By David T. Seamons, Ph.D., AMCAP President
On behalf of the Board of Directors at AMCAP, I hope you and yours had a meaningful Christmas and are looking forward to an exciting and prosperous New Year. As service providers, we begin the New Year with the challenge of providing counseling services to an ever-growing population experiencing emotional trauma and stress. Whether economic, physical health, spiritual, relationship, or personal, the array of problems coming into our offices continues to grow in numbers and complexity.
As I visit with many of you, treating problems associated with depression and anxiety appear to be among the most common. People who struggle with these disorders have become isolated, withdrawn, and detached. Some no longer can function, and others live a life of quiet desperation. Many do not know where to turn for help, or even if there is help for what they are experiencing. The need for well-grounded and trained service providers who can give hope to the hopeless and help to those who feel helpless has never been greater. What an opportunity this provides for us.
In a recent article in the Deseret News (December 11, 2016), Patricia Jones, CEO of the Women’s Leadership Institute, addressed the issue of mental health on college campuses. In her presentation to the Utah Board of Regents, she reported some alarming statistics with regards to Utah’s college students. Some of those statistics include:
- “Utah’s college students fall above the national average on depression, thoughts of suicide and serious mental illness.”
- “During the past academic year, approximately 45 percent of college students felt so depressed that it was difficult to function.”
- “Utah’s child suicide rate is more than doubled the national rate and climbing. Suicide is the leading cause of death among 10-17 year olds in Utah.”
To meet these and the many other demands placed on service providers, it requires the very best of us. Let me share with you a few things that have been helpful for me in preparing for this expectation.
- Professional Development – When I graduated and received my license, I chose to be bothered by the requirement for 40 hours of CEU credits every two years. I thought I was past the need for such study. Over the years, I have come to realize that my professional education had just begun, and that there was a wealth of knowledge available that would better prepare me for my chosen profession. When I am confronted with a complex and unusual case, I found myself driven back into the books. I have come to realize that learning is an ongoing process, and I have developed a thrust for continued knowledge.
Starting in February of this year, on the AMCAP Web page, under the heading “Resources,” we have added two new areas to assist you in your continued learning: (1) Professional Resource Library, a list of common disorders with a hyperlink to articles that have been found helpful in treatment & (2) Spiritual Reference Library, a list of talks given by General Authorities on various gospel subjects that can be used as reference material for patients desirous of such. It is our hope that you will sent us articles for the Library and Directory that you have found helpful, thus expanding these resources for all to use.
The Church has become acutely aware of emotional problems experienced by many of its members. It is unusual to read an Ensign without coming across an article on mental / marital health.
I would also like to draw your attention to our Annual AMCAP Convention, to be held September 28-29, 2017. During these two days we gather together to share information and to be instructed professionally and spiritually. It is typically possible to receive up to 12 CEU’s if all sessions are attended, but the exact number of CEU’s offered will not be available until the convention gets closer.
In addition, we are currently working on Online CEU programs. AMCAP is dedicated to providing quality educational opportunities for professional growth.
- Professional Support System – Many of you work in clinics, hospitals, or associations. This provides an invaluable system of support with other colleagues as you discuss and evaluate difficult cases. Others, like myself, practice independently and have to reach out to others for consultation and support. We are aware of the need for professional consultation, and have provided a blog on our AMCAP Web page. We have also scheduled informal opportunities for connections at our Annual AMCAP Convention.
- Self-Care – Personal, Family, Spiritual
- Personal – I continue to find it difficult to provide counseling if I do not take care of myself personally. This includes a consistent routine of good sleeping and eating habits, regular exercise, and alternative activities do dissipate stress.
- Family – I constantly remind myself that I am a husband and father first, and a service provider second. When things are well at home, my mind is clear and I can focus on the problems presented by the client without having my own problems cloud my judgements. On one occasion, the Prophet Joseph Smith had a disagreement with Emma when he came downstairs from translating for lunch. The issue at hand was not resolved and when he attempted to continue his translation, he could not until he resolved the issue with his wife Emma. I feel very much the same.
- Spiritual – Even though our employment may prohibit references to religious beliefs and practices, the longer I am in this profession, the more I realize that all things are spiritual. The Lord is mindful of the needs of His children and will provide insights and promptings to those who have listening ears. I have found that my spiritual preparation is as important as is my professional preparation. At AMCAP, we add to our spiritual reparation by inviting a General Authority to speak to us each year at our Convention.
I am sure there are other areas you have found helpful. At the beginning of this new year I will be assessing my personal and professional skills. I hope to expand and alter, where necessary, in preparation for another year of service.
I am grateful you have chosen to be a member of AMCAP, and look forward to our working, serving and learning together this coming year. There is much to do, but many hands help our work.
David T. Seamons, Ph.D.