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  • Writer's pictureRyon McDermott

Facing the Issues: Masculinities in Research and Practice Conference

Updated: Jan 15, 2019

Dr. Ed Adams, D51 2018 President, recounts the successful Midwinter conference in New Jersey addressing current research and clinical topics in the psychology of men.

On the morning of March 24, 2018, the Rutgers Inn and Conference Center in New Brunswick, New Jersey was buzzing with activity and conversation. Graduate students from the Rutgers University Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology (GSAPP) were setting up tables and registration material that welcomed over 60 attendees to the GSAPP & SPSMM-Division 51 Conference entitled, Facing the Issues: Masculinities in Research and Practice.

It portended a highly packed day of curiosity, information, participation, and good will. It is important to note that attendees included graduate students, early career psychologists, faculty, clinicians, and lay people interested in men’s issues. This mix made for a lively and interesting dialogue throughout the day.

After welcoming everyone to the conference, I introduced Dr. Francine Conway, the Dean of GSAPP. Francine offered words of encouragement and support for the efforts of Division 51 on behalf of men and boys. Her enthusiasm and endorsement for the value of furthering greater understanding of gender issues was evident.


Our keynote speaker (see image below) was Dr. Dennis Tirch. Dennis is the founder of the Center for Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT) located in New York City. He is also the author and/or contributor to many books and articles on compassion, anxiety, and CFT.

An internationally recognized authority, Dennis explained the evolutionary and social origins of compassion with clarity and accessible depth and set a warm and dynamic tone to launch the conference.

Morning Workshops

Following the keynote, participants had a choice of attending two concurrent workshops (all workshops were approved for CE credits by APA).

Dr. Christopher Reigeluth and Dr. Bill Johnson facilitated Empowerment-Based Therapy Approaches for Working with Historically Marginalized Males (image below). School and clinical psychologists as well as doctoral students found that Chris and Bill led a workshop that was highly informative and applied.

The second workshop choice was facilitated by myself (Dr. Ed Adams) and was entitled, Exploring Non-Traditional, Male-Friendly Interventions with Men: Why Men Mentoring Men Works. Those in attendance were exposed to ideas and interventions that encouraged creative and applied interventions with men in individual and group settings.

Afternoon Workshops

There were also two concurrent workshop choices in the afternoon. Dr. Brian Cole led a session entitled, Positive Psychotherapy with Men. Brian’s experience and knowledge was eagerly shared with the many men and women in attendance (see image below).

Dr. Holly Sweet and Dr. Daniel Ellenberg led the second concurrent workshop entitled: Men as Allies in Combating Sexual Harassment: Positive and Collaborative Approaches in Training. Holly and Daniel (pictured below) expertly used didactic and experiential approaches to open a meaningful dialogue on a particularly pertinent topic.

Feedback from all four workshops was positive and generated thoughtful questions and post-workshop inquiries.

Conclusion Conversation and Events

Upon completion of the workshops late in the afternoon, all participants and facilitators convened in the main conference space for a lively conversation and Q&A. Musical entertainment concluded the conference with Harvey Rich playing the guitar and singing two original songs about the importance of expressing feelings and the emotional impact of bullying.

A participant who signed up to become a member of Division 51 won a hand painted print called Intimacy from my book Becoming a Happier Man: A Man’s Guide To Living A Full And Meaningful Life. The conference ended with a reception of drinks and finger foods provided by the not-for-profit organization, Men Mentoring Men (M3).

We agreed that it was a “home run with the bases loaded” event.
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