Sunday, February 08, 2009

Western Canadian Youth & Family Addictions (WCYFA) Conference

First day of the Western Canadian Youth & Family Addictions (WCYFA) Conference. I should add the first day of the first ever WCYFA conference and that it was sold out well before the registration deadline. The planning committee had members from all over Western and Northern Canada. Notably, ASAPBC, the Centre for Addictions Research, VIHA, Alberta Health Services, Northern Health, BC Mental Health and Addictions, the Province of BC and a few others partnered to put on the three day event. Big kudo's to Stacey LeBlanc (of ASAPBC), event coordinator, for pulling it all together.

As with most conferences it was opened by someone who introduced the person who did the opening blessing (Dear Song with drum, very nicely done), who was followed by Michelle Dartnell, the planning committee Chair, who introduced Scott Miller who did the Opening Keynote.

About two minutes into the Keynote it was clear that Scott Miller was going to keep everyone's attention. He's dynamic, funny, genuine and clearly one of the best presenters I've been been privy to. In addition he knows how to use a PowerPoint.. Lots of pictures and sounds, not so much writing. He even had a pop quiz. You can download the presentation he used in the Keynote and the sessions on Supershrinks from here but note that it is a big download, in three separate pdf's. Takes a few minutes even with a fast server, but don't give up, it's worth the wait.

Many things caught my attention while Scott told engaging stories, poked fun at CBT (and every other model you can think of) and educated the very large group on the importance of effect size and the difference between evidence based practice and practice based evidence. The most notable "ideas" and quotes follow.

Quote: "Treatment planning is not science, it's science fiction... (Start treatment planning sessions with) in a galaxy, far, far away.."

Counselors,ad the field in general, have a marketing problem.

Most change happens in the first 4-6 weeks. 1/3 of change happens PRIOR to the first session.

Success in treatment does not depend on the model used. Pretty much all models show the same rate of success.

Successful treatment, better outcomes depend on alliance aka the relationship between the counselor and the client.The better the relationship the better the outcome.

Research on Project Match and CBT says that CBT is not introduced until after the fourth session. (when does most change happen???)

Premature drop-out is the biggest problem.

To have better treatment outcomes - Change what doesn't work!

Magic Question - How was that for you?

Formalize "how was that for you using Outcome Rating Scale (ORS) ans Session Rating Scale (SRS), both available for free at and .

Three steps to getting better at what you do:

1. Create a culture of feedback.

2. Integrate alliance and outcome feedback into clinical care.

3. Learn to "fail successfully".

Wisdom of Crowds reference - Compare your outcomes with larger group.

What came to mind as I listened to the Keynote was how similar this was to what I learned about facilitating or instructing. I mean when you run a group you always start with a check in that provides a sense of where the group and the individuals in the group are right now. The you get tacit and explicit feedback throughout and then again at the end, informally and formally.

Perhaps this is always done in group because a group can turn on you.. really quickly. So there is lots of pay value in engaging and maintaining a group. Not so much with individual clients. they will just not come back.

K, this is getting too long. More to follow about the actual sessions.

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