It was a fun and exciting trip to Santa Fe for the annual Leadership Symposium. Amanda Szarzinksi and I were happy to represent the South Carolina division. Although preceded by Leadership Conferences in years past, the 2016 Symposium focused on professional development and leadership training for all interested MFTs. Previous Leadership Conferences were geared towards Division Leaders. The 2015 Leadership Conference was a hybrid or transitional year, which had both Division and Emerging Leaders attending. The big topic in 2015 was restructuring. The focus this year was more on the individual clinician – their goals and how they also might get more involved in the field or the association.
Attendees ranged from graduate students still pursuing their degrees to experienced division leaders. There were several keynote speakers and breakout sessions. This year also marked the first cohort of the Leadership Certificate program. One notable difference this year was the increased time devoted to networking . Networking had been a component in the past, but it seemed as though there were even more settings to meet with colleagues. Attendees were given a “bingo sheet” to help them track them networking interactions. It was a fun way to encourage networking, while also recognizing the different personalities and networking styles.
If you are a MFT interested in developing your leadership skills or learning more about how to pursue your career path as a MFT this would be a great conference to attend. The ability to network with colleagues from around the country while learning relevant skills may prove to be a great use of your resources.
To learn more about the Leadership Certificate program please visit http://www.aamft.org/imis15/AAMFT/Content/Events/Leadership_Certificate.aspx
Sometimes we just have to do things. Pick up in the midst of a busy season of life and go somewhere we’ve never been. Encounter new people, places, and customs. To be honest, I wasn’t as prepared or excited to attend this year’s Leadership Symposium. A busy schedule at work had worn me down and sleep seemed preferable to travel and socializing. I knew that I would have a great time when I arrived, but I didn’t feel the nervous anticipation I had in the past.
This year’s experience in Santa Fe was different and in a good way. It was probably just what I needed. Rather than jumping into the hustle and bustle of DC with its Metro, winter weather, and abundance of people and places I was allowed the opportunity to stroll through the streets of Santa Fe soaking in the different landscapes, architecture, and vibe of those around me. The people were different – the buildings were different – it was quiet. My eyes feasted on the differences. Johnathan, an MFT from Alabama, remarked on how all the color in New Mexico is on the inside. Outside the buildings melt into the landscape, the colors mimicking the surrounding nature, but inside are bright pops of color and art that depicted birds, animals, people, landscapes in the brightest possible ways. While I didn’t get to visit the many galleries and museums I was surrounded by, I think that in a lot of ways I got to enjoy Santa Fe as if the entire city was a museum.
I’ve felt a calm here that was hard to put my finger on. I didn’t get the bursts of adrenaline or nervousness here like I have at past conferences – even when we witnessed a mugging (but that is a different story!). Perhaps that is because I relied on my awesome, extroverted traveling companion to initiate connections and represent our state. In the past, I ‘d pushed myself to overcome my shy and introverted ways in order to “get the most” out of the trip. (It may have also been due to the 7,000+ ft elevation of Santa Fe that caused my body to work harder for that precious oxygen). This trip I found myself taking less notes and different notes. I slowed my pace and often arrived at sessions on time instead of super early. I enjoyed good food and great company. Rather than focusing on quantity of people met, I felt content to have repeated conversations with some new people. I reflected on what I wanted next and realized that I didn’t really know. A great conversation with Amanda during one of the breakouts helped me to acknowledge that I am achieving the goals that I had set for myself a long time ago.
When I complete my term as president of SCAMFT, life may take a different turn for me. I may stop achieving the next big goal just to enjoy where I am. Time goes by so quickly. As a kid the time between Halloween and Christmas was forever, and now those months fly by in the blink of an eye. My hope is that I will take this experience in Santa Fe to slow things down and enjoy what is around me. I will take comfort in knowing that I don’t have to do more or be more, I can just be. Sometimes that is leadership – taking control of your own life, setting your pace, and allowing people to come along on that journey if they want to.
Here’s wishing you the opportunity to find your Santa Fe moment!
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