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Invited Workshops

The Compassion Focused Therapy Approach to Deal with Shame-Based Difficulties in Sexual Minorities

Nicola Petrocchi, Ph.D., Psy.D., John Cabot University; Compassionate Mind Italia, Rome – Italy

Hannah Gilbert, Ph.D., The Compassionate Mind Foundation, UK



1Nicola Petrocchi, Ph.D, Psy.D., is Adjunct Professor of Psychology at John Cabot University (Rome) and a licensed CBT psychotherapist based in Rome. He got his Ph.D. in Psychology and Social Neuroscience at Sapienza University of Rome. He is an accredited Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT) therapist and trainer in Italy, Europe and USA. He also established Compassionate Mind Italia. His research topic focuses on the physiological correlates of prosocial motivations, and the activation of compassion towards ourselves and others as a way to overcome pathological self-criticism and improve psychophysiological wellbeing. He is also involved in several RCTs testing the efficacy of CFT on several populations, and in particular on sexual minorities.  Read more about his work here. 
295785 720766837544 667110942 n Hannah Gilbert, Ph.D, has a BA (Hons) in Anthropology and a Ph.D. in Sociology. Her doctoral research explored narratives of spiritual experience in the British spirit medium community. She spent three years as a psychiatric support worker during her undergraduate degree, and has recently returned to working in mental health having qualified with an MSc in Integrative Psychotherapy in 2018. She is the Charity Development Officer for the Compassionate Mind Foundation, and runs her own event company, Compassionate Wellbeing, which offers compassion focused experiential workshops, and a small publishing company called Annwyn House. She is currently writing a book about compassion, ghostlore, and grief.


Course Description:

Sexual minorities face unique experiences (e.g., stigma, discrimination) related to their sexual minority identity, which make them particularly prone to develop mental difficulties connected to high levels of shame, internalized stigma and self-criticism. In particular, research is increasingly suggesting that LGB individuals might struggle with developing a sense of "inner safeness" and tend to experience difficulties in generating a compassionate attitude towards themselves and others, and be open to the compassion coming from others. In this half-day workshop we will explore how compassion focused therapy, a modern evolutionary and biopsychosocial psychotherapeutic approach, conceptualizes the mental difficulties that LGB individual might experience. Through instructions, experiential practices and reflective exercises we will show the core component of CFT and, in particular, how developing a sense of inner safeness through compassion and self-compassion counteracts the pathogenic effects of shame and self-criticism and promotes flourishing.


Arab LGBT Clients: The Do's and Don'ts in Psychotherapy

Brigitte Khoury, Ph.D., American University of Beirut, Lebanon


Brigitte Khoury, an associate professor and clinical psychologist at the Psychiatry Department at the Faculty of Medicine, American University of Beirut. She is the director of the Clinical Psychology Training Program as well as the Director of the Arab Regional Center for Research and Training in Mental Health. Her main activities revolve around her clinical work in providing psychotherapy to patients, teaching medical students, supervising psychology graduate students in their clinical training and conducting research.  Her research interests focus on issues related to sexuality and reproductive health, diagnostic and classification processes, and comparing psychology across international settings.

She is a member on the advisory group for the revision of the International Classification of Diseases with WHO-Geneva and the regional coordinator for the field studies in the Arab region. She is a consultant for several NGOs and UN bodies such as UNFPA, UNHCR, International Medical Corps and Medecins sans Frontieres. Dr. Khoury got her doctorate at Palo Alto University in California, and did her clinical training at Stanford University in California, where she is licensed to practice.

She is the founding president of the Lebanese Psychological Association and a current board member. She was instrumental in collaborating with the Ministry of Health in drafting practice laws to regulate the profession of psychology in Lebanon.

Dr. Khoury is well published internationally, and a member of several international psychology organizations such as the American Psychological Association, where she is the president elect of its International Division (Div. 52). She is also the vice president of the Arab Union of Psychological Science, and a member of the executive committee of the International Union of Psychological Science.


Course Description:

Arab LGBT clients living outside the Arab region are a double minority, through their ethnicity and their sexuality. Hence, their struggle often is on two fronts, which makes it more challenging and often affects their mental wellbeing. Therapists dealing with this population often also have their own myths, assumptions and often biases, which may be reflected in therapy. These issues will be explored with participants to highlight the importance of self-awareness as well as knowledge of the population at hand.

