L to R: Brittany Huelett, Zephon Lister, Lilena Walker, Karlet Reyes, Danna Carter, Sandra Banjoko, Bryan Cafferky, Natalie Hsieh, Jennifer Torres
By Zephon Lister (Associate Professor) - July 22, 2019

Loma Linda University’s Department of Counseling and Family Sciences (CFS) was well-represented at the 2019 American Family Therapy Academy (AFTA) Conference in Oakland, California. CFS students, faculty, and alumni were listed as presenters on just under twenty-five percent of the over sixty-five presentations given at this year’s conference.

Seven students currently enrolled in the Systems, Families, and Couples (SFC) PhD program attended the conference, along with three faculty presenters and mentors (SFC program director Zephon Lister, Bryan Cafferky, and Brian Distelberg). Five of the students were first-time presenters at any national professional conference, and many of their presentations resulted from the weekly SFC Professional Research Presentation and Publication group, in which students work on scholarly projects toward their Professional Development Portfolios.

Content for the 2019 conference was based on the idea of "Rupture and Repair: Remaking Relationships in Families and Communities." Utilizing this theme, students developed presentations with the support of faculty mentors, including:

  • Danna Carter and Brian Distelberg - "Relationships for Social Change"
  • Jennifer Torres, Karlet Reyes, and Zephon Lister - "Living as a Filipino American: History and Healing"
  • Natalie Hsieh, Sandra Banjoko, alumna Jessica ChenFeng, and Zephon Lister - "Bicultural Shame Resiliency for Chinese Americans"
  • Lilena Walker, Brittany Huelett, Karlet Reyes, Kathleen Tran, and Zephon Lister - "African Diaspora: Implications for Couples Therapy"

Chis Hoff, a 2016 alumnus of the PhD program, was one of the plenary speakers and presented "Taking the Lead: Repair in the Therapeutic Relationship." In addition to making presentations, alumni such as Lana Kim and Jessica ChenFeng served as conference coordinators and section moderators. Amy Tuttle, a 2005 alumna of the PhD program, was recently elected to the position of President of the American Family Therapy Academy. In all, more than ten CFS alumni participated in the 2019 AFTA conference. It was exciting to reconnect with alumni and to lay the groundwork for future professional collaborations with our current students!