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While mental health practitioners routinely assess for trauma, diagnosis (as an enterprise) focuses on symptoms and behaviors. In this workshop, Dr. April Harris-Britt will emphasize the importance of stepping back and considering the wide-ranging systemic effects that can manifest as individual-level pathology. Participants will be encouraged to consider and pursue lines of inquiry about family, community, and society-level stressors that may underlie one’s presentation. Dr. Harris-Britt will provide guidance on how to incorporate systems assessment into treatment planning, and approach symptom and behavior change within a context that validates people’s full lived experience. This is particularly salient given the multilayered system stress brought on by the global pandemic, and the systemic disparities it heightens.


April Harris-Britt, PhD: received her doctorate in Clinical Psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2003.  She operates AHB Center for Behavioral Health and Wellness, a multidisciplinary mental health agency and AHB Forensics and Consulting, both in Durham, NC. Some of her areas of specialty include parenting, forensic evaluations, high-conflict custody matters, multicultural issues and training, and the promotion of health and wellness.  Dr. Harris-Britt holds faculty appointments at UNC-Chapel Hill and Fielding Graduate University. She has published on topics of interpersonal violence, racism, and mood disorders. Her work has been featured on CNN, Newsweek, local television and radio news programs, and in the New York Times Bestseller, NurtureShock. She holds several Board and Committee positions for the NC Psychological Association (NCPA) and the American Psychological Association (APA).


 Learning objectives: At the conclusion of this workshop, participants will be able to:

  1. Explain at least 3 reasons that thorough assessment and ethical treatment planning needs to include a system-level focus.
  2. Identify and describe at least 2 systems-level strategies to use when working with clients.
  3. Integrate at least 1 systems-level approach into clinical assessment and treatment planning.



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