Professionals Share About Their FITS Conference Experiences
This month Evoke hosted the 2nd Annual FITS Conference, the Forum for Innovative Treatment Solutions. The goal of this forum is to bring together great minds and leaders in the treatment community to improve outcomes. Attended by educational consultants and professionals from the treatment industry, participants come to interact with expert panels from the fields of mental health and addiction.
FITS is an interactive forum where information is disseminated, but an essential aspect of FITS is the attendees also collaborate on clinical treatment and practices, sharing creative approaches that address the newest advances in treatment. The two panel discussions this year were “Bridging the Gap Between Recovery and Mental Health Approaches” and “After—Aftercare.” The second day was spent on the overarching theme for this year’s conference, “Doing Your Own Work.” Attendees participated in experiential sessions centered on developing self-care both personally and professionally. Throughout the forum I felt inspired, empowered and touched. Most of all I continue to feel gratitude for the colleagues I was surrounded and who’s participation made this year’s FITS one to remember. Below are shared experiences of two of the attendees.
The only other opportunity I have had to spend time so thoughtfully and soulfully with colleagues was at last year's FITS Conference. Evoke's leadership intentionally brings together professionals in the fields of educational and therapeutic consulting, mental health and addictions consulting to learn- to learn from each other about their work, and this year, to learn about themselves. The essential theme of this intense 2-day forum, was that only in challenging ourselves to grow, will we grow as a professional body and as helping professionals.
Dr. Brad Reedy's Keynote opened the session with an introduction to his book, The Journey of the Heroic Parent, which paralleled how some of his own struggles have created his greatest growth. My take away was something that I say to the parents I work with, "It' OK for your child to struggle; they will emerge from a struggle with the right support and guidance; it is NOT OK for them to suffer, and without intervention many kids just remain in that place of suffering." Brad's book probably moved up a couple of notches on Amazon's best seller list after this conference and deservedly so!
Our first full day was filled with panel discussions on the “Continuum of Care” and “Addiction Treatment”, as well as a Keynote by Dr. Kenneth Perlmutter on "Family Systems Work. " The panel discussions were intimate and lively, and we actually created a new lexicon. The "Continuum of Care" panel was originally named the "After-Aftercare Panel”, and one group decided that name created a false expectation for parents and clients. "Continuum of Care" is more appropriate, and it should be referred to as such, so as not to be misleading or create the idea a client’s next steps are "after thoughts" or less necessary. Dynamic discussions resulted from the perspectives of program leaders, interventionists, consultants, and clinicians.
That evening we were randomly assigned into small diverse groups and went to dinner in some of Salt Lake City's most wonderful restaurants for more intimate conversations. We woke up early the second day and had a choice between attending a CODA or AA meeting. We shared, cried and got to know each other as vulnerable people, which set the stage for our next most powerful 2-hour session..."Doing Your Own Personal Work and Being a Better Provider”. Again, we were randomly assigned to four groups led by experiential therapists who led us through group exercises such as psychodrama, role-playing, guided imagery, the use of props, all with the intention of awakening us to our own journey of self-discovery.
Aligned with the excitement of our own new found feelings of safety and vulnerability was hearing the Keynote from Dr. Mike Neatherton on "Organizational Health" and how good leaders stay vulnerable, remain open and have the ability to listen because they feel safe with each other as a team. This is what Evoke is committed to building; a team that is growing, vulnerable and open to change. That is what they are asking of their clients and what they modeled for us over two thought provoking and inspiring days.
Myrna Harris is a founder of Harris Kramer Associates and has over 30 years of education and therapeutic placement experience.
Dialogue and discussion can sometimes be a rare commodity. This year's FITS conference was rich with conversation and geared toward discovering new ideas, while identifying ways of implementing newly identified solutions. So much of the helping profession is built around clients seeking answers and professionals dispensing advice. FITS' format of learning encouraged a conversation that can be used as a model for dialogue between the clinician and client.
When clients and helping professionals engage in authentic communication, progress is bound to follow. Not to be lost is the genuine learning that was had by those who listened and interacted with the featured guest speakers. In today's world of Internet information, digital media, and twenty-four hour news cycles it's easy to get lost. My experience at fits represents a refinement of learning wherein presenters and participants collaborated to a result of critical thought and understanding.
Matthew Checketts is a partner and Executive Director for the Vista Treatment Centers.