I just returned from the South Carolina ATSA professional training seminar, held in Charleston SC.
The day was well spent listening to researchers and clinicians discuss best practice approaches for working with those who sexually harm. The forum consisted of a panel of health care professionals: Elizabeth Letourneau, PhD, a well-respected researcher and President of ATSA; Gregg Dwyer, MD, a prominent physician and researcher from the Medical University of SC; William Burke, PhD, who is contributing groundbreaking technology to the national research and practice standards for psychometric testing; and practitioners representing outpatient and inpatient treatment standards, Melanie Hendricks, LISW, and myself.
I was thoroughly impressed at the overall depth of knowledge from all the presenters and the audience. When those doing research and those doing practice listen, respect and pay attention to what the other is saying, we get more robust interventions which have an evidence base. When practitioners keep up with what is working or shows promise and get beyond approaches they always thought were effective, but simply don’t have the evidence to show their effectiveness, everyone wins; the client, the family, the community and society as a whole. It is clear our field is evolving towards a strength-based, ecological approach, with a focus not only on the offense-specific aspects of treatment, but on general competency development as well.
I am proud to have represented New Hope Treatment Centers at this conference and excited to have had the opportunity to share our approach to this population. I am also pleased to see how well our approach aligns with the experts in the field.
Sam E. Phifer, LCSW, Executive Director of New Hope Carolinas