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  • LeAnn Wills

AHC Conference 2022

Today I had the amazing opportunity to not only attend the Association for Humanistic Counseling 2022 conference, but present a poster of my original work!! How neat! This was my first time doing any sort of poster presentation. As one could imagine, I was pretty nervous! It turned out to be a wonderful experience and I am so thankful for all those who supported and encouraged me along the way.

I presented components of a manual a created for a small group titled "Standing Tall: An eight week psychoeducational Group". The focus of this group is on enhancing self-esteem for fifth grade students. I discussed the background research I conducted on the topic. the subgroups I pulled out that directly influence self-esteem, development of the eight lessons and their varied modalities, screening criteria, and expected outcomes. I had such a wonderful time engaging with other attendees and received very helpful and engaging feedback. This was such an exciting, and rewarding, time!

Prior to the poster sessions I had the opportunity to attend two amazing morning sessions. The first discussed mindfulness as a protective factor against ACEs. We also worked through a loving kindness mediation. I had not done this before, so I was excited to have the chance to experience this. I found it to be a very lovely experience. At first I was a little skeptical, the words directed at self (May I be happy, May I be loved, etc.) are sometimes harder than directed at others. This gets at self-compassion. In counseling this is absolutely critical, but sometimes can be difficult. When working with others in a way in which we give so much of ourselves, considering we are the tool we bring with us daily, sometimes it can be hard to offer than same compassion to self. The presented said something that stuck out to me-if we do not practice self-compassion, how can we have true compassion for others? Makes you think, doesn't it?

The next session yielded great audience particiation on the topic of cultural humility and it's definition separate from cultural competency. I really enjoyed this session. I was left with information that is very empowering and makes me really take a moment to assess ways in which I can show cultural humility in my word versus cultural competency. I feel within school the emphases for cultural competencies seems high. there are set "standards" of practice students are expected to meet and are assessed in some manner to ensure they are actually being met. What about cultural humility? Are students being taught to check themselves for biases, prejudice, influence of ones own intersecting identities? How do we best foster this in emerging counselors? As someone about to start a Doc program this fall, this gave me great information to sit on and incorporate into both my practice and future work with students.

I also had the chance to meet Dr. Victoria Kress in person! Dr. Kress taught my group counseling class remotely last summer. I recall learning so much from her and truly enjoying her class. Her mentorship has been invaluable.

This conference was a great opportunity to learn from some of the best in the field, meet other practicing counselors, students, and scholars, and just enjoy being able to do this event in person! I look forward to the next conference and for continued educational enrichment!

All my love,

LeAnn W.

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