This half-day workshop will deal with interviewing and providing psychotherapy for LGBTQ clients from the Arab region. A brief introduction will cover the importance of the two main pillars of Arab societies, namely family and religion, and their impact on LGBT clients and the development of their identity. Research studies will be presented regarding attitudes and behaviors of Arab population around LGBTQ individuals and how they are treated. The work of NGOs and activist groups will be addressed, with focus on social change, advocacy and anti-SOCE efforts. Specific skills will be discussed in an interactive manner with workshop participants. For those clients or their parents requesting "conversion" therapy, guidance will be offered on how to explain the harms, present affirmative therapy as an alternative, or meet the needs and concerns of those who underwent such therapy in the past. Cases, role-plays and videos will be used to highlight the difficulties Arab LGBTQ refugee clients face and how to address these challenges in therapy.


Featured Workshops

Elfogadás és Elköteleződés Terápia gender és szexuális kisebbségekkel való munkában [Hungarian Language Workshop; Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for working with gender and sexual minorities]

Nikolett Eisenbeck, Ph.D.Karoli Gáspár University, Budapest, Hungary

Károly K. Schlosser, MScGoldsmiths, University of London, UK

Nikolett Eisenbeck, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor at Karoli Gáspár University in Budapest, Hungary. She is currently the President of the Hungary Chapter of the Association for Contextual Behavioral Therapy. "I see being a professor, a researcher, and a therapist as a three-legged chair: for me, the balance would be lost with one leg missing. It is my firm belief that to be a psychologist is not just a job; it is a way of life, an adventure full of opportunities to make a meaningful contribution to society."

Károly K. Schlosser, MSc: Both in my research and consultancy I work with the vision to help people to experience a productive, vital and meaningful life. At this end, my PhD research focuses on contextual behavioural science; that is to identify fundamental psychological processes with
 the aim to activate contextually and functionally relevant, adaptive, flexible behaviours of people. I utilise mindfulness, and acceptance and commitment therapy based interventions to increase individuals', dyads', groups' or organisations' productivity, psychological well-being, improve the cohesion between and amongst teams, their ability to innovate, as well as leaders' transformational leadership competencies. I often apply these in environments, where absolute peak performance is required, such as with British and Hungarian Olympic and Paralympic athletes and coaches, including Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020, teachers and A-level students preparing for their final exams, analogue astronauts in Mars analog mission simulations, and I consult the Astronaut Operations Team of the European Space Agency.

Course Description:

A nemi és szexuális kisebbségek specifikus nehézségekkel néznek szembe. Míg a magas pszichés stressz következtében ezek a közösségek nagy valószínűséggel keresnek terápiás segítséget, megfelelő professzionális támogatás ritkán érhető el számukra, továbbá a pszichológusok és terapeuták sem érzik magukat megfelelően felkészültnek és képzettnek a szexualitás és a gender témaköreiben a hatékony munkához a klinikai gyakorlatban.  Az ACT (Elfogadás és Elköteleződés Terápia) –  a kognitív viselkedésterápiás irányzatok ún. harmadik hullámaként megjelenve egy hatékony módszert kínál a pszichológiai jóllét növeléséhez a különböző csoportokban és kontextusokban, beleértve a szexuális és nemi kisebbségeket is. Az ACT a nehéz gondolatok és érzések elfogadását, az egyén számára fontos értékek melletti elkötelezett cselekvések kialakítását segíti, maximalizálva a humán erőforrásokat/lehetőségeket a minél teljesebb élet eléréséhez, nehéz környezeti hatások fennállása mellett is. Az ACT gyakorlatorientált megközelítéssel alkalmazza az önmagunkkal való együttérzés (self-compassion), tudatos jelenlét (mindfulness), továbbá az értékek iránti elköteleződést támogató technikákat. Ez a bevezető workshop betekintést nyújt az ACT módszer eszköztárába, különös tekintettel azokra a technikákra, amelyek a különböző tanítási technikákkal együtt felhasználva – mint pl. didaktikus párbeszéd, tapasztalati gyakorlatok, szerepjáték – különösen hatékonyak a szexuális és nemi kisebbségekhez tartozó kliensekkel végzett munkában. A cél, hogy a workshop során az ACT-ről használható ismeretanyagot nyújtsunk, mely hozzájárul azoknak a nehézségeknek a megértéséhez, mellyel ez a populáció néz szembe, valamint, hogy olyan terápiás eszközöket adjunk át, mely használható a kliensekkel végzett közös munka során. 

