In this Issue

Report on the Society for Humanistic Psychology Conference in Santa Barbara

Visit or revisit our 6th Annual Conference with Brent’s synopsis of the highlights and ambiance of our remarkable gathering in the hills over the Pacific.

By Brent Potter

It is my hope that everyone who participates in the Society for Humanistic Psychology has the same experience that I have enjoyed. The Society is the community that I call ‘home'. It has embraced me, provided me with opportunities to actively contribute, and has proven to be the source of the longest lasting and most meaningful personal and professional relationships I have known. I, and quite a few others, dedicated an exhaustive amount of time and effort to make the Sixth Annual Conference of the Society for Humanistic Psychology (Division 32) of the American Psychological Association the best experience it could possibly be.

If you missed this conference, then you really missed out on an amazing and humbling experience.

The conference was successfully held at the Pacifica Graduate Institute in Santa Barbara, February 28 through March 3, 2013.  It was a gathering of likeminded individuals from across the country who came together to celebrate the many facets of humanistic psychology.  Through the large number of volunteers, our student ambassadors, the SHP board, the conference committee as well as the accessibility of our keynote speakers and invited speakers, what was a meeting of individuals became a community – a home for the individuals who ventured into this insulated, retreat like world.

The luminaries shared their knowledge and encouragement upon our group through the keynotes and invited speakers.  Gabor Maté, MD kicked off our retreat with an engaging discussion on When the Body Says “No” – a discussion on stress and its bodily effects.  Geneva Renage-Abiko, PsyD, spoke on her journey as a psychologist of color in “Returning the Truth to Our Profession”.  Jennifer Selig, PhD, inspired our entire cohort through her engaging speech entitled “Might as Well Face It, We're Addicted to Hope”.   On Sunday, Shelly P. Harrell, PhD, had the entire audience dancing in the aisles as she spoke on her topic “Through the Eyes of Love and Justice: Re-Visioning a Multicultural Humanistic Psychology.”  Lastly, Dr. Irvin Yalom was interviewed by Orah Krug, PhD, of his memories practicing in the field and his new book "The Spinoza Problem."

Our invited speakers graced us with their presence, challenging us to expand our thinking on their topic of choice and to integrate a new way of viewing things into our academic lives.  Dr. Dan L. Edmunds invited us to see autistic individuals through a different lens – a lens of wholeness by being accepted as an individual who needs understanding and compassion versus the traditional attitude of brokenness.  Robert Stolorow, PhD, spoke on "The Tragic and Metaphysical in Philosophy and Psychoanalysis" inviting us to dialogue with him about the integration of the two.  Jacqueline Simon-Gunn, PsyD, stretched our imaginations and deepened our respect of Karen Horney with her interpretation of Dr. Horney's life work – calling us to action, inspiring us to thoughtfulness.

Along with these talented and learned individuals, there were luminaries who choose to speak to the attendees through their presentations and through mentoring of the younger generation of humanistic psychologists.  There was Dr. Tom Greening who spoke of Existential Shattering through his poetry.  Aaron Mishara, PhD, PsyD, who presented on schizophrenia and the alternatives offered in depth psychologies.  Drs. Kirk Schneider, Brent Dean Robbins, Louis Hoffman, Anthony Bossis, Charles Grob, Oksana Yakushko, James Broderick, Richard Bargdill, Diane Blau, Sarah Bridges, Donna Rockwell among a whole host of others, equally gifted, passionate on their topic and enthusiastically mentoring to the younger generation of students, offering their wisdom, their time and their experience.

And, the conference would not have been as successful or nearly as complete without the help of our student volunteers.  Katie Darling, Trish Nash, Jake Glazier, Gwendolyn Lawrence Alley, Gina Belton, Robert Hartman, Lee Vance, Lisa Vallejos, Vanessa Brown, Derrick Sebree, Jr., Roxanne Christensen and a small army of others worked tirelessly preparing, monitoring and running the audio visual, SHP table, registration table, poster session dessert and wine evening and all of the presentations room monitoring and CE's. Special mention should be given to Jina Carvalho, who was of great assistance in procuring the site for the Yalom event (First United Methodist Church) and also for her assistance in advertising the event. I want to thank Ana Li for her contributions to flyers and cover designs and also Connie Kellogg for her herculean feats of printing and putting all of the conference materials, brochures, folders, and CE information packets together – by hand.

Let us not forget the venue for our gathering.  Pacifica Graduate Institute worked long hours preparing for this upcoming event, with a good heart in a stunningly beautiful setting, cocooned with great food, a warm environment and a beautiful backdrop.

For those of you who missed the event this year.  It was a community event that forged friendship through the sharing of ideas, thoughts, feelings and experience.  Please come join us in 2014 as we are beginning to plan for the following conference.

Your constructive feedback is needed. The only way the conference can continue to evolve is if your voice is heard. I personally attended the feedback session at the Pittsburgh conference and also the one this year. I heard many of the areas for improvement last year and actively incorporated those items into this year's event. I have received a lot of feedback and it's all been exceptionally positive and congratulatory. I suspect that the conference can continue to evolve and grow. Please let me know how to move it forward in order to continue providing an ever increasingly meaningful experience for our 'family.'