Some Reflections on our
Mark A. Stevens, Ph.D.
California State University,
President Division 51
For those members interested in D51 organizational
reflections please read on. Others not so interested, you may want to
skip to the next section.
On Connecting at the
APA Convention. The APA convention in San Francisco is just
around the corner. What makes the convention so special to me is the
opportunity to be physically present with folks from our division. I
cherish the opportunity to catch up with colleagues/friends I have known
for 25 years, but may only see once or twice a year. I also appreciate
the personal connections and a sense of our future with the newer
members who are making D51 their professional home. For folks who are
testing the waters of D51, the convention is a great opportunity to meet
informally with D51 colleagues you can connect with on a professional
and/or personal level. No matter how many publications, awards, years of
experience or titles D51 members have on their resume, I have found our
group to be warm, inviting and interested. I can’t wait to see old
friends, create more history with others and start a history with those
I have never met. A gigantic thanks goes to Chen Oren our program chair
for the upcoming convention. I know how hard he has worked to
facilitate the programming decisions and arranging our keynotes, our
dinner and joint social with D35.
On our Division’s
Struggles and Prosperity. I experience, with frustration and
pride, our division as both struggling and prospering. As in most
systems that is a common dynamic. What I believe may be most
challenging is our struggle on how to struggle. Not certain we know how
to do that very well. An example of a struggle our division is facing is
the challenge to expand and re-define our division’s identity and
purpose. Connected with that struggle are the feelings of our members,
who are invested (with all good intentions) with differing perspective,
as to the appropriate amount of re-definition that would be “good” for
our division. Being called into question are what aspects of our
ideological history and foundation do we hold onto, what parts do we
de-emphasize and what do we want to add to the mix that may not be
present? What I have noticed most in our struggle (both from my own
phenomenology and behaviors of others) is the fact we have not shared
with one another the personal meaning and feelings associated with the
above questions. I invite and challenge us to do so. We are smart
enough, strong enough and I believe we care enough about one another and
the division to do so.
We are also prospering. The recent success of the
Psychotherapy with Men Conference is a pat on the back to our D51
members, who have for years been setting the stage (through
publications, workshops, and mass media) to create a demand for
professionals to learn more about the unique needs of men coming into
psychotherapy. The conference was an easy sell thanks to the foresight
and years of hard work of many of the men and women in our division. I
am so curious and excited to watch how the fruits of our labor will pay
off in the future. Our division was built with the spirit of desire to
make a difference and we already are doing so, in a
variety of ways.
On a Hard Working Dad
and D51 Member. I want to thank our editor Mitchell Hicks
for putting together a thoughtful and attractive bulletin. He has done
all of this excellent work while changing diapers and being sleep
deprived. Congratulations on the birth of your son. [Editor’s note:
Thank you for your congratulations! I indeed have not slept more than
four hours straight in the last three weeks. But being a father to both
a daughter and now a son is one of the greatest joys. Nothing is better
than sitting on the couch holding my son and hugging my daughter as I
read a story to her. – MWH]
Reflections on the
First Psychotherapy with Men’s Conference: Let’s Do It Again!
Mark Stevens, Ph.D.
California State University Northridge
A month has passed. There are a number of vivid
memories and snapshots about the conference that emerge as I sit down to
write this column. Also on my mind is the Tour de France, one of my
favorite events to watch and follow, which is about to begin in just a
As an avid bicycling fan, I can not think of a better metaphor to
describe the group effort that went into organizing the conference. A
pellaton is a group of cyclists who work together to get to their
destination. They wear different jerseys, speak different languages, and
have different riding strengths. In common they all love to ride. The
riders take on different roles, block the wind, lead, follow,
communicate possible dangers, support, bring water and food for other
riders, and protect their teammates. The pellaton almost always can
move faster and more efficient than a single or small group of riders.