[Gender and sexual minorities face unique concerns; while these communities are likely to seek therapeutic support due to high levels of psychological distress, professional support in this domain is rarely available, moreover many psychologists and therapists do not feel adequately educated or efficacious discussing topics related to sexuality and gender in clinical practice. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) offers an effective alternative from of cognitive behavioral therapies in improving psychological health in diverse range of populations and contexts, including sexual and gender minorities. ACT achieves these by teaching psychological skills to accept difficult thoughts and feelings and by effectively committing to value based actions that maximize human potential towards a meaningful life, even in difficult contexts. At this end ACT takes a pragmatic approach utilizing self-compassion, mindfulness and values-related techniques. This introductory workshop will present some of those ACT techniques that are especially effective in working with gender and sexual minority clients, using a variety of teaching methods, including didactic presentations, experiential exercises, and role-playing. It aims to provide the participants with a workable set of ACT skills that will allow understanding some of the problems this population faces and provide therapeutic tools to apply in your work with these clients.]

A Minority Stress Approach to Adapting Evidence-Based Therapies for Gender Expansive Youth

Jeremy A. Wernick, LMSW, Child Study Center, Hassenfeld Children's Hospital, NYU, USA 

Jeremy A. Wernick, LMSW is a Clinical Assistant Professor at the Child Study Center of Hassenfeld Children's Hospital at NYU Langone working in the Gender and Sexuality Service and Anita Saltz Institute for Anxiety and Mood Disorders. Mr. Wernick completed the Foundational Course in Transgender Health provided by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) and completed Intensive Training in Dialectical Behavior Therapy through Behavioral Tech, LLC. Mr. Wernick's clinical practice focuses on providing evidence-based care to children and adolescents with gender dysphoria and co-occurring mood and anxiety disorders, many of whom engage in life-threatening behaviors. Mr. Wernick is a member of WPATH and the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies (ABCT).

Course Description:

Professional organizations and experts in the field of transgender health, including the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies and the World Professional Association for Transgender Health, recommend that psychosocial treatments for transgender and gender expansive (TGGE) youth with co-occurring mental health conditions should be adapted to be gender affirming, though there are few resources detailing practical ways of doing so. This half-day workshop presents a frame for applying minority stress theory to the adaptation of cognitive behavioral techniques for anxiety and mood disorders. We will summarize research demonstrating the unique impact of gender identity on the adaptation and treatment of mental health disorders and how a gender affirming approach can engage children, teens, and families in treatment. We will provide specific recommendations for creating gender affirming spaces and how to incorporate minority stress theory into evidence-based individual and group treatments to address mental health concerns. We will offer examples for adapting Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) techniques, including exposure and cognitive restructuring, to both validate gender identity and meet the mental health needs of gender expansive youth. We will also provide rationale for applying principles of Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) to the treatment of mental health disorders among gender expansive youth, emphasizing balancing a change orientation with acceptance-based strategies. Finally, we will facilitate exercises on using acceptance-based strategies, such as self-validation and distress tolerance skills, to respond to experiences of discrimination in the context of treatment for anxiety and mood disorders among gender minority youth.

ALIVE for greater understanding, meaning, and skills

Frank Bond, Ph.D., Goldsmiths, University of London, UK

Jonathan R. Dowling, Ph.D.Goldsmiths, University of London, UK

Károly K. Schlosser, MScGoldsmiths, University of London, UK

Frank W. Bond, PhD, is Professor of Psychology and Management at Goldsmiths, University of London, where he is also Director of the Institute of Management Studies (IMS). Prior to establishing the IMS in 2011, Frank was Head of the Department of Psychology at Goldsmiths, and he began his academic career at University College London. For over 20 years, Frank has used randomised controlled trials and longitudinal studies to examine contextual behavioural science approaches and theories for predicting and influencing human health and performance in work, educational, community, and clinical contexts. He has also examined how individual differences-most notably, psychological flexibility-interact with organisational structures, processes, and strategies to enhance performance- and health-related variables. He has conducted this research in organisations ranging from the UK government and the BBC, to the European Space Agency, and the "Team GB" British Olympic team. His research has been published widely and has been cited over 14,000 times in academic and professional publications. Frank is proud to be a peer-reviewed ACT trainer, Fellow and Past-President of the Association for Contextual Behavioral Sciences.

