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

Click Here to Register

Fort Magruder Hotel & Conference Center,

6945 Pocahontas Trail, Williamsburg, Virginia 23185

6 Contact Hours

(Certificate will be provided)

Systemically oriented therapists face multiple challenges in the contemporary context. With the changing dynamics in our society, the therapist is faced with increasing complexity of practice, having to navigate through: co-morbid clinical presentations, systemic formulations vs individually based diagnoses, unique familial and relationship structures, diverse cultures, law and regulation, health insurer requirements, and professional codes of ethics. This conference will address some of the questions below, as well as others. Three experts will offer their perspectives and opportunities for dialogue: Dr Michael Gillette, PhD – ethics (3 hours); Ms Jaime Hoyle, JD – law and regulation (1 ½ hours); Dr Erika Grafsky, PhD – affirmative practice with LGBTQ+ clients (1 ½ hours).

  • Who is the client? Is it the individual or the relational unit?
  • How does the therapist decide who is the identified patient? How does this affect the identified patient and the system?
  • How does the therapist reconcile labelling a symptom bearer when the dysfunction is theoretically/philosophically the system being  ‘treated’. And, what about when the dysfunction is the eco-system?
  • What sort of clinical records should be maintained, and what should or should not be reflected in them?
  • What are the implications when one party in the relational unit enters into a legal conflict with another party in the relational unit?
  • What are the implications of the therapist working with clients from diverse cultures?
  • What are the implications of the therapist not having traversed the developmental life experiences that clients have?
  • How does one create an affirmative and inclusive therapy practice for LGBTQ+ clients?
  • What are some of the ethical decisions therapists face around treating LGBTQ+ clients?
  • How does one develop and maintain competencies needed to practice marriage and family therapy?
  • What does the therapist do when their relationships are troubled? How does this affect working with couples and families?
  • What is the therapist’s framework for ethical decision-making?
  • What are therapist errors that frequently lead to ethical complaints?
  • How does the Board of Counseling balance protection of the public with rehabilitation of the practitioner?

About the Presenters
Michael Gillette, PhD, is a nationally recognized ethicist who has presented numerous keynotes and workshops on many applied ethics topics. He contracts with a wide range
of healthcare organizations and other agencies to provide ethics case consultations and policy work. Dr Gillette graduated magna cum laude from Brandeis University and he earned his master’s and PhD in philosophy at Brown University, where he wrote a doctoral dissertation on Paternalism in Psychiatric Medicine. He has taught at colleges and universities, published articles in the field of clinical ethics and received several teaching awards. Elected three times to the City Council in Lynchburg, Virginia, he also served two terms as Mayor. Dr Gillette is currently President of Bioethical Services of Virginia, Inc.

Jaime Hoyle, JD, is a graduate of the University of Richmond School of Law. She is the Executive Director of the Virginia Boards of Counseling, Psychology, and Social Work. She has served as Chief Deputy Director of the Virginia Department of Health Professions, and Senior Staff Attorney and Policy Analyst with the Joint Commission on Health Care.

Erika Grafsky, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Human Development and faculty affiliate of Women and Gender Studies and Health Sciences at Virginia Tech. Dr. Grafsky’s  scholarship is focused on the health and wellbeing of sexual and gender minority  individuals and their families and affirmative therapy practices. She uses qualitative and mixed methods designs to understand the decision-making process around disclosing one’s sexual orientation to family, as well as experiences following disclosure. She also studies the experiences of rural LGBT families. Dr. Grafsky has authored over 25 professional publications and is a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy and the Journal of Family Psychology.

Costs cover workshop, handouts, certificate of attendance, continental breakfast, morning and afternoon coffee. Lunch is on your own and you can choose from a variety of local restaurants.
Contact Information

For questions about the conference please contact Shardae Washington 302-593-3487 or

The Fort Magruder Hotel & Conference Center is located at
6945 Pocahontas Trail, Williamsburg, Virginia.
The registration desk opens at 8:30 a.m. The workshop begins at 9:00 a.m. and concludes at 4:30 p.m. Attendees must sign in. Certificates are awarded only on conference  completion at 4:30 p.m.
Free parking onsite. A discounted rate of $129 per night is available. Phone the hotel directly at (757) 220-2250. Make reservations prior to 4/6/17 to receive this rate.
Registration Submission
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.

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

Or, you may click here to register online through PayPal.

Cancellation & Refund Policy
Any cancellation of attendance must be made in writing and received by VAMFT no later than 4/6/17; 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.