Fifth Rural Behavioral Health Practice Conference Focused on Rural Issues

Behavioral health professionals from several states joined MPA’s Rural and Greater MN Division (RGMD) October 11 for their fifth annual conference, focusing on “Advances in Rural Behavioral Health.”  Evaluations showed high satisfaction with conference content and format.  Dr. Willie Garrett, RGMD Chair and Conference Co-Chair, commented, “Rural professionals were offered an inexpensive ‘blueprint’ for success, in preparation for the new era of rural psychology practice and healthcare reform.”

Partnering with the Illinois Psychological Association was a successful experiment this year.  IPA contributed three committee members and pulled in nearly 30% of the participants.  Other partners included the Psychology Discipline at UM-Morris, the Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education, and APA’s Committee on Rural Health.

Another experiment keynoted international healthcare policy expert Ron Manderscheid by webcast from Washington, D.C. to speak on healthcare reform in rural America.  Presenters also learned about (a) the Rural Illness Management Recovery model from Paul Heyl, MA, LSW; (b) psychotherapy with rural African Americans from Dr. Willie Garrett; and (c) therapeutic techniques for rural older adults from Dr. Daniel Burow.


Willie Garrett presents on working with rural African American clients.


Daniel Burow reads a poem during his presentation.

More than half of the participants joined the conference via webcast and about 70% of the “webbies” congregated at group webcast sites in St. Cloud and the two sites in Illinois.  Webcast Coordinator Kay Slama was challenged this year by an electrical storm that caused a power outage at the in-person Morris site, but contact was re-established within four minutes.  The same storm later caused the same problem for a few minutes at the St. Cloud group webcast site, coordinated by conference Co-Chair Dr. Scott Palmer.   He noted, “A quick call helped us reconnect within a few minutes. Participants who gathered in St. Cloud appreciated the opportunity to learn great information while staying close to home.”


Kay Slama monitors the conference webcast for participant questions.

The third experiment enabled poster presenters from a VA site in Illinois to present their poster by sending a copy to Morris and a webcast posting to other participants.  When the federal government shut-down prevented the poster presenters from attending in-person, Dr. Kelly Moore answered questions by cell phone.  Participants were also able to view exhibits, both in person at Morris and posted on the webcast site.

The Rural Conference Committee is beginning the planning process for next year’s conference, set for October 24, 2014 (Save the Date!).  If you would like to help with this conference, please contact Dr. Willie Garrett at [email protected] or Dr. Scott Palmer at [email protected].

Katherine (Kay) Slama, Ph.D., L.P., has worked in clinical services, teaching, management, consulting, and research.  She holds a masters in administration and an adjunct position at the University of Minnesota Medical School.  She has published articles in rural behavioral health and is involved in dissemination/evaluation work for the online rural stress workshops. Slama has served on the Governing Council of the Minnesota Psychological Association and as its Secretary, as well as President of the Minnesota Rural Health Association, Minnesota’s APA Rural Health Coordinator, chair of MPA’s Rural and Greater Minnesota Division, and chair of its Rural Behavioral Health Practice Conference.  

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Diversity Statement

The Minnesota Psychological Association actively encourages the participation of all psychologists regardless of age, creed, race, ethnic background, gender, socio-economic status, region of residence, physical or mental status, political beliefs, religious or spiritual affiliation, and sexual or affectional orientation.Although we are an organization of individuals from diverse cultures and backgrounds, the Minnesota Psychological Association also recognizes our core unifying identities as Psychologists who practice in America. We also recognize that we may hold unintentional attitudes and beliefs that influence our perceptions of and interactions with others. Within this context of unity and self-exploration, we are committed to increasing our sensitivity to all aspects of diversity as well as our knowledge and appreciation of the unique qualities of different cultures and backgrounds.We aspire to becoming alert to aspects of diversity, previously unseen or unacknowledged in our culture. In this spirit, we are committed to collaborating with multicultural groups to combat racism and other forms of prejudice as we seek to promote diversity in our society. To this end, we are dedicated to increasing our multicultural competencies and effectiveness as educators, researchers, administrators, policy makers, and practitioners.