Conference brings greater learning opportunities

The Graduate Counseling program at John Brown University will host its first-ever Family Therapy Conference Friday.

The conference is designed to bring in professionals as well as students in training programs to provide continuing education in the different areas of counseling education, John Carmack, chair of the University’s division of Graduate Counseling, said.

“JBU’s Graduate Counseling program is the largest Master (of Arts) level training program in the state of Arkansas, with over 230 students currently enrolled in either our M.S. in marriage and family therapy, clinical mental health counseling or school counseling majors,” Carmack said.

These three majors pave the way for students to meet the requirements to become licensed by the state as marriage and family therapists, licensed professional counselors or licensed school counselors, respectively.

Students can add a specialty in play therapy as an emphasis to any degree, as well as go through a yearlong program that ensures certification as a registered play therapist, Carmack said.

Nick Cornett and Chuck Romig are faculty members in the graduate program and are the specialists in the play therapy program.

A 3,000 square-foot building was built last year to be used for the play therapy program. Part of the conference will feature a tour of the new facility, Carmack said.

Carmack, Cornett and Romig are the speakers for the event.

Carmack will be speaking on the American Counseling Association’s 2014 Code of Ethics publication, as all licenses are required to follow this code. Romig will join Carmack in speaking on ethics, but will focus more on “values in counseling profession,” Carmack said.

Cornett will speak on family play therapy in his talk “Family Play as an X-Ray: Revealing and Healing Broken Bonds.”

“Working with young children and their families together in therapy is a passion of mine,” Cornett said. “Typically, when families with children experience issues that might lead them to seek assistance through counseling, most practitioners will work with just the children or just the adults.”

Families often focus on only one member needing therapy, Cornett said. If whole families are to be involved in the therapy of an individual or group, play therapy will be more effective than talk-based, he said.

Cornett’s presentation will present the research of the benefits of using family-centered treatment and practical ways counselors can use effective play therapy in these situations.

An expected 175 participants from Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri will be at the conference, which will be held at the Simmons Great Hall on the University campus.