Past Conferences

Conference 2016

The 2016 Conference was once again a joint effort with The Association of Family and Conciliation Courts-Alberta Chapter (AFCC-AB Chapter): Complex Family Systems: Elevating Safety and Managing Risk April 6, 7 & 8 in Ross Glen Hall at Mount Royal University (MRU).

On the evening of Wednesday, April 6, 2016, we hosted a free public seminar with presenter Andrea LaRochelle, "When parents can’t be friends - communication strategies for parents who can’t get along". This was VERY well attended with 67 people - more than we’ve ever seen for one of our public events! For more info:

The main conference began on Thursday, April 7, 2016, with the AFCC-AB Chapter Annual General Meeting and then Jon Graham from Australia presented "Differentiating High Conflict from Domestic Violence. Screening and Risk Assessment in high conflict post separation cases".

We hosted a Wine & Cheese Reception for all the conference attendees and the John Haynes Award for 2016 was presented to the Board and Committee members of the 1995 Board who instituted the designation "Registered Family Mediator (RFM)". See the John Haynes Award page of our site for more details and photos.

The learning continued on Friday, April 8, 2016. The day began with AFMS Annual General Meeting and then attendees were able to choose their sessions for the day. Sharon Smith, Brandi L. Smith and James P. Bateman (Edmonton) presented "Understanding and Applying Family Systems Theory and Structural Family Therapy" and Jon Graham was back with "Safety Planning in High Conflict and Domestic Violence Cases". At lunchtime on Friday, our conference sponsor, the Palix Foundation was represented by Dr. Jeff Chang who spoke about his current research on the New Ways for Families program.

Summary of Presenters

Jon Graham is a nationally accredited mediator, a registered Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner (FDR) and is a clinical supervisor of mediation practice. He has developed an extensive and respected practice in the fields of family law mediation and workplace conflicts and is a highly respected lecturer in mediation practice, and a trainer of mediators. He has also worked with the Australian Institute for Relationship Studies in the writing and teaching of the Vocational Graduate Diploma in Family Dispute Resolution. Jon also worked with the Australian Institute for Social Relations in the presentation of the reaccreditation training for Family Dispute Resolution as well as having served on numerous ADR committees with the Family Court and Family Support sector. He has worked with Government, Commercial and Not-for-Profit organisations in the establishment and development of dispute resolution programs and in the resolution of entrenched conflicts and worked with the South Eastern Sydney Area Health in the establishment of a program for internal mediation of staff disputes. Previously a Regional Manager for Relationships Australia NSW, Jon brings a practical understanding of team leadership and achieving client benefits to his management coaching and conflict resolution practice.

Ms. Sharon M. Smith, Registered Psychologist with Creating Solutions Inc. has over 20 years of background in family systems theory. Ms. Smith developed and delivered the first contracted Diversion Intervention Program for Child and Family Services. The Diversion Program was a program to prevent high risk families from open Child and Family Service Authority status. This program was based on the successful home-based family preservation programs Ms. Smith had designed and clinically supervised the delivery of for ten years under contract with Child and Family Service Authority through her work at Creating Solutions. Ms. Smith taught family systems therapy for years for City University’s Masters in Counselling Program. Currently Ms. Smith works with family’s post-divorce providing Practice Note 7 high conflict interventions, is trained in parent coordination services, and is a registered collaborative family law professional.

Ms. Brandi L. Smith, Registered Psychologist with Creating Solutions Inc. and along with her general practice is trained in play and creative therapy modalities for young children. Ms. Smith gained her proficiency through working in Child and Family Services Crisis Intervention and Family Intervention Programs developing safe therapeutic space for children with significant trauma concerns and resistance. Ms. Smith currently works with children of families who are separated, in high conflict post-divorce interventions, and is a registered collaborative family law professional.

Mr. James P. Bateman, Registered Psychologist with Carter Haave Bateman Vandersteen and Vroon. He has been involved in working with children and families for 26 years and has been a Registered Psychologist for eighteen years. Mr. Bateman has provided counselling and assessment services for Alberta Children’s Services, The Solicitor General, for youth and families through a Residential Treatment Facility near Edmonton and individuals and families in the community. Mr. Bateman has experience conducting Practice Note 8 Assessments, and experience working with high conflict families, including post-divorce counselling, Voice of the Child and triage Interventions, and conducting Practice Note 7 Interventions. Mr. Bateman is a member of AFCC, and has co-presented at conferences in Vancouver and Indianapolis. Mr. Bateman joined the IACP in 2014 and has since begun training and providing services in the area of collaborative family law.

Dr. Jeff Chang has practiced as a psychologist and family therapist for over thirty years, and for most of that time, has worked with families in high conflict as a bilateral evaluator, parenting coordinator, and therapist. In 2007, Jeff turned to the dark side and became a professor with Athabasca University. Although he tried to ignore high conflict divorce work in his research and publication agenda, he just couldn't stay away. After reconnecting with members of the family law bar in Medicine Hat, Jeff worked with Medicine Hat Family Services to obtain a grant from the Palix Foundation to conduct a controlled study of the efficacy of New Ways for Families. In addition to his work as an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Health Disciplines at Athabasca University, Jeff continues to do private practice and work as a part-time clinical supervisor at Calgary Family Therapy Centre. He is a Registered Psychologist and a Clinical Fellow and Approved Supervisor in the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy.