VAMFT is Now Independent

Pursuant to the recent vote on revised by-laws and subject to final sign-off from AAMFT, VAMFT is no longer a division of AAMFT. This outcome is the result of the change in AAMFT by-laws that required some change in the various divisions, removing the historic dual membership requirement, I.e., members were required to join both the national association AND their respective division. When this requirement was dissolved, it become necessary for the divisions to select from several optional organizational options, including ending the division entirely. The VAMFT Board of Directors unanimously decided to propose to the membership that VAMFT continue as a wholly independent not-for-profit rather than any of the other options,  The option of becoming independent was overwhelming selected by VAMFT’s membership (107 – 8). The current VAMFT Board of Directors will continue as the Board of the “new” VAMFT, but many things, e.g., the logo, will be changing. A new dues structure will be created and current VAMFT members will be invited to join (or, technically) re-join VAMFT.

Please be patient as we move into this new territory. Call me or email me with questions, suggestions or concerns.  It is not clear that the Executive Director position will continue as we move forward, but we will try to keep you informed.  In the mean time, we urge you to remain members of AAMFT; join the FamilyTEAM to promote and support mft advocacy issues at both state and local levels; and, more than anything, stay try to the systemic principles that provide us, as mft’s, a powerful set of interventions to help the families, couples and individuals that we serve.

Arnold Woodruff, Executive Director, VAMFT; (804) 370-6154



Here’s the latest from Charlottesville regarding providing pro bono counseling services. If you are interested, please respond. The coordinator is John Rogers. His email is:  
“Hi All, a quick update for you:
“It was a quiet day at the library, with only a couple of consultations and about 20 walk-up interactions at the front desk.  We did a local TV spot to spread the work, and we are also in touch with city and county DSS folks so they know we are here.  The emotions on display at the city council meeting last night are evidence of what is still just below the surface.
“Many thanks to Dr. Nancy Miller, who returns home to PA with her therapy dog tomorrow.  Nancy was tireless doing assertive outreach all over downtown, including spending most of today with our police department.
“We are open all day tomorrow, and have two clinician openings noon-5, and help at the front desk is needed 9-6.  If we are quiet at the library, you can do outreach on the mall, at the park, and at the free speech wall.  Just let me know if you are free, or drop by the library.
“Our plan is to discontinue this service after Saturday and hand it off to CAVA and the other organizations offering drop-in services. Let’s hope we don’t need it again anytime soon.”

2017 Fall Workshop


The Virginia Association for Marriage and Family Therapy


Walking the Delicate Balance: Working Systemically with Complex Developmental Trauma

2017 Fall Workshop

Attachment, Attunement, Aggravation

6 CE Hours

Mary Jo Barrett, MSW

Friday, November 3rd, 2017

8:00am — 3:30pm

George Mason University
Fairfax, Virginia

Click Here to Register


Download a copy of the brochure (.pdf)



Complex developmental trauma is associated with a range of experiences occurring at key points in human development. Important strides have been made in the ability of therapists to help clients overcome symptoms of complex developmental trauma. At least for the time clients are with us in the therapy room, clients are able to learn and access new ways of thinking, self-regulation, and even a sense of restored well-being. But, once they leave the safe, rarefied space of the therapy room, do they have the skills to address the difficulties or problems they will experience in relationships with intimates, family, friends and co-workers?

Using a systemic approach creates an opportunity for clients to understand their own and the other’s inner experience, and to learn and practice self-regulation and co-regulation. By creating a collaborative context in therapy, clients are encouraged to demonstrate and to witness change along with the most important people in their life. Thus, the therapist invites the couple, the family, and extended relationship network into the therapy room to enable those to be transformed into healing relationships.

Through therapeutic enactments, what happens at home or in the community can be experienced and shifted while in the therapy room. Triggers and patterns can be revealed and then interrupted. A corrective experience can be created through a process of validation, affirmation, and attunement. In front of the stimulus, people learn skills to alter distorted cognition, manage anxieties, hold affect, regulate emotion, navigate attachment, evolve self-concept, and experience a window of tolerance.

