Conference Tips and Reflections from the 2013 Evolution of Psychotherapy Conference

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The Evolution of Psychotherapy Conferences takes place in Anaheim every four years and includes renowned experts from around the world. Missed it last year? You don’t have to wait until 2017 — the entire conference and individual sessions are available at the Erickson Foundation’s online store. We have some reflections from Pepperdine faculty member Stephen Sultanoff, Ph.D., about the most important takeaways from the last Evolution conference — including tips that can apply to your attendance at any other conference!

by Stephen Sultanoff, Ph.D.

The Evolution of Psychotherapy conference is the richest and best conference in the field of psychology. My first piece of advice is: do not miss it next time. I have attended all 7 held in the US and continue to be impressed by the quality and I continue to learn.


Buy the conference registration as soon as it becomes available. This gives you the best rate.

Study the conference syllabus and become familiar not only the speakers but with the presentation options (workshops, keynotes, clinical demonstrations, conversation hours, panel discussions, etc.).

Pace yourself and be prepared for lines to get food. Bring snacks and drinks.

Choose wisely. There are many programs and you cannot attend them all. In fact you most likely will purposely skip programs so that you have some “down time.”

Feel free to leave a session if it is not meeting your needs.

Stretch yourself both physically with plenty of rest periods but also attend sessions outside of your area. I knew nothing of hypnotherapy or EMDR until I saw them presented at the conference.

Thoughts about this past conference:

For students, I think the biggest message came from Scott Miller and David Burns. Psychotherapy training has all but disappeared. Be sure to find ways to get experiential, deliberate practice training if you want to develop into a skilled therapist. In addition be receptive to asking your clients for feedback. See Miller’s website for tools. Be open to self-examination.

Miller, Burns, and Don Michenbaum all discuss “what makes a good or even master therapist.” Students should pay close attention if they want to become proficient.

Technology is expanding faster than the ethics, laws, and clinical concerns. Be sure to consider the ramifications of technology including being accessible (or not) by cell phones, use of email (and the clinical as well as security issues that may entail), online billing, online therapy, electronic therapy crossing state lines (where you might not be licensed), etc.


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