Jonathan R. Dowling, Ph.D.: My academic and professional experience has focused on implementing, testing and developing RFT, ACT and newer contextual behavioural science approaches. I was awarded annual academic scholarships and received a first-class honours degree in Psychology at the National University of Ireland, Galway. Following this, I undertook a PhD at University College Dublin under the supervision of Dr. Louise McHugh which was funded by the Irish Research Council's Enterprise Partnership Scheme. As part of this scholarship I received additional funding and an applied traineeship under the supervision of clinical and organisational psychologists at The Performance Partnership Ltd for the duration of my PhD. Over the past two years I have worked as a postdoctoral research fellow with Professor Frank Bond at Goldsmiths, University of London. From my PhD, to my current role, my research has primarily focused on testing and developing theoretical CBS accounts of how people relate to one another, and act for a purpose. Through this work I have consulted with a wide range of organisations from the Health Service Executive and the Law Society of Ireland, to large multi-national law firms and the European Space Agency.

Károly K. Schlosser, MSc: Both in my research and consultancy I work with the vision to help people to experience a productive, vital and meaningful life. At this end, my PhD research focuses on contextual behavioural science; that is to identify fundamental psychological processes with
 the aim to activate contextually and functionally relevant, adaptive, flexible behaviours of people. I utilise mindfulness, and acceptance and commitment therapy based interventions to increase individuals', dyads', groups' or organisations' productivity, psychological well-being, improve the cohesion between and amongst teams, their ability to innovate, as well as leaders' transformational leadership competencies. I often apply these in environments, where absolute peak performance is required, such as with British and Hungarian Olympic and Paralympic athletes and coaches, including Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020, teachers and A-level students preparing for their final exams, analogue astronauts in Mars analog mission simulations, and I consult the Astronaut Operations Team of the European Space Agency.

Course Description:

ALIVE is an acronym for Actively Living as an Individual who is Vitally Embodied. It is a psychosocial model for predicting and influencing how people can live dynamic, healthy, and skilful lives by interacting in their everyday events, as the person they wish to be: for what is truly important to them. Like Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT), ALIVE is fundamentally grounded in Contextual Behavioural Science (CBS), and some see ALIVE as an evolution of ACT. Consistent with such a view, ALIVE is overwhelmingly based on the pragmatic-existential work of Heidegger (1927; 1935), and the elaborations of it by Dreyfus (1972) and de Beauvoir (1947). ALIVE's psychological roots and analytic basis stem directly from, and have influenced advancements in, Relational Frame Theory. There is growing research that the ALIVE's model has a greater degree of precision, scope, and depth than do other applications of CBS, such as ACT. As a result, we hypothesise that ALIVE may further CBS' goals of predicting and influencing human behaviour, especially as they relate to enhancing people's ability to live a life of greater understanding, meaning, and everyday (and even expert) skill. This session discusses initial tests of the ALIVE model, involving nearly 10,000 participants across eight studies, that begin to examine these bold propositions. It also provides delegates with key ALIVE exercises that they can use in their own work with gender and sexual minorities.

Gender Affirming Clinical Skills for Helping Professionals

August Stockwell, Ph.D., BCBA-D, The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, USA 

August Stockwell, Ph.D., BCBA-D., is the Associate Director of Research in the Applied Behavior Analysis Department of The Chicago School of Professional Psychology's Chicago campus. Over the past 10 years, their research has focused on topics including polyamory, communication in relationships, gender, sexual behavior, BDSM, mindfulness, and effective skill-building strategies. August has a vision of using precise measurement and an individualized approach to connect people to affirming, accessible interventions that create meaningful change. In addition to their work at The Chicago School, August is the Founder and Director of Research and Programs at Upswing Advocates: a nonprofit organization that provides sliding scale trainings and research opportunities that support the LGBTQIA community.

Course Description:

Transgender and gender nonconforming (TGNC) identities have gained increasing visibility within recent years, and gender plays a significant role in how social interactions are constructed for people of all gender identities. This workshop provides an overview of key concepts and social practices related to gender, as well as ways that four major U.S. ethical codes (BACB, APA, NASW, and NBCC) address gender. The instructor will facilitate a nonjudgmental space for participants to ask questions, explore new content, and brainstorm ways to build gender-affirming practices in their professional work. Participants will learn specific strategies that behavioral and mental health professionals can use to promote gender-affirming interactions with their clients, staff, and others, and practice applying these skills using clinical scenarios. Empirically supported literature and data will be presented where applicable and available, and questions and discussion will be welcomed throughout the workshop.

Learning Objectives:

1.    Select key differences between gender identity, sex assigned at birth, gender roles, gender expression, and sexual orientation. 

2.    State several common misconceptions related to gender, and explain how they can contribute to un-affirming behaviors. 

3.    State several concrete strategies for creating a gender-affirming environment for clients and colleagues.

4.    In a group setting, attendees will introduce themselves using their personal pronoun(s), and use the correct names and pronouns of other attendees. 

5.    In a situation where an incorrect name or pronoun is used, attendees will provide feedback regarding the correct language to be used, and will also self-correct in the moment when given feedback.

Process-Based Contextual Behavioral Therapy for Minority Stress among Gender and Sexual Minority Clients

Matthew D. Skinta, Ph.D., ABPP, Independent Practice, San Francisco, USA

Aisling Leonard-Curtin, M.Sc., C.Psychol., Ps.S.I., ACT Now Purposeful Living, Dublin, Ireland


Matthew D. Skinta, PhD, ABPP, is an Assistant Professor at Roosevelt University and a board-certified clinical health psychologist who lives with his husband between Chicago, IL, and San Francisco, CA. His private practice focuses on challenges posed by shame and interpersonal rejection and their interaction with health behaviors or minority status. Matthew's past research has focused on the impact of stigma and shame on health behaviors of sexual minority men, particularly as it relates to sexual health and HIV-related care. He is a peer-reviewed acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) trainer, and is certified as both a compassion cultivation training (CCT) teacher, and as a trainer of functional analytic psychotherapy (FAP). Matthew co-edited Mindfulness and Acceptance for Gender and Sexual Minorities. He is currently writing a clinical manual on process-based therapy for treating minority stress among sexual orientation and gender diverse clients that will be released by Routledge in 2020.   
1Aisling Leonard-Curtin, M.Sc., C.Psychol., Ps.S.I., is a chartered counselling psychologist with the Psychological Society of Ireland who lives with her wife Trish in Dublin, Ireland. She is a TEDx speaker, co-director of Act Now Purposeful Living, has a small private practice, and consults with a number of organisations to deliver acceptance and mindfulness workshops. Aisling is a peer-reviewed acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) and functional analytic psychotherapy (FAP) trainer.  Aisling co-edited Mindfulness and Acceptance for Gender and Sexual Minorities. Aisling co-authored The Power of Small alongside her wife, fellow psychologist Trish, a self-help book aimed at those feeling overwhelmed, which will be released in early 2019.  Aisling has led public workshops since 2010.


Course Description:

Despite incredible advances in the science of psychological distress or well-being among gender and sexual minority (GSM) clients, changes in treatment have lagged. Most resources are dedicated to the need for an affirming and non-rejecting stance, though these do not meet the needs of therapist's who wish to align their practice with the most current of data. This workshop will teach process-based behavioral techniques that take advantage of research on minority stress and emotion regulation. The workshop will incorporate both theoretical and experiential work. Moving through life as a gender or sexual minority often entails some period of secrecy, guardedness, shame, and familial ruptures. We will explore the therapeutic techniques that tackle these concerns in the therapy hour and within the therapeutic relationship. This workshop will also aid clinicians in cultivating their own compassion and values toward meeting the challenges of moving through life as a GSM person, particularly through targeting the therapist's own history of cultural messages about gender and sexuality. Through the use of awareness, courage, therapeutic love, compassion, perspective-taking, and acceptance, participants will grow in their ability to relate as gendered and sexual beings. From this place, powerful and therapeutic relationships can blossom. Clinician's will leave with a greater understanding of how concepts such as minority stress, rejection sensitivity, and shame can be better responded to in session. Particularly attention will be made toward the cultural and global concerns that arise as both acceptance and animus are on the rise globally toward GSM communities.