Opening Keynote – Repurposing the Wheel

Dr David Mee-Lee

Practitioners, policy makers and doctors are dealing with the challenges of the many faces of addiction and the needs of diverse populations.  Addictions manifests in many ways across all sections of society and affects healthcare, criminal justice, settings, work, schools and families.  As agents of change, it is time to repurpose rather than reinvent the wheel as we move from a sick-care system to a healthcare, wellness and well-being system of care.

This presentation will invite participants to examine their attitudes about recovery and well-being and consider the whole system of care to find their role in creating a system of healing.  It will use the multidimensional assessment of The ASAM Criteria and dimensions of wellness models to promote a holistic perspective and help identify each participant’s contribution to recovery and well-being.


Psychotherapy: What works & what’s new?

Dr Irvin D Yalom

Dr Irvin D Yalom is a world renowned psychotherapist known both for his individual and group work. He shares with us, live via video-conference, from his extensive experience on what works and also some of the latest developments in psychotherapy. He will be interviewed by an expert panel, and will also be taking questions from the conference participants.


Family Interventions For Addictions

Dr Benny Lam

Addiction is not just about the drinking, drug, internet, or food use in the alcoholic or addict. It also profoundly affects their thinking and behaviour. Ultimately it affects every aspect of their lives including their caregivers, loved ones and members of the family. The good news is the addiction is treatable for the addict, altering interactions with his family, and the caregiver. Family members don’t have to go on living lives controlled by the addiction.

In this workshop you will learn about how the cycle of addictions affect the whole family. How Does Drug Addiction Affect a Family? Family roles, and the interventions that family members can do in the recovery journey to bring about effective, positive change


What happened to Resistance? Updating your Motivational Interviewing Skills

Dr David Mee-Lee

 Client hostility and low interest in treatment occur in many clinical situations and make it hard to reach patients and clients and help them change.  Motivational Interviewing (MI) and stages of change work can help attract people into accountable and lasting change.  This presentation will focus on both the basics of MI and some new concepts in the current and latest third edition of MI.

“Resistance” is revisited and deconstructed in the current edition, which highlights the practitioner’s role in addressing “sustain talk” and people’s lack of interest in changing.  This presentation will provide concepts and techniques on ways to quickly engage clients into treatment and evoke their interest in changing.  There will be opportunity to discuss case examples and participants are encouraged to bring clinical situations and vignettes for role-playing and consultation.


Dual diagnosis, an integrated recovery

Dr Sivakumar Thurairajasingam

The term “Co-occurring disorders” (“COD”) refers to the combination of substance use and mental disorders. Other common acronyms used to describe this group are MICA (mentally ill chemical abusers), CAMI (chemical abuse and mental illness) and SAMI (substance abuse and mental illness). Invariably the phenomenon of COD complicates the client’s problem and also management. Which would you treat first?

This session on COD takes you on an interesting journey, revisiting the complex interactions between drugs and mental health problems, its interactions, and causal effects. In this session, the participants would:

  • Understand the vulnerabilities and impact of COD
  • Be skilled at differentiating COD from ‘substance-induced mental disorders’
  • Identify the common COD
  • Discuss assessment & treatment options / models

The session would most benefit counsellors, psychologists and healthcare workers practising in the field of substance use and recovery dealing with the complexities of co-morbid mental health problems.


Difficult conversations: Engaging those with difficult personalities

Dr Prem Kumar Shanmugam

Addiction is a disease that not only impacts the individual but the family and the system as a whole as well. The entire eco system takes on new unhealthy characteristics when infected with this disease in order to continue evolving as a unit and maintain homeostasis. This form of dysfunctional balance helps keep the system going while enabling the addiction to continue manifesting further.

Communication gets disrupted and secrets begin to develop while trust is lost. Defence mechanisms as a result of constantly being on guard evolve further and “walls” are built. These form of unhealthy styles of maintaining the ‘newly established homeo-stasis’ within the system, soon progresses into personalities which block interventions and treatment. With time the conditioned response systems become disruptive to the self and others as well.

Some of the key concepts discussed and explored in this talk will focus mainly on establishing trust by breaking down the ‘wall’. Various techniques will be examined based on years of working with this group of people who very often are concluded as having difficult personalities. Techniques from therapeutic models such as Solution Focused Behavioural Therapy, Narrative Therapy, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Motivational Interviewing, will be analysed. What works best within the psychosocial culture for the client will be identified. At the end of the day, in order for treatment to work, it needs to be customized to specific needs of the population.


Attachments & trauma-informed care

Fiona Markham

The therapeutic alliance is known to be one of the most significant elements of successful therapy.  Attachment styles of both the client and the therapist play an important role in the therapeutic setting. Traditionally, greater importance has been placed upon the characteristics of the client. We will discover how our own attachment style can influence our clinical work whilst reflecting on the impact that this has in the therapy room.

We will also examine client/therapist combinations in experiential exercises, whilst exploring how to develop a therapeutic alliance across the spectrum.  Exploring attachment theories and the development of personality styles throughout the early years and beyond. We will look at how attachment patterns develop and how subsequently new patterns can develop with successful therapeutic intervention.


Psychodrama: “I don’t wanna, You can’t make me”

Rebecca Walters

 This workshop, for those working with adolescents, the chemically dependent and other “reluctant” clients, will explore what resistance is, how it gets in the way, how it serves people and how action methods can help our clients move beyond it.  Participants will learn psychodramatic interventions that “go with the resistance”, honour defenses and are attuned to sociometry, creating the safety that helps change barriers into open doors and encouraging individual and group warm-up to spontaneity, healing and change.


