Wholehearted Symposium 2012

Wholehearted Symposium 2012

Our first annual Wholehearted Therapist, Wholehearted Families Symposium was a great success! Turnout was high, the atmosphere was warm, the food was delicious and we all watched through floor-to-ceiling windows as a breathtakingly beautiful snow blanketed the St. John’s College campus while we came together for 6 hours of wholehearted reminders. Thank you to everyone who joined us for that very special event!

Time: 8:45-9:45 am | Course Title: “Wholehearted Clinical Practice: Strengthening the Therapist to Bear the Unbearable”

Instructor: Apryl Miller, LISW

CEU: (A) 1 CEU in Ethics or Supervision of Supervision or Cultural Competency/Diversity

Effective therapeutic process is first and foremost based on the development of healthy, fully-integrated therapists who are able to utilize theoretic knowledge, skillfully facilitate the process in the room, and respectfully join with clients from diverse backgrounds. With this foundation in place the family is invited to share the often unmentionable story of their lives, while the therapist holds the hope and sheds light on the path toward change. All to often this process is impeded by therapists who are physically and emotionally exhausted, unable to access enriching supervision, burdened by the enormity of their clients’ pain, embroiled in agency conflict, and disconnected from the support of colleagues in part by chronic staff turnover. The disheartened therapist often transmits their despair to their work ethic and the treatment of clients. This presentation will focus on training and supervision that foster the development of wholehearted therapists who can bear the unbearable without losing their souls in the process. This presentation will also focus on essential work environments that sustain supportive supervision, build community among staff thereby enable therapist to engage wholeheartedly with families who are dealing with a full range of issues and life threatening crises.

Apryl Miller, LISW, was instrumental in the creation of the SKY center and currently serves as the Clinical Director of the SKY Family Therapy Training Center in Santa Fe. Her background includes working on various national research projects focusing on mood disorders, suicidal behavior in youth and the development of protective factors for youth at risk. She has had a special interest in removing barriers that limit access to treatment and promoting systemic family treatment models that build connections between family members. Additionally, she served on faculty for nearly a decade at the College of Santa Fe and taught as adjunct for various graduate departments in the area. She maintains a small private practice while striving to maintain a wholehearted approach in her personal life as well as in her teaching and therapy practice.


Time: 10:00 am-12:00 pm | Course Title: “The Ethics of Presence: Developing an Alliance of Wholehearted Minds”

Instructor: M.Kate Reynolds, LPCC

CEU: (B) 2 CEUs in Ethics or Supervision of Supervision

If our intention is to help clients become more integrated in their brains, coherent in their minds, empathetic in their relationships, and resilient in their lives, as ethical clinicians we must simultaneously be training to do the same. As research suggests, the presence of the clinician influences the therapeutic process, just as the presence of parents influences the well being of their children. We will examine the systemic nature of the therapist’s ability to model and teach mindfulness to parents/guardians who in turn are able to model and teach mindfulness to their children. This workshop will present the theoretical underpinnings and ethical considerations of a mindfulness-based family therapy approach, as well as several experiential tools for both therapists and families.

M. Kate Reynolds, MA, LPCC, has been involved with The New Mexico Suicide Intervention Project for 14 years. Currently, she is a clinical supervisor at the SKY Center and leads their comprehensive, agency-wide Mindfulness Project. She is the co-founder and director of the Santa Fe Center for Mindfulness where she teaches Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy. She researched and created a mindfulness-based stress reduction approach for working with parents, having taught the “Joy of Mindful Parenting” for several years in both Santa Fe and Albuquerque. Kate has a family-based private practice in Santa Fe.


Time: 10:00am-12:00 pm | Course Title: “The Strategic Disempowerment of Suicide: Engaging Families Toward a New Ethical Narrative”

Instructor: Don McAvinchey, LISW

CEU: (C) 2 CEUs in Ethics or Cultural Competency/ Diversity

Through the application of Narrative Therapy, Strategic Family Therapy, and Whitaker’s theories around “permission-breaking,” attendees will learn about a therapeutic approach that has been successful in ending suicidal traditions in families’ lives, across diverse cultures. Overwhelming evidence points to the multi-generational nature of suicidal invasion in a family the moment it enters and succeeds in claiming a life. This therapeutic approach ends that tradition through withdrawing permission and support, declaring suicide’s end, and joining as a family and at times the larger community in support of life as a choice. Videos of family sessions in which this approach was utilized will be shown and the foundational theories discussed and applied. You will walk out empowered to engage families with this life-changing method.