We had a wonderful pellaton of organizers, presenters and supporters
that I would like to give my thanks and credit. Seed money was given by
APA Divisions 51, 17 and 45, Phillips Graduate Institute, University of
La Verne-Department of Psychology, CSPP at Alliant International
University, CSU Fullerton, APA CODAPAR, and Antioch University.
Presenters and organizers included: Aaron Rochlen, AJ Franklin, Jon
Carlson, Mark Kiselica, Richard Rodriquez, Fred Rabinowitz, Chen Oren,
Rebekah Smart, David Shepard, Matt Englar-Carlson, William Parham, Chris
Liang, Joan Rosenberg, Sam Park, Daniel Saland and Michael Banley.
Special thanks to my conference assistant Lily Legarda, Website
developer Matt Genuchi and all the folks at California State University
Northridge who pitched in over the past year. We got to our destination
with strong legs, nourishment and enthusiasm to do it again!
The night before the conference we had a wonderful dinner with the
presenters, planners and out of the country attendees. While the food
was excellent, it was the conversation and good mood that was most
tasteful and relaxing. The numbers were in and looked liked we would
have a full house. This was a gigantic statement about the interest
level in the topic of psychotherapy with men. Most important I felt
like my back was covered. I had a great support system. Sleep was not
Watching the people come in and register was like throwing a party and
having the guests arrive. They found us. When I stood in front of the
approximately 200 attendees to welcome them to the conference, I noticed
the wonderful mix of men and women, older and younger, and people of
color. Graduate students comprised 40% of the audience. The energy of
the room was filled with a joyful sound of discussion and positive
anticipation. I personally had reunions with over ten colleagues or
ex-interns I had not seen for years. Staying present and enjoying the
experience, while also attending to some of the details was my personal
challenge. While welcoming the attendees I had a great and overwhelming
feeling of pride about our division and appreciation for the enormous
group effort. This was a conference that did not happen over night.
The conference was built on the relationships that have been developed
by individuals in our division over the last two plus decades.
Aaron Rochlen opened the conference with a keynote
on men and masked depression. While his PowerPoint was challenged by
some lighting difficulties, he got the audience thinking about men and
counseling. Many participants remarked they could not help but think
about clients they had seen and possibly misdiagnosed. Thank you Aaron
for your creative presentation and inviting presentation style.
Off to the various presentations. Participants
asked me about which workshop I recommended. I said throw a dart, you
can not go wrong. I am so thankful of the presenters who traveled near
and afar to share their expertise. I knew I could count on you all to
stand up and deliver and you sure did. The participants commented on
the wisdom, easy going style and approachability of the presenters. So
much so, over a dozen attendees came up to me and said “if this is what
division 51 is all about, where can I sign up?”
By lunchtime, I had a big smile on my face and
calmness in my gut. The buzz about the first set of workshops was
extremely positive (much better than the actual meal). Also present in
the buzz was a type of respect for working with men. I could sense in
the conversations a feeling of enthusiasm, hope and desire to learn to
be as helpful as possible in counseling men.
After lunch, AJ Franklin gave a powerful and moving
keynote on engaging black men in psychotherapy. The content and
usefulness of his presentation was quite evident. Even more memorable
was the spirit of AJ’s presentation. He was enjoying himself and the
audience was enjoying him. AJ’s wisdom and years of experience came
through loud and clear. The audience left the keynote with great
enthusiasm and inspiration to learn more.
The Finish Line.
The buzz about the afternoon workshops was positive as in the morning.
The official part of the conference was over. Folks were buying books.
Most sold out. What I noticed most was the fact that a majority of the
participants were hanging around. Conversations were flowing. I
believe a learning and social environment of mutual respect,
appreciation and desire to learn was created to make this conference
feel very special for many of the participants. It warmed my heart to
see the guests leave with smiles on their faces.
A number of the presenters and organizers had the opportunity to debrief
right after the conference. We filled our bellies with food and
stories. The laughter and serious conversations continued to flow. New
connections and old connections were being made and reinforced. There
was talk of where and when the next conference could be. My heart and
mind was full of gratitude and relief. I slept well again.
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