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Pennsylvania Dissemination Activities 2018

Gilliam Grannum, Pennsylvania

Could you please tell us a little about you and your background?
My name is Gillian Grannum and I am a clinical psychologist from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. I am newly licensed in Pennsylvania and am pursuing my license in California. I completed my masters and doctoral degrees at Fuller Graduate School of Psychology in Pasadena, CA. Currently, I am living in a small town in east-central Pennsylvania and am providing individual and group therapy within a large behavioral health organization.

How did you become interested in CBS?
I was introduced to contextual behavioral science by way of instruction in acceptance and commitment therapy in my graduate program. I was drawn to ACT because it honors the person’s experience by recognizing the universality of these human experiences but remaining focused on how a particular individual can navigate the inevitable emotional pain of life. As one who has studied theology and is interested in spirituality, I also really appreciated how ACT draws from wisdom and spiritual traditions in incorporating forgiveness, acceptance, peace, openness, equality, and mindfulness. I was able to incorporate ACT in my clinical work during my internship and postdoctoral residency, and was fortunate to have a postdoctoral supervisor whose primary treatment approach was acceptance and commitment therapy. However, aside from ACT, I had relatively little exposure to contextual behavioral science more broadly until the ACBS World Conference.

Could you tell us about your research and application interests?
Contextual behavioral science principles have been central tenets in my clinical work. One area of growing specialty is with clients from racial/ethnic, gender, and sexual minority backgrounds, and I am increasingly concerned about the current political climate within the U.S. and the vulnerability of those from disempowered communities. I do believe that ACT’s principles of respect of one’s experience, concern about one’s values, and acknowledgement of the reality of pain and suffering – all of which are often minimized, challenged, and denied by the larger society in the lives of marginalized peoples – are crucial to allow me to provide care that truly honors my clients and their experiences. With regard to research interests, my doctoral graduating class included seven African American women and we have remained personally and professionally connected via an informal network. The principles of acceptance and commitment have been key components of the foundation that has contributed to our continued growth and development, and I am excited about opportunities to share our experiences with broader research and clinical communities. We will be leading a symposium at the American Psychological Association convention this year on how our “Sister Circle” approach to social networks has contributed to our own professional development and selfcare, and much of my contribution to our presentation has been influenced by values-based work within the context of community, which I experienced firsthand this year at the ACBS conference. I am also exploring opportunities for community education and dissemination of research in the context of spirituality and mental health; to that end, I will be presenting on issues of emotional health to people of faith in the Los Angeles area this spring.

Could you tell us about your experience at the World Conference this year?
I found the World Conference to be intellectually stimulating, personally refreshing, and incredibly rewarding. The broad range of topics and rich content was initially overwhelming and vastly exceeded my expectations. One of my goals in attending the conference was to find “my tribe,” clinically speaking, and, by the end of the first day, I definitely felt that I was surrounded by like-minded people. It was extremely helpful to participate in experiential workshops where the instructors were not only teaching skills to use with clients, but were modeling generosity, vulnerability, courage, and acceptance with every exercise and role play. I felt very welcome by the Diversity Committee and its co-chairs, and am happy to now be working with the committee in promoting issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion for ACBS.

Was there anything that stood out to you about the CBS community?
Although I attended the conference alone and did not know anyone when I first arrived, I was immediately struck with the sense of community that infused the World Conference. The feeling of openness and welcome was a pleasant surprise, and it was easy to meet people and form connections. It is a cliché to say that learning should be fun, but unfortunately, in far too many settings, there seems to be an assumption that having fun is frivolous and unbecoming and that there is little room for individuality, creativity, subjectivity, or expressiveness in professional contexts. The CBS community certainly challenges that notion by making space for laughter, tears, vulnerability, challenge, and growth within a context of mutual respect and acceptance.

What did you take back from your experience that has been helpful to you?
The biggest challenge I faced throughout the conference was constantly weighing my desire to obtain information that could be helpful for my colleagues, peers, and trainees at my job against my hunger to engage with presentations and workshops that resonated with me and addressed my own professional and personal needs. Ultimately, I came to understand that much of what was personally appealing to me would also benefit others, because it tended to center around living into and out of one’s values. Although at times I wish I could have cloned myself to be able to attend several workshops at once in order to be exposed to cutting-edge research, learn new clinical techniques, and be guided by the wisdom of masters in the field, I was continually reminded that the effectiveness of the work that I hope to do is not predicated on my knowing as much as I can, but on my accepting my capabilities and my limitations as I open myself to a life of authenticity and wholeness.

Do you have anything else that you would like to share with the community?
I’m very grateful to the entire ACBS community and Diversity Committee for providing this opportunity and hope to continue my involvement with ACBS for years to come.

Are you wondering how you can help to disseminate CBS in the developing world through scholarship opportunities like this? Please consider donating to the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Fund via Paypal by using the button below. Your donation will help us continue to bring increased diversity to our annual conferences by providing funds for individuals who come from diverse backgrounds and who would not be able to attend an ACBS conference without this added financial support.

Every dollar/euro/yen goes to helping those in need -- not a nickel goes to administration. Money collected for this fund is distributed by an ACBS Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee. Scholarships are awarded based on need and merit. 

Please note that this contribution does not qualify as a tax-deductible charitable contribution, according to USA tax law ... but it's a nice thing to do.

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