith, PhD Bryan Cafferky, PhD
This study provides a comprehensive overview of risk markers for intimate partner violence (IPV) perpetration for men and women around the world. This information can provide clinicians with information on factors that may help with assessment and treatment when working with individuals who have perpetrated IPV in past or current relationships.

The Color of Violence: Black Women’s Experiences with IPV
Lorin Kelly, MA Chelsea Spencer, PhD
This session will describe the significant differences related to risk markers for IPV between predominately Black and predominately White populations, which has yet to be examined through a meta-analysis. This research will then be translated into clinical implications for clinicians working with Black women who have experienced IPV.

Globalization & Intimate Partner Violence: A Meta-Regression
Brooke Keilholtz Chelsea Spencer, PhD
Using Dutton’s (1995) nested ecological model for IPV, this session will discuss the results from a meta-regression examining how macrosystem-level factors (globalization and country fragility) impact risk markers for intimate partner violence perpetration at the ontogenetic, microsystem, and exosystem levels. This will allow therapists to conceptualize how these broader influences can impact the individual and relationship.

Series A-E

A-1: An Integrative Model of Affair Recovery

Tina Timm, PhD Adrian Blow, PhD
Infidelity is one of the most difficult presenting issues in couple therapy because of the emotional intensity, the complicated systemic issues, and the lack of evidence-based treatments on which to rely. There is evidence that infidelity has a significant attachment basis, and certainly can be conceptualized as an attachment injury in relationships. The presenters will describe a relational approach to treatment based in post-traumatic growth theory and attachment theory, showing how couples can grow stronger after the experience. The emphasis will be upon providing clinicians with key principles that are necessary for working with these couples and will integrate the latest research on mindfulness and self-compassion to help rebuild trust, foster secure attachment, and restore a connecting sexual relationship.

A-2: Third Order Ethics: Sociocultural Attunement in Everyday Practice

Teresa McDowell, EdD
This workshop is designed for advanced family therapists to explore issues of equity and ethics in everyday practice. Participants will be invited to consider how third-order thinking challenges what we consider ethical by exploring the nuances of power inherent in meaning making from a socioculturally attuned perspective. It can be challenging to facilitate meaningful conversations that promote cultural equity across diverse social locations related to race, gender, sexual orientation, social class, and abilities. Third-order thinking brings the ethics of everyday clinical decisions to the forefront by identifying the impact of societal systems, culture, and power on our ethical positioning, which inherently guides our clinical practice. This presentation will center sociocultural attunement as foundational to ethical practice and offer ANVIET (i.e., attune, name, value, interrupt, envision, transform) guidelines for equity-based ethical practice.

A-3: Training the Skilled International Family Therapist

Laurie Charles, PhD
Global mental health initiatives are quite declarative in their assertion that systemic, family‐based mental health and psychosocial support contributes to a population’s well‐being. As a movement and contemporary practice, global mental health is particularly focused on bridging gaps in the field of mental health, whether across high‐income countries (HICs) or low‐ and middle‐income countries (LMICs). The expansive reach of global mental health continues with the inclusion of mental health in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2016—the UN goals by which global agreements gear their metrics for development. However, in this entirety of literature, critical thinking, implementation, and analysis, systemic family therapy (SFT) as a profession has been noticeably quiet. Yet, the history of systemic family therapy, its robust reflexivity and adaptive methods, and the ecological mindset so consistent with many other concepts in global mental health, makes it a perfect complement. This workshop will illustrate methods to advance seasoned and emerging practitioners' skills in working effectively on the international plane, specifically in global mental health. Training family therapists to meet the demands of this fascinating, challenging, and complex area of work requires proactive teaching, training and development that goes beyond culture and nation, with a multidimensional understanding of social justice. It requires collaboration, knowledge transfer, and humility--and it is in that spirit with which the presenter will approach this workshop.

B-1: BSFT: Cognitive, Affective, and Behavioral Change

Olga Hervis, MSW Silvia Kaminsky, MSEd
Brief Strategic Family Therapy® (BSFT®) is an empirically validated model for treating youth ages 6 – 18 presenting with externalizing and/or internalizing symptoms. This workshop will present its systemic, diagnostic and restructuring elements via didactics and videotaped demonstrations. Brief Strategic Family Therapy® (BSFT®) is an empirically validated model for treating youth ages 6 – 18 with both internalizing and externalizing symptomatology, empirically developed and rigorously tested over a 40 year span. BSFT is notable as an evidence-based model specifically designed for diverse cultural populations. The model’s theoretical underpinnings encompass the most widely taught and clinically practiced family systems approaches (structural and strategic) and utilizes an innovative family systems diagnostic framework that can be easily learned by therapists. From this systemic diagnostic schema, family therapists can then design a strategic and brief therapy-oriented treatment plan. This complex, yet compact model has allowed agencies to transform their treatment paradigm for youth and families to a systemic perspective. Attendees will learn the model elements and domains that contribute to therapeutic effectiveness and brevity; as well as implementation adaptations necessary for agencies and practices to build a competent clinical staff and deliver effective services.

