Highlights from the Psychotherapy Networker Conference

Highlights from the Psychotherapy Networker Conference

I just recently returned from the Psychotherapy Networker Symposium that took place March 22-24, in Washington, DC! As you may know, I like to share tidbits after I attend and present at conferences.

I had not been to the Networker in many years, and most of this year’s conference experience was delightful. It was exciting to attend quality workshops, to present to eager therapists, and to talk to exhibitors about their take on the state of our profession.

Zach Taylor kicked off the conference with a heartfelt reminder that we can all feel pride in our chosen profession.

Some standout takeaways
1. Susan Cain and David Kessler’s dialogue about Susan’s new book, Bittersweet: How Sorrow and Longing Make Us Whole

Susan asked, “Do you ever find joy on a rainy day?” She emphasized how our culture has been blind to the value of melancholic states. She described the need to talk with clients about beauty, longing and despair. She finds it scary not to be able to look at the dark side of life and she stressed that the experience of joy comes with maintaining an awareness of the impermanence of life.

I’d like to know… do you ever find joy on a rainy day? If so, please share an experience you value in the comment section below.

2. Couples and Their Careers: When Love and Work Collide

Alexandra Solomon did an extensive job highlighting the role of work in undermining a couples’ connection. It’s a topic that is often neglected in the clinical literature. Yet, what couples’ therapist hasn’t heard complaints like these from couples?“You work too many hours.”

“You should earn more.”

“Go get a job.”

When one partner does well financially at work, it gives extra resources to the couple. And when one partner gets fired, is underpaid or suffers from burnout, it will inevitably be demoralizing for the couple.

Alexandra ended her talk describing common pairings like:
The Slasher (risk taker) and the Traditionalist

The Coaster (who can live in the now) and the Climber (who is always striving)

Her talk was a wake-up call to me to pay more careful attention to how couples manage their workload. Because I appreciate what she inspired me to contemplate, I plan to invite her to do a Bonus Call for our training community. Bonus Calls are the part of our training where I invite various professionals to share their expertise so we can see how different approaches and ideas blend with the Developmental Model.

3. Polyvagal Theory

Spending time with Deb Dana was another conference highlight for me. She’s another colleague I will invite to present a Bonus Call!

My favorite part of her workshop was her focus on the Power of Micro-Moments. She emphasized savoring past, present, and future positive moments to help clients return to a ventral state more quickly. Even savoring for 15-20 seconds can make a difference.

The second type of micro-moments are glimmers. Glimmers are tiny moments of ventral energy. While they do not stop trauma triggers, they do enable broadening perception. She suggested we ask clients and ourselves to write a glimmer intention such as, “I am ready to see/hear glimmers when they show up.”

I would enjoy reading about your own glimmer intentions in the comments below.

4. Last Chance Couples Therapy

The last workshop I attended was about ambivalent couples with Peter Fraenkel. I’ve known about Peter for years, but never had the opportunity to see him present. He dissected how to start with couples where one wants to leave and the other wants to save the marriage.

He discussed multiple ways to privilege the voice of the ambivalent partner. Here are a few…

Ask the couple if they can come to therapy and hold open the possibility of multiple outcomes.

  • Are they able to do some positive homework or is their fear of things improving too big to allow for new behavior?
  • Can they try and still leave?
  • Can they reframe this crisis as a learning opportunity?

My favorite part of Peter’s workshop was his emphasis on using our techniques as a bridge to values.

You may have heard my husband, Pete Pearson and I often discuss asking partners, “How do you want to be in this discussion?” or “What kind of relationship do you care about creating?” Peter Fraenkel emphasized asking partners, “What is the constellation of values you would like to guide you?” 

When partners stay conscious of the values guiding them, they are more likely to do homework and practice new behaviors.

5. A Personal Highlight from Us

I planned a big surprise for Pete! On Saturday night, he thought the two of us were going to dinner at a nearby restaurant. But when we arrived at our table, our daughters Molly and Tami, from California and Nevada, were there waiting for us.

Pete was speechless for several minutes – and if you know Pete that never happens!

Then the 4 of us spent a few days visiting Civil War sites (American history being one of Pete’s many passions) while staying in a house built in 1789.

We were also graced with the magnificence of the cherry blossoms being in bloom. We stopped along the way to smell the flowers!

It was a wonderful ending to a meaningful conference.

I hope you will find some gems here to support your work. Next month I’ll give you some takeaways from the two workshops I led at Networker.