For therapists working with complex developmental trauma, this workshop will:

  • Illustrate how to integrate systemic models of family, couple and relational therapy into treatment
  • Explore the role of systemic intervention when violence or trauma is currently occurring in a family
  • Illuminate family of origin work with adult survivors
  • Show how to bring the family or relational network into the room in spirit even if they cannot be there in body
  • Teach specific interventions that can be used at each stage of the treatment process
  • Highlight essential ingredients for successful outcomes
  • Illustrate how to transfer benefits of therapy into the client’s natural life of relationships


About the Presenter

Mary Jo Barrett is Executive Director and founder of The Center for Contextual Change, Ltd. She holds a Masters in Social Work from the University of Illinois Jane Addams School of Social Work and has been on faculties of the University of Chicago, School of Social Service Administration, the Chicago Center for Family Health, and the Family Institute of Northwestern University. Previously, Ms Barrett was Clinical Director of Midwest Family Resource; she has been working in the field of family violence since 1974.

Ms Barrett’s latest book, Treating Complex Trauma: A Relational Blueprint for Collaboration and Change, co-authored by Linda Stone Fish, published in June 2014. Ms Barrett also co-authored two books with Dr Terry Trepper: Incest: A Multiple Systems Perspective and The Systemic Treatment of Incest: A Therapeutic Handbook. She co-created the Collaborative Change Model, a highly successful contextual model of therapy used to transform the lives of those impacted by abuse and/or traumatic events. Her passion is teaching and supporting clinicians to recognize their own resources so that they can help clients discover their own resources.

Ms Barrett founded the Family Dialogue Project, a mediation program striving to redefine relationships within families that have been impacted by allegations of abuse or differences that appear irreconcilable. Ms Barrett’s dedication is to help both clients and professionals to find peaceful nonviolent resources, in order to manage the complexity of their lives. Her trainings and published works focus on the teaching of the Collaborative Change Model, treatment for: family and couple violence; Complex Trauma; adult survivors of sexual abuse and trauma; eating disorders; couple therapy; Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and Compassion Fatigue.


Click Here to Register


Download a copy of the brochure (.pdf)



Registration is limited to licensed mental health professionals (LMFT, LPC, LCSW, LCP, Psychiatrists, Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners), Residents/Supervisees, and Graduate Students currently enrolled in these disciplines. Enrollment is on a first come, first served basis.

Click here to register online or download the printed brochure, complete the registration information panel, and enclose payment to VAMFT for the correct amount. This covers workshop, handouts, CE certificate of attendance, continental breakfast, morning and afternoon coffee, and parking in Mason Pond Parking Deck (voucher provided at workshop completion). Lunch is on your own and you can choose from a variety of restaurants located in the atrium of the Johnson Center.

If you are paying by check, please make it payable to VAMFT, and mail both your check and a registration form to:

Scott Fowler
101 Nat Turner Blvd.
Newport News, VA 23606


Cancellation & Refund Policy

Any cancellation of attendance must be made in writing and received by VAMFT no later than 10/6/17; a refund less $35 processing fee will be provided. After this date refunds are not possible, regardless of personal circumstances. It is regrettable that personal circumstances prevent attendance, including medical conditions and emergencies, weather or transportation, however the logistics of event management prevent us from assuming responsibility for these contingencies. A registration may be transferred to another clinician in toto with prior notification to VAMFT.



The George Mason University official address is 4400 University Dr, Fairfax, VA 22030. Workshop is located in the Johnson Center at the heart of the University. Downstairs, in Dewberry Hall. The registration desk opens at 7:30 a.m. Workshop begins promptly at 8:00 a.m. and concludes at 3:30 p.m. to enable attendees to depart ahead of traffic in the region. Attendees must sign in. Certificates are awarded only on conference completion at 3:30 p.m. A voucher will be provided at workshop completion to enable free parking at the Mason Pond Parking Deck. Johnson Center is adjacent to the bronze statue of George Mason.

Arrangements for 25% discounted hotel rate have been made with Marriott Residence Inn, 3565 Chainbridge Rd, Fairfax. Phone hotel reservations at (877) 399 6027. Make reservations prior to 10/12/17 and cite VAMFT to receive this rate.


Contact Information

For questions about the conference please contact Scott Fowler (



Sponsored as a service to the profession by
the Virginia Association for Marriage & Family Therapy

Ronnie Zuessman, PhD LCP LMFT, Past President




Information about our Spring Conference


The Virginia Association for Marriage and Family Therapy


Doing Therapy with Couples & Families –

Ethical & Professional Issues


Michael Gillette, PhD

Jaime Hoyle, JD
Exec Dir VA Board of Counseling

Erika Grafsky, PhD
Asst Prof, Virginia Tech

May 5, 2017              8:30am-4:30pm

Fee Increase Announced

Special Notice:  The Board of Counseling recently announced fee increases for Marriage and Family Therapists as well as all of the other licenses that they regulate, effective February 8, 2017.  Please click here for details.  They did not yet appear in the regulations document on the BOC website as of the publication of this notice.


