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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.

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

Understanding the Benefits of Marriage and Family Therapy

How do I register my supervision?

Applicants for licensure as a Marriage and Family Therapist in Virginia register their supervision on the Application Packet for Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) by Examination or Application Packet for Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) by Endorsement.  Both applications can be found in the Marriage and Family Therapist section on the Forms & Applications page of the BOC here.


How do I become an approved supervisor?

For complete information on becoming an AAMFT Approved Supervisor, please click here.  Becoming an AAMFT Approved Supervisor meets all of the requirements to be approved by the BOC to provide MFT supervision to MFT Residents in Virginia.

In order to become a BOC approved supervisor you must:

“1. Hold an active, unrestricted license as a marriage and family     therapist or professional counselor in the jurisdiction where the supervision is being provided;

  1. Document two years post-licensure marriage and family therapy experience; and
  2. Have received professional training in supervision, consisting of three credit hours or 4.0 quarter hours in graduate-level coursework in supervision or at least 20 hours of continuing education in supervision offered by a provider approved under 18VAC115-50-96.”

The application form to become a BOC approved supervisor is available here.



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