President’s Corner

by Annette Conway, Psy.D.

Welcome to the Spring 2017 issue of the San Diego Psychologist!

My beginnings in clinical practice were a time of trial and error, as beginnings often are.  Early in my career, I had not established whether (and at what point in therapy) to include the partner or family of an individual client. When I did encourage my clients to bring significant others or family members to session, they would show up with their spouse, mother, father, maybe a brother, and so on. My most memorable experience from those early days is about a Latino client, to whom I implored at the end of a session, “Por favor come in with your family”.  The next week, imagine my surprise when I saw that the gentleman had arrived with 23 members of his family!

I learned two important lessons on that fateful day: that I needed to have more structure in my therapeutic process and that family is a vital part of treatment. In my 20 years of practice, I have worked with many, many clients, and the one thing I keep coming back to is the value of treating the client in the context of his or her family, rather than as an autonomous individual.

African American Family

Artist Unknown (Sourced from Pinterest)

I am pleased to focus this issue of the San Diego Psychologist on Couples and Family Therapy. Research shows that Marriage and Family Therapy is as (and in some cases, more) effective than Individual Therapy, in that it facilitates the change in patterns created by the family system. For clinical reasons, couples and family counseling gives the therapist an opportunity to conduct a thorough biopsychosocial assessment of the couple or family needs. Valuable information regarding family dynamics, coping abilities, communication skills, social relationships, and conflict-resolution skills, in addition to the individual client’s self-report can contribute to a more accurate case formulation and therefore, a more appropriate treatment plan. In addition, how the therapist “experiences” the couple and/or family supports or questions organizational abilities, boundary fluidity, cultural and religious customs, and daily rituals of the client.

As you read this issue of the San Diego Psychologist, we want to remind you of SDPA’s full-day conference on cutting-edge issues and up-to-date information on complex issues facing youth, families and communities, in collaboration with The California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, San Diego Chapter, The San Diego Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and the San Diego Psychiatric Society. It has been exciting working closely with our allied professional associations to provide this valuable educational opportunity to clinical practitioners, educators, behavioral health, and child welfare and community organizations in San Diego County.

The CICAMH collaborative also sponsors a Free Networking Event every August at a local brewery.  This year’s Summer Networking Social is scheduled for Sunday, August 27, 2017, 3:00pm – 6:00pm at Stone Brewery, Liberty Station 2816 Historic Decatur Rd #116, San Diego, CA 92106.

Register at:

It is a great opportunity to connect with other individuals with the purpose of enhancing professional and social networks, in addition to learning more about community resources.  I hope to see you all there!


Dr. Conway is a clinical psychologist in private practice and the President of the San Diego Psychological Association

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