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Practicing in Turbulent Times

Friday May 19, 2017

Is there additional stress in your practice in these challenging times?

The current political, cultural, and social milieu has increased distress in many of our patients and us as therapists.  AMHA-OR Metro’s CE workshop, May 19, 2017 will address current cultural and social factors, will explore unconscious and conscious bias with regard to the "other,” will highlight counter-transference issues and increase clinicians’ ability to identify the ethical consideration of clinical interactions and their capacity to create safe holding environments for distressed clients.

Four presenters will address current cultural and social factors, will explore unconscious and conscious bias with regard to the "other.”  The presenters will highlight counter-transference issues and increase clinicians’ ability to identify the ethical importance of clinical interventions in these turbulent times and their capacity to create safe holding environments for their distressed clients.

Mari Kresge Alexander, PA-C, LMFT: Understanding the role of unconscious bias in how we make meaning of the troubled spirit of our times.

We traverse and negotiate differences and similarities among the people in our lives daily.  Whether it is our clients, our bosses, our neighbors or our family we are making meaning of what we see, hear and feel in order to organize our world.   To be effective we need to be conscious of our own roots, our personal history, our values and our biases, especially those that are unconscious.  When we meet others with true consciousness of “self” coupled with an ability to see the world from their eyes we create possibilities for understanding.  This understanding is essential for us to be inclusive and cultivate harmony in our global world. 

Participants will be invited to look at their own roots and values and to consider elements of difference among people from cultures that do not adhere to the “dominant” US culture.   In small groups we will explore our unconscious biases and demonstrate how those can interfere with communication, connection and understanding. 

Susan Paidhrin Ph.D.: Riding the Currents of Chaos: Models for Finding Meaning and Identity in Unmoored Times

Chaos is the new normal. Issues in the consulting room increasingly are the issues of the collective. How do we meet the needs of clients living in a culture divided, unhinged from agreements of perception, fact, and truth, hurtling towards a future that may be seeding its own demise? Meaning, hope, value, morality, relationship and identity are each threatened by a world turned upside-down and inside-out. The sheer scale of the problems and the seeming futility of individual action can paralyze.

Humanity’s most primitive emotions are unleashed calling for humankind’s most refined virtues to serve as compass.

Psychology and all practitioners who ride on its wide back with differing theories, treatment options, and ways of knowing are in excellent positions to assist suffering individuals, couples and families as they grieve and mourn the death of old systems, learn to tolerate the uncertainty of the between times, and cultivate a receptive openness to the birth of that not-yet-known. These are traumatic times. Yet, psychotherapy’s attention to creating safety and a holding environment offers the consulting room as place for solace and healing.

Tracy Bryce Farmer: Countertransference in turbulent times: How can we utilize it for health?

  • Have you felt helpless about reassuring your patients in the face of our current geopolitical landscape when you are struggling with it yourself?
  • Have you struggled to be fully available to patients whose views may not match your own?
  • Have you wondered how you can behave ethically and prevent burnout when you are experiencing potent countertransference?

Please join me in an exploration of the way transference phenomena impacts our practices, and how we can utilize its power in our work toward health.

Martha Blake: The Ethical Import of the ‘Spirit of the Times’

Carl Jung described the turbulent times of his era as a tension between “The Spirit of the Times” and “The Spirit of the Depths.” Over the months since the 2016 election, therapists have observed that depressed and anxious clients are more symptomatic, more emotionally distressed at the “Spirit of the Times.” This presentation undertakes an inquiry which emerged from one day in my practice when clients who were troubled about current events, each told a horrific nightmare of evil, without a single emotion in the telling or the amplification. I was the one gripped with fear. I felt the feelings. I was the one grappling with the nature of evil. I felt fearful immediately upon hearing the first dream. Foreboding crept up perniciously after the second dream.

Living systems are autopoietic. Living systems are a network of processes of transformation and destruction that continuously regenerate themselves. My clients and I were participating autopoietically with “The Spirit of the Times” and my reaction was fear. Fear counter-transferences sent me on a mission to explore the archetypal emotions, the imperative to experience them, the nature of evil, the impact of emotions on our value system, personal ethics, choices, actions, and the implications if we do not have-or develop-a capacity for empathy. I explored myth, fairytale, philosophy, religion, science, and conscience. This presentation, with individualized exercises, will ground each attendee in their personal values, identify sentinel event markers, clarify personal ethics, and prepare each person to respond to the events of our “Spirit of the Times” with “The Spirit of the Depths.”


