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May 10-13, 2017
Denver, CO

November 15-18, 2017
Washington, DC

Reflections on the Atlanta Conference

Karen Mabie

by Karen Mabie, M.Ed., NCSP, CEP, IECA Professional Member (Illinois)

As I return home from another IECA conference, I am exhausted, overwhelmed, grateful, and revitalized at the same time. I have been going to IECA conferences for a few years now; I always have to force myself out of my office and away from obligations, knowing I will learn something new and needing to connect with my colleagues and friends. This time I wanted to share my experiences with those who also have to make the sacrifices to leave their busy offices.

I flew in late Monday to be ready to tour three local programs on Tuesday. On my tour, in addition to learning about the programs, we also learned about a new medication being used to help addicts from an experienced addictionologist. I also met some new independent educational consultants (IECs) and reconnected with old friends.

Then I attended the pre-conference workshop where I continued my education and encouragement to market my business. That was just the beginning of the learning. I attended some great workshops while at the Atlanta conference: how to protect my business and clients in case of my illness or worse; how to care for the unique needs of women in recovery; parasuicidal and suicidal behavior; applying attachment theory to work with non-adopted kids; and long term residential placement for clients with complicated needs. I learned so much from each professional and I had regrets because it was always a difficult choice to make about which breakout to attend. I ended the conference at the Master Class, learning about gender differences in the brain from JoAnn Deak.

I was amazed at the intellect and support of my colleagues at the roundtables and therapeutic community discussions; in mine we discussed our questions and concerns about low processing speed. At our table we had a clinical psychologist, neuropsychologist, OT, psychiatrist, and multiple other professionals; the discussion was wide-ranging and informative.

I found some new programs at the Information Swap and worked to find a place for a current client. Then there was all the time I spent connecting with new friends and old. The community of IECs and programs has become such a support for me as I strive to serve my families in the most professional way I can. I treasure the conversations, time, and hugs.

Next spring we meet in Chicago, my hometown. I hope to see you all then!

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