B-2: Taming Buffaloes: Family Play Therapy for Disruptive Behaviors

Michael Whitehead, PhD
Disruptive Behavior Disorders (ADHD, ODD, CD, ASD, etc.) tend to be the most sought out concerns for families and schools. Treating DBD's is difficult and requires a combination of experience, training, and intuition. The combination of systemic therapy with play therapy techniques helps bridge the gaps that are often present in treating these disorders.Using a theory driven approach, participants will explore how circular causality, triangulation, and paradoxical interdependence reinforce disruptive behaviors. The presenter will demonstrate how child-centered play therapy, filial play therapy, and directed play therapy utilize these systemic principles to create renewed homeostasis for families with a child(ren) who have disruptive behaviors.

C-1: The Butterfly Effect: Systemic Ethical Decision Making

Heather Katafiasz, PhD Rikki Patton, PhD
Marriage and Family Therapists (MFTs) constantly engage in ethical decision-making while working with complicated client systems. Prior scholarship has indicated that MFTs are clearly attuned to the ethical imperative of maintaining ethics at the forefront of their professional practice. However, while there are several ethical decision-making models in the mental health and other health professions, they do not fully address the ethical nuances of MFTs engaging in relational-systemic practice with individual and relational clients. The extant models provide a solid foundation from which MFTs can glean strategies for engaging in ethical decision-making. However, there is a need for an MFT-specific ethical decision-making model that accounts for the complexities associated with relational-systemic practice. Thus, the this presentation will provide a critical review of the literature on ethical decision-making with respect to the MFT field and propose a MFT-specific ethical decision-making model. More specifically, this presentation will provide a definition and overview of ethical decision-making, differentiating practical from specialty ethical decision-making models. Further, this presentation will discuss the unique aspects to the relational-systemic work of MFTs and will propose an ethical decision-making model that more clearly infuses strategies for managing ethical challenges in relational-systemic therapy.

C-2: What's the Point of Living if I Can’t be a Mother: Infertility & Narrative

Valeria Chriqui Iman Dadras, PhD
According to the World Health Organization culture serves as language for stigma and rejection to those who suffer from infertility. In some cultures, reproduction is critical for acceptance in the system; if a partner fails to deliver, hardship consequences can be implemented to the infertile partner. The National Infertility Association recognizes the inability to have children as a major life crisis impacting at the individual and family level. So, it is imperative to understand how language can have an impact in this vulnerable population. The purpose of this workshop is to inform professionals in the mental health field about conceptualization of treatment for these individuals. It will help clinicians in the field to conceptualize these cases through the use of non-pathological language.

D-1: In the Absence of Family: Lives Shaped by Loss

Alice Lynn, MA
In "Living Through Loss", Hooyman and Kramer wrote, "Some losses are so profound and life changing that the grief never completely ends, with its intensity, acuteness, and form ebbing and flowing over time. I n such instances, 'getting over it' may not be possible. once we have lost, we always live to varying degrees in the presence of grief." This workshop will provide an in-depth exploration of the lasting effects of the incalculable loss of family on the individual. Research on the changing American family, where increasingly more individuals will be without family sometime in their lives, will be interwoven with life-affirming stories and inquiry into how one survives and overcomes the presence of absence. Participants will be able to identify ways of working with their clients, bringing a newfound depth of understanding, exposing emotions that have been kept hidden and never addressed.

D-2: The Myth of Independence Needs a Corrective Relational Experience!

John Souza, MA Dara Downs
We exist not because we are “independent”, but rather because we are interdependent. The Corrective Relational Experience (CRE) Model © counteracts the myth of independence and may be used to improve any given human system’s relational functioning. Developed out of family therapy with emerging adults in an outdoor behavioral healthcare program in Hawai’i, the CRE model may be used in virtually any setting to enhance a human system’s relational functioning and ability to be intentionally interdependent. Following a discussion of the potential dangers of the myth of independence so prevalent in Western societies, didactic and experiential activities will allow attendees to learn what skills (and in what order) to employ to encourage clients to have their own CRE. Original research on an intensive two-day multi-family therapy program employing the CRE will be offered to suggest swift improvements in family functioning may be achieved by focusing on a system’s interpersonal neurobiological patterns of communication. The implications of this data include the opportunity to better train clinicians to support clients and other stakeholders to more effectively be in relationship with one another. This in turn, can have broad reaching implications, including improved global climate health.

