The 7th Annual UCF Counseling Conference, happening February 6-7 on the UCF campus in Orlando, is an opportunity for counselors, psychologists, social workers, school psychologists, researchers, and current students in the helping professions to discuss, collaborate on, and advance issues within the field. The conference invites attendees from all specializations including: mental health, school, addiction, and career counselors, as well as social workers and marriage and family therapists.

This year the conference’s theme focuses on collaboration across the helping professions, and the internationalization of the counseling field – recognizing and preparing for the needs of students, clients, and professionals throughout the different regions and cultures of the world. Nearly all of the sessions will incorporate information related to the internationalization of counseling and other helping professions, including the blending of best practices and various approaches to global issues.

“A lot of international students are coming into the United States for training, so how do we prepare them to make the lessons applicable both here and back home? When it comes to international counseling, the lines are not as clearly defined as they are in the United States,” says Hannah Acquaye, doctoral student in UCF’s Counselor Education program and lead coordinator for this year’s counseling conference. “So a conference like this is meant to bring all of the helping professions in the United States together. Some of them have had international experiences that they share with us, and the international students are able to take this information home and apply it.”

This year’s keynote speaker, Dr. Jeffrey Kottler, is professor of counseling at California State University in Fullerton, and has authored dozens of highly regarded books about the counseling profession. His presentation, entitled Stories We’ve Heard, Stories We’ve Told: Life-Changing Narratives in the Helping Professions, will offer attendees an expansive view of one of the universal parts of human experience that can be extremely useful to the counseling profession – storytelling. The stories that we tell, live, see, hear, and experience all influence our ways of thinking and understanding, and utilizing that shared human practice can be beneficial to counselors and clients alike.

“One of the unique things about this conference is how intentionally we have sought to collaborate with colleagues from the other helping professions,” says Dr. Bryce Hagedorn, program director of Counselor Education at UCF. “Another aspect that makes this conference unique is its emphasis on international issues and how those impact the clients we serve. Students and practitioners alike will be exposed to some of the newer, evidence-based practices in an effort to equip them to better serve clients in the community.”

Additional presentations will include cultural immersion and the counselor trainee, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and its application at home and abroad, discussions about the part that each of the helping professionals plays in addressing client problems, and the academic needs of international students in US counseling programs.

The 7th Annual UCF Counseling Conference takes place at the UCF Teaching Academy and Morgridge International Reading Center buildings on the University of Central Florida campus. On-site registration will be available, and students, faculty, and professionals in the counseling fields are encouraged to attend.