Working With Marginalized Communities: Why Social Justice Matters for MFTs

Panel Q&A

Thursday, March 4, 2021 9:30 a.m.

In this panel conversation, both practicing MFTs and individuals working with Texas-based community or government organizations will share their perspectives on how therapy can influence the lives of marginalized individuals. The speakers will share how community-based resources can be used to help you serve your clients, how therapists can help uplift the voices of clients from diverse backgrounds, and why issues of social justice should be considered in the marriage and family therapy community. Audience Q&A time will be included.


Denise Hernandez, Assistant District Attorney Travis County and Founder, Chigona Fest

Stephanie Drenka, Dallas Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation 

Heather Lambert, Clearhope Counseling & Wellness Center

Carolina Utz, One Safe Place

About the Panelists
Denise Hernandez is a lawyer and social entrepreneur. She currently serves as the Deputy Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at the Travis County Attorney’s Office. Denise also manages Hustle for the Cause, a social impact consulting firm. Denise has been nationally recognized for her community work, honored as an Anne McAfee Leader of Cultural Change, and named a young Latinx distinguished leader in 2020. Denise is driven by her lived experience to create change.


Stephanie Drenka is a Korean adoptee from Dallas. She is the Communications Director for Dallas, Truth, RacialHealing & Transformation. She received her B.A. in Communication from DePaul University, with minors in Asian American and Women’s Studies. Stephanie’s writing and photography have been featured in Washington Post, Huffington Post, and USA Today. She is the founder of VISIBLE Magazine, an online publication amplifying stories from underrepresented communities, and Public Voices Fellow of The OpEd Project. 


Heather Lambert is the founder of Clearhope Counseling Center, NP; Clearhope Counseling & Wellness Center, PC; and Clearhope Training, NP. Heather has 17 years of experience as an educator. She is a certified teacher and school counselor, and a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC). In January 2020, Heather was appointed to the HB 906 Mental Health Task Force to study and evaluate mental health services that are funded by the state of Texas in an effort to support and improve mental wellness in public schools across the state of Texas. Heather's vision is to help you find your wheelhouse, take the steps necessary to function as an expert and to help support you in your personal mission to change your world!  


Carolina Utz was a school counselor before becoming a licensed marriage and family therapist and an EMDR trained clinician. Her work has focused on raising awareness about modern-time oppression. She has extensively spoken about social justice, human trafficking and intimate partner violence among other topics, both internationally and throughout her local community. Carolina believes that therapy is a powerful tool that can be used to bring hope, healing and restoration to the most vulnerable members of the community. She currently works at One Safe Place, a Family Justice Center in Fort Worth, TX.



Solution Focused Therapy: An Approach As Lasting As a Diamond
(Followed by a Live Modeling Session)

Elliott Connie, LMFT

Friday, March 5, 2021, 8:30 a.m.

Though the Solution Focused Approach has been around for several decades, for so many in this field, this approach remains mysterious and hard to apply. There are several reasons for this, including the different styles of which this approach is practiced, taught, and explained. Over the past several years, I have been working with colleagues to address this confusion in an attempt to simplify this approach for professionals interested in this approach. In that time we have been able to focus on what each style of applying this approach has in common and what practices need to be mastered by the clinician. That's what this lecture is about, focusing on what you need to master to be effective with this approach and making this way of working simple (but not easy) for you to apply. To accomplish this, I'll be sharing stories from my practice as well as video examples of this approach in action.

About Elliott Connie

Elliott Connie, MA, LPC is a psychotherapist that practices in Southlake, Texas. He has worked with thousands of individuals, couples, and families applying the solution focused approach to help them move their lives from the current problems towards their desired futures. He is the founder and Director of The Solution Focused Universe, an online learning community that also conducts training to help professionals master the Solution Focused Approach in their work. He is recognized around the world speaking at national and international conferences and events in such places as throughout the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, South Africa, Russia, Switzerland, England, Poland, Sweden, Denmark, Scotland, Holland, Canada, and Asia training practitioners to apply solution focused questions and techniques in their work. He has authored or co-authored 4 books including "The Art of Solution Focused Therapy", "Solution Building in Couples Therapy", "The Solution Focused Marriage", and "Solution-Focused Brief Therapy with Clients Managing Trauma".


Cultivating a Culture of Self-Care: Building Connection in Wellness

Tequilla Hill, LMFT, Ph.D.

Saturday, March 6, 2021, 10:45 a.m.

In light of the joys and complexities of doing emotional labor, self-care becomes an important aspect of a therapist’s personal and professional growth. Although therapists are trained to hold space for others, we often do not create the space to consistently care for ourselves. Self-care is defined as the integration of a therapist's emotional, social, physical, and spiritual health. Overall, the need for self-care is of paramount importance because of the inherent stress that is involved in working with people. In this keynote, Dr. Hill will facilitate an experiential exploration of the following with attendees: explore the ethics of self-care, explore the intersection of the Self of the therapist, Societal Emotional Process and self-care needs; engage in Self of the Therapist focused exercises to enhance awareness about current self-care practices (strengths and growing edges); honor the current and emergent shared narrative of self-care as a part of daily life, and cultivate a practical self-care plan for wellness.

About Dr. Hill

Dr. Tequilla Hill is Licensed Psychotherapist, Registered Yoga Teacher (E-RYT500), Certified Reiki Master and AAMFT Approved Supervisor. She is the Chief Clinical Officer of Hill & Psychotherapeutic Services, a boutique private practice in Atlanta, GA. Dr. Hill incorporates systemic psychotherapy and contemporary mind-body practices into all facets of her professional work. Dr. Hill also enjoys facilitating both yoga and wellness centered experiences for groups and organizations.