Pricing options

6 hours CE (Includes 1.5 Ethics CE – 1.5 Cultural Competence CE)

Those attending will be able to:

  • Identify specific dimensions of diversity, values and cultural differences which impact communication.
  • Identify unconscious biases and the role of bias in promoting reactivity versus responsiveness.
  • Facilitate clients’ ability to incorporate skills of empathy and understanding with people who do not share their own values.
  • Identify current collective stressors and describe how they may impact individual clients.
  • Assess ways that the consulting room's unique holding environment and cultivation of relationship assist clients in soothing the effects of collective stressors.
  • Explain how mindfulness practices are suitable treatment options for symptoms of collective stressors.
  • Name and discuss the purpose of emotions; describe a definition of evil.
  • Explain the link between feelings and values and describe the link between feelings and ethical choices.
  • Assess the value of utilizing transference phenomena and describe the differences between two types of countertransference.
  • Identify a new approach to prevent professional burnout.



Mari Kresge Alexander, PA-C, LMFT,  is a Medical Provider, Psychotherapist, Cultural Competency Consultant & Diversity Trainer who has team built and run multicultural programs for many communities in the U.S. and abroad.  She has taught  birth trainers in Kenya to teach others how to prevent deaths in childbirth, served as Guest Lecturer at Pacific University for numerous courses,  served as a Cross Cultural and Health Trainer in Portland State University’s Gateway Program for Fulbright Scholars coming into the USA; worked in Morocco, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Czechoslovakia, Senegal and Kenya;  provided Diversity Training for the first Peace Corps volunteers going to Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary,  Bulgaria & Romania; established medical and service programs at a clinic for Southeast Asian refugees, migrant farm workers, and low-income patients; designed and conducted training for medical assistants from Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Mexico.

Martha Blake, MBA, NCPsyA, psychologist and Jungian analyst, trained at the C.G. Jung institute, Zurich and practices in Portland.  Martha is a member of the InterRegional Society of Jungian Analysts where she teaches analysts-in-training. She is the Chair of the AMHA-NW Health Informatics and Quality Committee and on the Board of AMHA-NW. She was formerly the Manager, Regional Quality Management, Kaiser Permanente NW. She was the NW Region Manager Ground Zero, a grass-roots nuclear war educational effort that attempted to revitalize the Salt II Treaty. Martha has lived in Germany, Saudi Arabia, and Switzerland.

Tracy Bryce Farmer, LCSW, holds a BFA degree from UC Santa Barbara and an MFA from the University of Washington. She had a long professional career in the arts and teaching before transitioning to social work. In New York, Tracy studied at Hunter College School of Social Work as well as Riverdale Seminars in Modern Analytic Psychotherapy. She received her MSW from Portland State University and worked at Providence Portland Medical Center in detox, partial hospital and IOP programs. Tracy facilitated expansion of outpatient chemical dependency and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy services at Providence Portland and was awarded the Emily Gamelin Mission Inspiration Award. She currently has a private practice in Portland, Oregon, providing integrated emotional and behavioral therapy for children, teens, couples, families and groups.

Susan Paidhrin Ph.D. is a practicing astrologer, psychological consultant and spiritual director working in Portland, OR. Her undergraduate studies were in Art and Literature. She has taught and tutored English and has served as an editor on several books and publications. Susan holds a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology and a Ph.D. in Mythology and Religion, both from Pacifica Graduate Institute. Her areas of interest are in spiritual phenomenology and the development of human virtue.

This CE program is co-sponsored by AMHA-OR Metro and Mentor Research Institute. Mentor Research Institute is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. Mentor Research Institute maintains responsibility for the program and its content.

Call 503-222-0332 for information about AMHA-OR Metro or this workshop. Cancellation requires 48 hour notice. Refund policy: $20 processing fee for all cancelled registrations.