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Annual Conference Features Expert in Couples

Lorenz Clinic announces its Fifth Annual Invited Practitioner Conference. This year’s conference will be held Friday, November 5, 2021 and will feature Dr. Anthony Chambers, a leader within the Couples and Family Psychology specialty, and expert on therapy with multiracial couples and systems-oriented therapy. Dr. Chambers will present his APA-published work on assessing couples distress in systemic context. The presentation will have important implications for all clinicians working with special populations and providing justice-focused care, not just those seeing couples.

Lorenz hosts an Annual Invited Practitioner series, an annual conference that invites internationally recognized scientist-practitioners to help bring science to practice on Main Street. Along with bi-weekly consultation and over 100 in-house continuing education hours each year, this conference is open to the regional provider community and contributes to a rich professional ecology for staff and trainees alike and enlivens work at all levels of the organization.  To register for this event, visit the event page here.

Conference Summary:

The current trend in professional psychology education calls for trainees to be evaluated on the basis of core functional and foundational competencies (Fouad et al., 2009). Despite calls for competency-based training in couple and family psychology (CFP; e.g., Kaslow, Celano & Stanton, 2009) and couple and family therapy (Celano, Smith & Kaslow, 2010), only recently has there been attention to the knowledge-, skill-, and attitude-base that a psychologist must possess in order to achieve specialty status as a CFP (Stanton & Welsh, 2011). As the field of CFP matures and more Psychologists move towards specialization in professional psychology, training models are needed that can facilitate competencies at the specialty level.

Towards that end, one of the most challenging skills for any couple therapist is being able to move from an individual to a systemic case conceptualization. Consistent with Stanton & Welsch’s (2011) couple and family psychology competencies, a thorough case conceptualization involves problem formulation, case formulation, and treatment formulation. However, this can be overwhelming for many trainees and established therapists conducting couple therapy. Thus, this presentation will present a systematic and systemic model that actualizes the case conceptualization competency.

The framework presented is a four-session evaluation that includes an initial conjoint session in order to understand the couple’s relationship problems followed by separate sessions in order to understand each person’s individual and family of origin histories (Chambers, 2012; 2018). The evaluation concludes with the therapist providing feedback to the couple that is used to establish a working alliance. Although the notion of routinely meeting with each member of the couple separately as part of an evaluation is not new (Karpel, 1994), the purpose of this presentation is to describe this procedure in enough detail that audience members will be able to teach this model to their trainees and/or be able to replicate this model for use in their own practice with couples.

Specifically, the presentation will describe the rationale and goals for the model, the tasks and pertinent issues to assess in each session, as well as how to present the model to couples during the initial phone call and initial visit. Finally, the presentation will discuss how to provide a dyadic/systemic conceptualization of their relationship problems, and how to make appropriate recommendations for treatment. Ethical and complicated issues such as confidentiality, how to handle secrets, and how to know when couple therapy is contraindicated will also be presented.

About the Presenter

Anthony Chambers, PhD, ABPP, is the Chief Academic Officer and a Licensed Clinical Psychologist on staff at The Family Institute at Northwestern University. Dr. Chambers is also the Director of Northwestern University’s Center for Applied Psychological and Family Studies and is a Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychology. He is also the former Director of the Couple Therapy program at The Family Institute. Dr. Chambers is one of the few Psychologists in the United States Board Certified in treating couples (ABPP). Dr. Chambers is also a former President of the American Psychological Association’s Society for Couple and Family Psychology. He currently serves as President for the American Academy of Couple and Family Psychology and serves on the Board of Directors for the American Board of Couple and Family Psychology, which are the two organizations responsible in board certification for Psychologists in Couple and Family Psychology. Dr. Chambers’ professional accomplishments have resulted in becoming a Fellow of the American Psychological Association and several other organizations. He also serves on the editorial board for the journal Family Process and is the past Associate Editor for the flagship journal Couple and Family Psychology: Research and Practice. Finally, Dr. Chambers was recently elected to the Board of Directors for the American Psychological Association.

Dr. Chambers completed his internship and post-doctoral clinical residency at Harvard Medical School & Massachusetts General Hospital (HMS/MGH), specializing in the treatment of couples. He currently maintains a thriving clinical practice comprised of 90% couples. Dr. Chambers also engages in scholarly writing, teaching and public speaking aimed at disseminating the latest knowledge about how to have a healthy relationship.

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