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Division 32 Annual Conference: Student Perspectives Series – Part 5

Over the past three weeks we have been featuring a series of posts written by MSP students who attended or presented at the Annual Conference of the Society for Humanistic Psychology: American Psychological Association: Division 32 that was held in Chicago on March 26-29, 2015.

Presenting at the Division 32 conference provided us with the opportunity to socialize, network, and build our curriculum vitae (CV). What can be better than presenting work you’ve researched and sharing that information with other colleagues in your field?  We decided to do just that!

We decided we would present our findings at the 8th Annual Conference of the Society for Humanistic Psychology, American Psychological Association Division 32 held at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology. In order to be able to present our findings via poster and symposium presentation, we first needed to research our topics. This was a bit more challenging than we thought because of our crazy schedules as doctoral students.  After each of us pulled together our individual research, we then needed to decide what was relevant and necessary to include and what should be deleted. After all of the data was gathered and finalized, PowerPoints were emailed to one another and our posters were ordered!

Our poster presentation was titled “Psychoanalysis and Humanistic Psychology: Utilizing the Therapeutic Relationship.” It involved a literature review regarding the strong emphasis on the therapeutic relationship in psychoanalysis and humanistic psychology, as well as, ways to utilize the relationship to promote therapeutic growth and change.  In addition to this presentation, Priscilla also presented a poster board with fellow classmates, Debra Hamilton and Melanie Ho, on “The Development of the Social Media Anxiety Questionnaire: SMAQ.”

We also participated in a symposium presentation on domestic human sex trafficking to raise awareness for clinicians, educators, and students with classmate, Melanie Ho, and Dr. Ann Smith, one of the core doctoral faculty at our school. This symposium was titled “There are No Gated Communities: Preparing Students and Mental Health Providers to Address Domestic Human Sex Trafficking Close to Home.”

At the conference, we made last minute touches to the symposium presentation, talked, and reassured one another that all would go well, which put us at ease. The time we were most nervous was the morning of the presentation. “Today is the day,” we said to one another. We made sure we looked presentable (picking out what to wear and making sure our hair was perfect), and were ready to walk over to the conference. Looking back now, we laugh at how focused we were on looking presentable, those attending the conference likely did not care whether or not our hair was frizzy.

During our walk to the conference, we were nervous about how the actual presenting process would be. The hour went much faster than we had anticipated and it was over before we knew it. We related it to a class presentation. We always get nervous and hyped up before presentations, only to realize after that it was not as bad as we anticipated.  It was gratifying to share our hard work with others and present on topics we are passionate about.

After our presentations, we celebrated with one another. We were relieved that our presentations were over and that all of our hard work preparing and writing had paid off. It was a wonderful experience to see our professors in a different lens as we celebrated; it was a much less formal setting than the classroom where we are used to seeing them.

One of the best parts of going to conferences is attending others’ presentations, both posters and panels, and expanding our knowledge base. There was such a vibrant atmosphere and those wearing the conference nametag would smile at us when we passed one another in the halls and lobby of the hotel where the conference was held. Since we have both presented at Division 32 before there were many faculty and students from other schools that we recognized. Everyone was so kind and helpful.

The talks we attended were excellent and very informative. We were provided with the opportunity of not only hearing our professors present on topics they teach, but also other relevant information for therapists. Some of the topics involved experientials and art therapy that we could apply in sessions with our own clients. For example, Dr. Betz King conducted a wonderful art therapy exercise that we could implement in our own group and individual sessions.

Although we are a close-knit cohort, sharing this experience allowed us to learn even more about each other. It brought us even closer to each other. This was an exciting and enjoyable experience; we are definitely interested in presenting again at future conferences.


Amanda Sternitzky, MA, TLLP (PsyD 2)

Amanda Sternitzky