By Bridgett Freeman
Mental health professionals from across the state are participating in the annual Kentucky Counseling Association (KCA) conference Nov. 8-10. Dale Hamilton, a counselor with Christian Appalachian Project’s (CAP) Family Life Counseling Services (FLCS), is KCA president.
Hamilton, as president, serves as the organizer for the event. This year’s theme is KCA EDGE: Empowerment, Development, Growth and Education, which Hamilton said are traits that he found at the very first KCA conference he attended. He hopes to highlight these attributes for the conference's nearly 500 attendees.
“I think the theme EDGE encapsulates essential qualities for mental health professionals,” Hamilton said. “Development, growth, and education are connected in the expansion of the services the counselor provides. But attending the conference and networking with other professionals provides a sense of connectedness, and encouragement that provides a sense of being able and more confident in providing services.”
The conference will offer extensive trainings, build and foster professional relationships, and offer new ideas and strategies for mental health care. In Appalachia, there is a great need for mental health services and professionals. Conferences like this help equip counselors from the region with resources that can help people in need of mental health services.
“It is a great opportunity to make connections with other professionals throughout the state,” Hamilton said. “This provides networks for referrals, consultation and supervision. Which ultimately benefits the clients of Eastern Kentucky.”
Conference attendees will hear from keynote speakers Dr. Gary Patton, a professor at the University of the Cumberlands; Dr. LaTonya Summers, a mental health counselor, author, assistant professor in mental health counseling at Jacksonville University, Florida, and the founder of Black Mental Health Symposium; and Ed Reed.
Among the presenters during the conference are CAP counselors Mattie Craft and Michaela Fisher, who will present on mindfulness practices, and Chris Griffith, FLCS manager, who will present twice on the topics of the impact of consultation and intimate partner violence.
“I am very proud to have so many CAP counselors presenting at KCA to represent the care and expertise our organization offers each of our participants,” Hamilton said.
KCA is a statewide organization for professional clinical and school counselors. The association builds and fosters relationships throughout the state to provide a sense of mentoring between professionals. KCA is the state branch of the American Counseling Association.