E-1: Mitigating Neophyte Therapists’ Anxiety in Clinical Supervision

Heather Katafiasz, PhD Rikki Patton, PhD
Literature has identified that anxiety in neophyte therapists can have negative impacts on their clinical development. However, a paucity of literature has addressed how to attenuate this anxiety within supervision. This workshop will work to close that gap by discussing how that anxiety can be attenuated through clinical supervision. Specifically, this workshop with discuss of the sources of that anxiety, methods for measurement and tracking of that anxiety, as well as interventions that can be utilized in clinical supervision to mitigate neophyte therapists’ anxiety. The isomorphic relationship between therapeutic anxiety and supervision anxiety will be discussed in relation to the techniques identified. Reflections and lessons learned by the workshop presenters from providing supervision to neophyte therapists at a Marriage and Family Therapy Training Program will be provided to better elucidate the points discussed. The format of this proposed workshop will be a combination of didactic components to provide foundational concepts and experiential activities to help the attendees elucidate the concepts discussed.

E-2: Family Matters: A Systems View of Substance Use Disorders Treatment

Melody Bacon, PhD Ronald Bacon, MDiv
The devastation of addiction cuts a wide swath through the lives of those struggling with substance use disorders (SUDs) and those who love them. The dreaded midnight phone call bearing bad news is the ultimate source of countless sleepless nights. And yet, for the most part, families struggling with a loved one with an SUD have been either criticized as the cause, ignored as inconsequential or told that their actions or in actions are making matters worse. While most treatment programs include a family program, this is viewed as ancillary and, at times, non-essential to the treatment of the addict. As the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has advocated in the publication “Substance Abuse Treatment and Family Therapy” (NIH, 2004), it is time to integrate the approach of family therapy with the treatment of SUDs. This workshop will present an integrative approach to treatment. Based on the ideas of Bowen Family Systems therapy and the principles of the 12-step movement, the Family Matters program offers a model that addresses the needs of families struggling with addiction while at the same time creating a relational environment that supports recovery.

Research Discussion Luncheon

Comparing the Well-Being of Binary Transgender and Non-Binary People
Katelyn Coburn, MS Chelsea Spencer, PhD Lorin Kelly, MA

This submission takes an advanced look at factors associated with well-being for two marginalized groups (i.e. transgender and non-binary people. Therapeutic implications will be framed within an advanced understanding of Narrative Therapy informed by queer theory that clinicians can use when working with transgender and non-binary clients. Implications for working with families with trans and non-binary members will be discussed.

Becoming an LGBT-Affirming Christian: A Grounded Theory
Gena Minnix, MA
This presentation is geared toward MFT educators and supervisors, and provides an overview of the first known research-based theory to guide the training and supervision of non-affirming or conflicted Christian trainees struggling to reconcile LGBTQ+ affirmation with their religious beliefs and develop competency to work with LGBTQ+ couples and families in accordance with MFT ethical standards of practice.

Treatment and Conceptualization of Mixed-Orientation Couples
Joshua Gebhardt, MS Kirstee Williams, PhD 
Treatment and conceptualization regarding systemic approaches to relational therapy with mixed-orientation in couples is an essential and advanced practice. The content in this presentation is directed towards professionals who are looking to deepen their understanding of the expression of sexuality within the relationship context. Strengthening clinical approaches, cultivating systemic exploration, and improving expert skills are to be gained by participants.

Fee Structure

Refresher Course

AAMFT Members:
Early: $260.00
Late (after April 17): $310.00


Early: $360.00
Late (after April 17): $410.00


AAMFT Members:
Early: $550.00
Late (after April 17): $650.00

Early: $650.00
Late (after April 17): $750.00


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Discover Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa, a beachfront hotel with unparalleled service, thoughtful amenities and sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean. Located next to Diamond Head Crater, the resort boasts 5.2 oceanfront acres with swaying palm trees and unique shops. Explore an array of Honolulu attractions, including Pearl Harbor, the zoo and Waikiki Aquarium. Play in the surf, relax with a poolside drink or pamper yourself at the day spa. Let the Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa sweep you off your feet.

AAMFT Discounted rates: Single/Double Occupancy: $240.00 Triple/Quad Occupancy: $330.00 / $420.00

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Cancellation Policy

Cancellations and any subsequent request for refund must be made in writing by May 15, 2020. Upon cancellation, you have the right to request that your fee (in full) be held (for up to one year) and used toward application to another AAMFT event registration. If you prefer a refund, cancellations made prior to May 15, 2020 will receive a 50% refund. No refunds will be offered after May 15, 2020.