Education & Events

Forum Conference

2021 Annual Forum Conference Date: 2021-04-10 08:30 to 16:00
127 days remaining

2021 Annual Forum Conference

Saturday, April 10, 2021 8:30am to 4:00pm
Mercer Island Community and Event Center
8236 SE 24th St
Mercer Island, WA 98040
Sponsored by: 

32nd Annual Forum Conference - "IN FOCUS"

Morning presentations explore the theme of what gets left out of our clinical attention and awareness from a variety of perspectives. In the afternoon, we are pleased to present a plenary with Elana Kupor, MA, LMHC and Anthony Pennant, Jr., MA, LMFT titled "Seeing's Believing, but Feeling's the Truth".

The Alliance will be hosting a used professional book sale at this year's Forum!  If you would like to thin out your office book shelf and donate the books to our sale, bring them to the conference and we will give you a tax deductible receipt for your donation.  All book sale proceeds will go the the Alliance.


Registration: 8:30 am - 9 am

First Sessions: 9 am - 10:30 am

Presenters: Sally Bjorklund, MA, LMHC and Carolyn Carlson, MA, LMHC - "Focus on Gender: Blurry Lines and Exploding Categories

Carolyn Carlson describes her work with families of gender variant kids, including a case she followed from childhood into late adolescence, as the child’s gendered experience evolved. Sally Bjorklund explores non-binary as an identity category and, among other questions, wonders if it’s possible to escape the gender binary.

Presenter: Sabina Neem, MSW, MLSP, LICSW - “Imagining Ourselves into Being: an Exploratory Space Centering the Margins”

This facilitated space is for BIPOC (black, indigenous, people of color) clinicians to share the ways that we are affected by the culture of whiteness in our professional communities and in the room with our patients with the focus on moving towards greater personal freedom for ourselves and all.

Presenters: Brian Pendergast, MA, LMHC - Blurring the Lines:  An Exploration of Non-Analytic States of Mind in Analytic Relationships" and Samantha Good MSW LICSW - “No Memory, No Desire: A Confrontation with Missing Pieces”

Brian Pendergast's paper looks into analytic work in an evidence-based (and simultaneously postmodern) world; it will explore facets of the analyst's own trauma states that can create some of the rigidity commonly associated with cognitive therapy approaches, and addresses the usefulness of such self states in clinical interaction.

Samantha Good's case presentation explores the struggle to build a relationship with a patient whose infantile trauma and autistic defenses left her in an unrelated and concrete state of mind.  Drawing on my experience in infant observation as well as psychoanalytic theories of autism, I will describe my attempts to understand and connect to this challenging patient.

Author: Enika Cocoli Bowen, PhD“Faith as Blindness that Sees: Brief Exploration on Bion’s Transformation of Listening”

A reflection on the nature of faith as life experience in psychoanalysis and art, made possible by the author’s experience of observing Rembrandt’s last two masterpieces: The Return of the Prodigal Son and Simeon in the Temple (unfinished).

Second Sessions: 10:45 am - 12:15 pm

Presenters: Mara Applebaum, MA, PhD, LMHC, Helen Widlansky, PhD, Connie Sais, MA, LMHC -  “Focus Without Action: Links Between Infant Observation and Psychotherapy” 

Three clinicians share their experiences of infant observation and its essential component of focus without action as a way to receive and understand the baby's external and internal worlds. They will demonstrate how this silent reception and interpretation is just as important in the therapist-patient relationship.

Presenter: Joseph Hovey, LCSW -  “Exploring Together: Getting Clearer through Group Experience 

This interactive presentation invites participants to join a group process to explore their here-and-now experience. Following a brief framing in group theory, members will take part in an experiential process group with a goal of seeing what we learn when we get our experience and our communication into clearer focus.

Presenters: Melissa Meade, PhD. and Michael Allison, MA, LMHC - The Search for Our Selves: Narcissism in Twindom and ‘Self-Help'

This panel considers self and culture in psychoanalytic practice. The first paper applies psychoanalysis to 
the interrogation of self-help literature to illuminate both productive and corrosive formations of the self. The second paper draws from psychoanalytic theories of ego, self, gender, intimacy, and myth to explore autobiographical experience of twindom.

Presenter: Carol Poole, MA, LMHC - Whose Burden? Notes on Historical Trauma and Personal Memory”

Race needs careful focus if we want our profession to become more genuinely responsive to the needs of all our patients. I’ll explore psychoanalytic thinking about race, reflect on a trauma from my family history, and facilitate thoughtful conversation about personal memory, collective trauma, and clinical applications.

Catered Lunch: 12:30 pm - 1:30 pm

Announcements and Introductions by Susan Nelson, Alliance President: 1:30 pm - 1:45 pm

Plenary: 1:45 pm - 3:45 pm

Seeing's Believing, but Feeling's the Truth

As this often misquoted saying by 17th century physician Thomas Fuller suggests, we can be misguided by what we see and don't see. The Forum 2020 plenary will include two papers and a discussion that will focus on how our unmet needs and defenses obscure our perceptions, and explore how we can work with the implicit biases that we all carry, in order to reach a fuller understanding of our human condition.
"Falling Under the Speech Banana: Hearing, Loss, and Slipperiness of Identity"
Elana Kupor, MA, LMHC
Born with a severe hearing impairment that was not diagnosed until I was two and half years old, I spent the early part of my life without being able to hear human speech. Hearing aids later gave me enough hearing to be mainstreamed in our society--a place where people assume "normalcy" in others unless proven otherwise. This presentation explores what it is like to navigate the hearing world with a hearing loss. More globally, I will focus on how being "other" impacts identity, perceptions, and experiences in the human realm.


"Defense Against the Dark Arts: Reflections that Bring Unconscious Thoughts to the Surface"

Anthony Pennant Jr, MA, LMFT 

As therapists, we painstakingly take the time to unearth unmet needs in our clients, and help them to make meaning of what they need to move forward. We provide clarity to the areas of life that are clouded with uncertainty, often impacting themselves and others around them. However, we as therapists often forget to engage in this needed reflection. What happens when we neglect to pay attention to what we are feeling or embodying in our experiences? What happens when this same darkness clouds our ability to see and hear things with our client, such as disabilities both visible and invisible? This presentation will explore ways in which our own defenses color implicit bias in care of our clients and self. 

Alliance Board Hosted Wine and Cheese Party: 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm

This year the Alliance Board and Membership Committee invite you to a wine and cheese reception. Come join us to celebrate the Alliance, meet Committee members and learn more about ways to be involved! 



Contact Person: 
Gillian Vik
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