I always look forward to reading your comments. And this conference article has a couple of interesting prompts, so I hope you’ll share a personal tidbit.

Have something to say?

Subscribe
Notify of
guest

23 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Mark
Mark

You guys are clearly great modelers of “paideia”: lifelong learning that pays special attention to the spirit or essence of things. And Molly is the embodiment of that pursuit.

Annette Kreuz
Annette Kreuz

a thoughtful post on personal/professional resonances. Thanks for sharing. much appreciated.

cynthia ashton
cynthia ashton

Thank you! Your notes are generous and usable and touching. I appreciate you sharing them.

Gail
Gail

It is nice to hear your take-aways from this conference and your personal experiences (i.e. Pete’s surprise and the photo). I attended online and was very pleased with the conference overall. The content was quite juicy and I went away with several gems. I especially liked the information on working with the polyvagal response. Several presenters talked about this. Janine Fisher did a great piece on shame as a polyvagal response. Thanks for these highlights. Gail

. Tammy Nelson
. Tammy Nelson

It was lovely to see you both there!

Theresa D.
Theresa D.

Sounds like it was a very rewarding conference! I’m already looking forward to the special training with Alexandra Solomon! I can’t say enough positive words about Peter Fraenkel’s newest book on Last Chance Couple Therapy. Thanks for sharing the wonderful tidbits with us!

Melissa Goldbach
Melissa Goldbach

Thank you for sharing! Can’t wait to hear more about your portion from the conference!

Lani McKenna
Lani McKenna

I lost my husband in 2021 and I am grateful to experience and better understand the grief journey and what words and gestures I really appreciate now. I started a peer support widows group because I knew I needed it, as a believer & admirer of group, work, I realize anew the uniqueness of each person’s perspectives – and response to the same type of (words & gestures) offerings … I am comforted though in sharing my journey with others who grieve, as unique an experience as theirs may be- the sharing connects us & lifts us up.

Maria Wasielewski
Maria Wasielewski

What a wonderful and thoughtful surprise for Pete and the house must have been really interesting as a historical experience! Thank you for sharing your conference experiences too, I think inviting those presenters for bonus calls is a great way to spread the word and to give us all a chance to learn more about sorrow, careers, polyvagal therapy and last chance work with our couples! You are modeling an open approach to your work that is a great example of true social interest! I am grateful for being able to be a part of the CIT community. I wish all of you a healthy and flower filled spring.

SCD
SCD

Thank you for the highlights, most interesting.

Sue
Sue

Oh what a sweet ending to this marvelous recap. You have peaked my interest in a few things here. Absolutely love the surprise – and I can see why it left Pete speechless. So beautiful.

Yi Zhao Martins
Yi Zhao Martins

My beautiful orchids on the work desk next to my ipad and mac when I work, I glance at it and enjoys its beauty.
I light scented candles on rainy days, for the warmth and scent.

Debra Douglas
Debra Douglas

I loved seeing the three of you together on the plane!!

Geeta
Geeta

Hi Dr so nice to read all this message. My problem is I want to save my marriage this year will be 24 years since we got married. My husband has 56yr old now I saw his bad habits . He has a friend that can’t he share a lot of things, in his work. But fortunately I talk to this lady she told me she was just a friend. My husband has a great affection with her. I am very jealous.. My husband keeps telling me I will not message her 2 days ok. After that he message her without telling me. But fortunately this lady call me. When I asked him he didn’t agree. Now he thinks that I’m not his soul mate. What to do dr. It’s painful to live with this kind of life. Hope that u will find a good life. Pls help me.

Susan M Rugari
Susan M Rugari

Responding about glimmers–my response is about experiencing a glimmer moment today, April 8, 2024. I live in Texas in the path of 100% totality for the solar eclipse that occurred today. I am grateful that all I had to do was go out to the yard and sit in a chair. I watched the process of the moon covering the sun from beginning to end. I noticed when the amount of light shifted slightly due to more of the sun being covered, the resulting coolness in temperature, and when all was in darkness when the moon completely covered the sun. The darkness was like that at dusk and lasted about 3 minutes 16 seconds (which went by really fast!). Like at dusk, the street lights came on!
I shared this glimmer moment with my husband, our friends we were texting, in watching a family who stopped along the road to experience the event, and with millions of other people who live in or traveled to a location in the path of totality. It was incredible and still brings goose bumps to me to think about how many people were connected in feeling safe, calm, curious, and other positive emotions. Expressions from the reporters in the news and those they interviewed were about the wonder and joy of this experience. In a world full of experiences that activate fight/flight/freeze responses, this is truly a moment to celebrate the glimmer experienced by a community of people connected to each other in a socially engaged state by the once-in-a-lifetime event offered by nature.