Arnold Woodruff, LMFT


Executive Director, VAMFT

  • Clinical Fellow of AAMFT since 1981
  • Approved Supervisor in AAMFT since 1984
  • Over 45 years of experience in public and not-for-profit behavioral health and child welfare settings, including;
    • Director, Mental Health Division, Prince William County (VA) CSB
    • Director, Juvenile Mental Health Services, Alexandria (VA) CSB
    • Regional Program Director, Region IV Consortium of CSB’s
    • Clinical Director and Co-owner, Help Your Way, Richmond, VA
  • Several terms on Board of Dirctors of Virginia and Illinois AMFT’s, including two terms as President in Virginia.
  • Legislative Liaison, Virgina AMFT
  • Site visitor, COAMFTE
  • Member (2nd term currently) AAMFT Minority Fellowship Program
  • Frequent presenter at AAMFT National Conference

Back to VAMFT Board Members Page

Dr. Ronnie Zuessman, President

PRESIDENT, Virginia Association for Marriage and Family Therapy


Dr. Ronnie Zuessman, PhD  LCP  LMFT  LPC

mobile  (347)  267  3170

PO Box 4523, Fairfax VA 22038

Back to VAMFT Board Members Page

As a Clinical Fellow and Approved Supervisor in AAMFT since the early 1980s, my interest is in promoting the availability of systemically informed psychotherapy to the many individuals, couples and families who have the need for quality professional services.

I have an extensive background in public service and private practice, and in graduate teaching and clinical supervision.  Licensed in Virginia as a Clinical Psychologist, Marriage and Family Therapist, and Professional Counselor, I have an appreciation of the disciplines, the preparation of practitioners, and how each may serve the people who reach out for assistance with the difficulties or problems they are experiencing.

Today, some of the stigma for seeking mental health (or what is now called behavioral health) services has diminished.  However, because of a system of insurance payment that relies and narrowly focuses upon a diagnosis of mental disorder located within one individual, practitioners with lesser preparation than Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists often miss the dynamics of the relationship or family system that are contributing to the ‘problem’ seen in the person suffering with symptoms.  By entering therapy with a LMFT there is enhanced opportunity to address those dynamics and to seek resolution.

This new era is calling upon LMFTs to maintain a balance between the needs of people presenting as our clients, understandings of systemically oriented theories, research informed practice, and the pressures of the contemporary health care system and pop culture expectations.  Our foremost concern is the welfare of our clients, and bringing to them excellent, ethical clinical practice, taking into account the client’s unique experience, culture, ethnicity, spirituality, identity and history.

Working alongside other members of the VAMFT board and the general membership, we are helping people who need the services of LMFTs by:  enhancing the profile of marriage and family therapy, improving the accessibility and quality of advanced professional education, and engaging in appropriate advocacy.

It is my hope that people seeking services come to LMFTs with a sense of confidence in their therapist.  The scope of my professional experience is indicative of the types of concerns LMFTs can address.

My experience includes working in:  community mental health, inpatient psychiatry, substance abuse treatment services, child and family services, disability services, public schools, correctional services, forensic services, residential services, not-for-profit agencies, and employee assistance services.  Some of the areas with which I have been clinically involved include child protection, domestic violence, sexual abuse, human resource management, civil commitment, court assessment and expert testimony, personality assessment, diagnostic reporting, and risk assessment.  I provide individual, couple, family, and group psychotherapy.  As an ASSECT Certified Sex Therapist, I also work in the areas of sexual identity, orientation, dysfunction, paraphilia, abuse survivorship, and harassment.  I have clinically supervised practicing LMFTs and graduate students.  I have also clinically supervised practitioners and students from other disciplines.  I have taught graduate courses at many universities and currently serve as adjunct faculty at George Mason University, and affiliate faculty at Union Institute and University.

Many LMFTs have a rich clinical experience and are prepared to help individuals, couples and families who have the need for quality professional services.

Back to VAMFT Board Members Page

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