The Empty Chair: Psychodrama in individual and group work

Rebecca Walters

The empty chair is a blank screen.  It can concretize anything or anybody.  It brings the work immediately into the here and now.  Both sociodramatic and psychodramatic use of the empty chair can be used to warm up the group, as a piece of action and/ or therapeutic exploration and for closure in working with groups and in working with individuals.

This highly experiential workshop will include demonstration, practice and active participation.


Spirituality and Values in Addiction Management

Reverend Ray Johnson

The “Big Book” of Alcoholics Anonymous says, “if… you…are alcoholic…you may be suffering from an illness which only a spiritual experience will conquer.” (pg 56 1st ed. emphasis mine). Seven of the 12 Steps make implicit reference to God. Four of the 12 Steps include the word God.

Stephanie Brown Ph.D. (Treating the Alcoholic), says “I define spirituality as dependence; …spirituality is dependence, and the god of the addict is the alcohol. Ellis,, inculcate values to Step 3, rather than God. During the conference, we
shall discuss how these different expressions of spirituality and or values impact recovery.


Recovery Coaching

Reverend Ray Johnson

Recovery Coaching will use a variety of hands-on stress measurements to first demonstrate the need for on-going support groups. Post treatment care, or “another
level of care” or, after care is often disregarded by clients as unnecessary. Families may reinforce this negative belief, due to poor client education or lack of family involvement in the client’s residential treatment plan.

The use of post treatment psychotherapy, AA support groups, Alumni Groups, and ‘Fun Without Alcohol’ will be explored. It is especially important to prevent post treatment isolation.  Most addicts attempt to conceal their addictions by hiding or isolating, at least enough to minimise their use. Many addicts begin their recovery in groups. During the workshop, we will explore the necessity of maintaining healthy group relationships.


Prodependence, Moving Beyond Codependency

Rob Weiss

Codependence, with its messages of spousal detachment and self-examination, remains our sole universally accepted model for understanding and treating spouses and partners of addicts. Despite all of the advances made in addiction treatment over the past 35 years, codependency remains our model for partner treatment. Isn’t it time to take a new look at our treatment of this population? What if we had a model for partner treatment sourced in attachment theory and not trauma? What if we began to discover that spouses and partners can be easily helped by a more effective and engaging message? What if we tried prodependence?
This engaging keynote will introduce prodependence, a new, attachment-focused method for viewing and treating the loved ones of addicts that invites no pathology and no labeling. Prodependence leans into a spouse’s natural stance of protection and survival and validates rather than challenges them. In this way, change in the family system can be affected without unnecessary judgement or labeling of a spouse’s actions.


Sex, Tech and Addiction

Rob Weiss

While much fear and hype has been created in the past decade by well-meaning clinicians and the media, the actual role and effect of digital media on American family life has yet to be fully understood and researched. So, what can a useful, caring counselor or therapist offer to families struggling with issues such as digital boundaries, cyberbullying and tech stressors, as well as problems like online gaming, gambling, and sexuality? This timely, engaging talk, by a clinical thought leader and author of several books related to our evolving digital world and its effect on the therapy space, gives attendees a chance to revisit, reshape, and challenge their beliefs about how digital technology is affecting family life, relationships, school, and the workplace. Blending current research with historical references, this talk will provide clarity in an area where clinicians sometimes feel under-informed or even downright confused.


Everything Therapists and Counselors Need to Know About Sex but Were Never Taught

Rob Weiss

Despite tremendous growth in clinical education worldwide over the past few decades, the provision of empathic and insightful information regarding all forms of healthy and pathological human sexuality remains rare if not fully absent. Many, if not most well-educated therapists and counselors lack specific understanding into specific sexual concerns such as: sexual fetishism, sexual orientation, gender identity, transgenderism, and sexual expression, among so many others. So many of us, comfortable helping couples or families resolve other kinds of concerns, can be caught blindsided when clinical questions are specific to sex. So many of us not trained in how to assess or manage the difference between a genuine sexual disorder versus client distress related to ego-dystonic sexual arousal. This basic introduction to clinical sexology will include a lot time for discussion and questions while providing clear, non-judgmental human sexual education useful for every clinician.


Applied Treatment for Sexual Compulsivity and Addiction: Understanding the Clinical Assessment and Treatment of Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity

Rob Weiss

Long clinically unacknowledged, under-identified, and more a frequent source of jokes than formal therapeutic reality, Compulsive Sexual Behavior Disorder (per the World Health Organization) will become a formal diagnosis in the ICD-11 in 2019. As questions about the viability of this diagnosis now recede, the real needs of sexually compulsive clients for accurate assessment and treatment become an emerging reality. What causes someone to become sexually compulsive or addicted? What types of treatment are most effective toward helping them resolve their presenting concerns? How do we help spouses and family members who carry the shame that often accompanies this disorder? This talk is designed to offer realistic, useful insight into the problem of compulsive/addictive porn use, hook ups, serial infidelities, and other forms of compulsive/addictive sexual acting out (on and offline). The talk will provide insight into the process addictions, their treatment, and the empathic insight required to view sexual compulsivity for what it is—the adult expression of early-life complex trauma and attachment loss. For those who are part of the 12-segment sex/tech and addiction series, this will meet your live requirement toward your certificate.

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