POWELL, Wyo. — Mental health professionals from all disciplines and leaders from the local community will gather in Cody, Wyo., on Oct. 9–11 for the annual fall conference of the Wyoming Psychological Association (WPA).

Titled “Exploring Issues in Multicultural Diversity,” the conference features keynote speakers Dr. Vetta Sanders Thompson and Dr. Satsuki Ina.

Thompson, licensed clinical psychologist and leading researcher, teaches at the George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis. She specializes in racial identity, race and ethnicity in health communications, and factors of health disparities.

Satsuki Ina
Satsuki Ina

Ina is a psychotherapist, professor emeritus at California State University, Sacramento, and filmmaker. Born at the Tule Lake confinement camp during World War II, she specializes in collective historical trauma.

“The WPA is pleased to present these outstanding speakers at its Fall Conference. We’re looking forward to a wide participation from psychologists and other mental health professionals from across Wyoming and neighboring states,” said Larry Biggio, WPA executive director.

The conference will begin with the judging of University of Wyoming student research projects, followed by a screening of “Children of the Camps,” a film by Ina. This documentary captures the stories of six Japanese Americans who participated in a three-day workshop facilitated by Ina and spoke about their experiences and how incarceration continues to affect their adult lives.

Attendees can participate in a Multicultural Diversity Workshop with Thompson. She will address the impact of the therapist’s background on the relationship and treatment of clients, strategies for addressing differences in therapy, and measuring the effectiveness of treatment when the therapist and client have different backgrounds.

In addition, attendees will tour the Heart Mountain Interpretive Center, which is located in between Cody and Powell on Highway 14a. Following the tour, Ina will provide a lecture, “Collective Historical Trauma: The World War II Japanese American Experience,” addressing the history and cultural issues of incarceration and trauma within the Japanese American community.

“Heart Mountain thanks the WPA for choosing its Interpretive Center as a site to host their conference on multicultural issues. These prominent psychologists’ experiences in treatment and research with ethnic minority populations reinforce the need for our health care system to be tailored to the critical issues and needs of minorities,” said Shirley Ann Higuchi, head of legal and regulatory affairs at the American Psychological Association and chair of the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation, which manages the Heart Mountain National Historic Site.

Higuchi will give an update on her office at APA regarding current trends and healthcare reform.

The conference will conclude with presentations by James Hruby and Dr. Victor Ashear.

Hruby will explain the Wyoming Social Security Disability program and the activities of professionals that can support the Social Security disability determination process. His presentation will include information on the benefits available if found eligible (e.g. Medicare, Medicaid, financial, and programs to return to work), the process of evaluating disability, and the consultative exams that are completed by medical professionals in Wyoming.

Ashear has had a 34-year career at the Department of Veterans Affairs specializing in helping people with serious and persistent mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and recurrent major depression. During his tenure, Ashear developed a workbook for use with this population that has its foundation in evidenced-based therapies such as CBT, ACT, illness awareness and management, and cognitive enhancement therapy. The workbook will be published in the fall of 2015.

Ashear is currently in private practice in Sheridan, Wyo.

The WPA is a not-for-profit professional association of psychologists and other mental health professionals practicing in Wyoming. It supports the advancement of psychology as a science, as a profession, and as a means of promoting human welfare; and recognizes the need for a mutually supportive strong community of mental health professionals who work together to enhance the quality of life for all people living in Wyoming.

The Heart Mountain World War II Japanese American Confinement Site features an Interpretive Center that is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the summer and Wednesday through Saturday in the winter. For more information, call (307) 754-8000 or visit www.HeartMountain.org.

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