Donna C Vogeler-Boutin
Donna C Vogeler-Boutin

I’m been feeling very melancholic for several days as I fear my 19 year old cat is going to leave me soon. In this melancholy, I’ve spent time feeling my feelings rise up and the tears come. I’ve given these feelings my full attention. I have walked down memory lane – as I’m doing at this moment as I write and the tears are arriving. Remembering all the places she has been with me. She was born in Romania and I got her when I lived in Germany. She was 6 months old. She has traveled with my husband and I on numerous road trips and she has spent summers with my son in Seattle while we explored the Alaska Highway to Anchorage as well as just this last summer when we lived in the Northwest during the hot summer. These melancholy moments are a tribute to her life with me and I will miss her when she passes – tears falling……

Anne O'Connor
Anne O'Connor

Rainy days feel like a gift. Settle down, warm drink and a good book. That does hit the spot that might be called longing. I will think about that.

Patricia
Patricia

Love hearing perspectives of this work ! Thank You Pete ! Always( for me) something rich to hold onto.
To life long learning !!!

Deborah Birch-Gaytan
Deborah Birch-Gaytan

On rainy days bringing joy or, in this case, relief – a client of mine with anxiety told me that she felt relief on a recent rainy day because she didn’t put pressure on herself to leave her apartment or feel like there was something else she should be doing. She could just be at home. I noticed in listening to her that I felt calm and shared in her gratitude of the rain.

I look forward to the bonus calls you mentioned with others who presented as this conference.

Denise Winkel
Denise Winkel

Thank you for sharing these gold nuggets of inspiration from several presentations. Can feel your passion for the work!

Annette Shobika
Annette Shobika

Always get to take away some brilliance from your posts to practice in my sessions. Ellen gives me the courage and motivation to explore Couple therapy, Thank you!!!

Kathryn Mattison
Kathryn Mattison

These synopses really resonated for me. There is so much messaging in our culture around “happiness”; being happy, pursuing happiness, cultivating happiness. The pressure to be “happydappydoo” borders on sickness imo. Wholeness requires that we embrace the full catastrophe. We would have no great literature, poetry, or music without it. Identifying and living our values, awake and attuned to the glimmers when they arise, is foundational to a meaningful life.

Lori Zornado
Lori Zornado

Thank you Ellyn for these highlights! Alexander Solomon and Deb Dana as Bonus Calls would be amazing! I hope to make it to a conference one day to meet all you lovely people face to face! I have glimmer moments watching Monarch Butterflies emerge from their chrysalis every summer from my Butterfly factory (garden). It is such a reminder of the when we stand on the corner of fierceness and fragility. I’ve released over 1000 Monarchs in the past 3 years. Glimmer glimmer glimmer. Thank you for sharing your surprise for Pete!

Dr. Ellyn Bader

Dr. Ellyn Bader is Co-Founder & Director of The Couples Institute and creator of The Developmental Model of Couples Therapy. Ellyn is widely recognized as an expert in couples therapy, and since 2006 she has led innovative online training programs for therapists. Professionals from around the world connect with her through internet, conference calls and blog discussions to study couples therapy. Ellyn’s first book, "In Quest of the Mythical Mate," won the Clark Vincent Award by the California Association of Marriage & Family Therapists for its outstanding contribution to the field of marital therapy and is now in its 18th printing. She has been featured on over 50 radio and television programs including "The Today Show" and "CBS Early Morning News," and she has been quoted in many publications including "The New York Times," "The Oprah Magazine" and "Cosmopolitan."

Read Other Popular Articles

Here are the Zoom Details to Join the Call Live:

One tap mobile :

US: +16465588656, 82302466709# or +16469313860, 82302466709#

Telephone (US):

+1 301 715 8592
+1 312 626 6799
+1 346 248 7799
+1 646 558 8656
+1 669 900 6833
+1 253 215 8782

Webinar ID: 82302466709

International numbers available

We will send out an email reminder on the day of the call.
There will be a replay available within 24 hours.

Learn from a pioneer and leader in couples therapy training as she shares exactly what to say in difficult therapy sessions.
We respect your privacy.
We won't sell or rent your infomation to 3rd party marketers.
Msg & data rates may apply for text messages.