Don McAvinchey, LISW, has been working as a counselor, family therapist, supervisor, trainer and coach since 1974. His focus in Narrative Therapy has led him to develop creative approaches to some of life’s most difficult problems, and come out the other side with humor, compassion, humility and a huge sense of fun. He currently serves as a supervisor at the SKY Family Therapy Training Center and maintains a private practice. He is the father of four young adults and grandpa to one young grandson.

Time: 12:00-1:00 pm Catered lunch on the premises.

Time:1:15-3:15 pm | Course Title: “When Sacred Cows Give Sour Milk: Moving from Blind Adherence to Mature Judgment in Supervision”

Instructor: Melissa Leehan, LISW

CEU: (B) 2 CEUs in Ethics or Supervision of Supervision

This workshop will explore how supervisors and clinicians can move beyond just the written codes of ethics toward the development of an inner moral compass which can guide the supervisor through a myriad of slippery supervisory dilemmas. Using case material, particular attention will be given to helping participants see beneath the rigid “letter of the law” and instead explore the “spirit of the law” in order to become a more wholehearted supervisor.

Melissa Leehan, MA, LMFT, has been a psychotherapist for over 40 years and currently practices in Santa Fe. She is both a Clinical Member and an Approved Supervisor in the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists and was Clinical Director of an AAMFT accredited training program in Indianapolis before moving West. En route to Santa Fe for her supposed retirement, she took a three year detour and worked on the Navajo Indian Reservation in the Mental Health Clinic at the Indian Health Service. Melissa was a founding member of the Indianapolis Gestalt Institute and is currently a Clinical Supervisor at the SKY Center as well as a private practice therapist.

Time: 1:15 pm-3:15 pm | Course Title: “Cultivating Change through Connection: Wholehearted Groups for Youth”

Instructor: Mikahla Beutler, LPCC

CEU: (C) 2 CEUs in Ethics or Cultural Competency/ Diversity

Focusing on youth, this workshop will explore, through discussions and experiential activities, how the developmental phases of a group provide participants with a somatic experience of relationship. Reflected in this process is the courageous initiation of connection, the development of trust and expectation and the often difficult but normal grief from separation. This workshop will examine a systemic group model that integrates therapeutic process, support, and psycho-education for delivering and practicing much needed life skills such as the building and sustaining of healthy relationships, problem solving and goal setting skills, school smarts, stress management, and substance abuse reduction, to name a few. With attention to the implications of working with a culturally diverse population, we will explore how to collaborate with youth to develop culturally-relevant norms for a group. Though our focus will be on clinical skills used in youth-based groups, much of the content of the workshop will easily apply to clinical family work as well. If you like to move around a little, interact with your cohorts, and have tools to travel with, this workshop is for you!

Mikahla Beutler, LPCC, currently serves as a clinical supervisor at the SKY Family Therapy Training Center and as mental health counselor at Santa Fe Preparatory School. She has worked on several CDC-funded research projects measuring the efficacy of interventions with depressed and suicidal adolescents from culturally diverse populations. She has developed curriculum for use with student groups and presented trainings for school based health providers primarily focusing on strengthening resiliency skills through resource development.

Time: 3:30-4:30 pm | Course Title: “Strengthening Families to Bear the Unbearable: Engaging Wholeheartedness in Families”

Instructor: Apryl Miller, LISW

CEU: (A) 1 CEU in Ethics or Supervision of Supervision or Cultural Competency/Diversity

We are all aware of the numerous stressors that families deal with on a daily basis and the pain that comes from disconnection, hopelessness and ongoing conflict in their lives. And of course, many families are faced with what often feels unbearable – serious mental health struggles, substance abuse and the risk of suicide. This closing talk will address ways in which therapists can engage families to use therapy as a restorative sanctuary, helping families to rekindle their values, create sustainable connections with each other that provide a circle of care over time, practice new ways of communicating and find ways to simplify family life while assuring protection for their children.


Time: 4:30 pm Q and A, Evaluations