Ties That Heal: Geneva Students Organize Oct. 2-4 International Psychology Conference

| September 30, 2013
Student Organizers of the 2013 Ties That Heal Conference

Student organizers of the 2013 Ties That Heal Conference range in years in school and majors, including psychology, media, international relations, and computer science.

A team of students stand poised and ready to welcome speakers and guests from around the world for the second International Psychology and Counseling conference at Webster University Geneva, “Ties That Heal.” The conference will take place Oct. 2-4 at the Geneva International Conference Center. Renowned scholars and practitioners are coming from the U.S., the United Kingdom, Ireland and universities of Geneva and Lausanne to cover topics such as pathways for healing the self/the individual, healing from traumatic events, and healing relationships with insights from neuroscience.

Organizing the Conference: Students’ Point of View

The student volunteers spent months coordinating and organizing the event, and range in years in school and majors, which include psychology, media, international relations, and computer science. “The most rewarding and exciting part about organizing this event is the spirit of team work that is conveyed and modeled by everyone,” said Marie Jonsson, a senior from Sweden majoring in Psychology.

The spirit of team work was on display while preparing conference materials.

“This is so exciting,” said Soraya Morgantini, a senior Psychology major who has lived in both Mexico and Switzerland. “People often believe that the hard sciences do not go together with the ‘soft’ social sciences – therapy, psychology and everything to do with well-being. But our way of thinking is slowly shifting as we learn more about the brain. Some professors call it a ‘social organ’ because the brain is shaped and actually physically changes by what we are exposed to – our environment.”

“Leading up to the conference, we have been reaching out to the community to sign up people for the conference through various activities, such as raising awareness through class announcements and through our Facebook page, organizing bake sales, where baked goods are exchanged for registrations, and putting up posters inside and outside of campus,” said Edil Egeh, a senior who also serves as the secretary of the University’s Psychology Club and is majoring in Psychology. Egeh has lived in both Somalia and Switzerland.

Sweet enthusiasm! Students had a fun time preparing the chocolate bar giveaways for conference attendees.

Through the professional guidance of University staff coordinators, the student organizers are responsible for all the operations during the event including setting up the venue, registration, escorting, and doing outreach.The faculty remains quite grateful for all the hard work done by this team of student coordinators, which has made the conference possible, according to Ros Thomas, head of the psychology and counseling department in Geneva.

“With their engagement, the conference will reach out and help professionals, academics, and the general public,” Thomas said. “We can rightfully be proud of our talented global citizens who approach their roles with professionalism and enthusiasm. Webster’s local and international reputation will be enhanced by the role our students play in the event.”

Scheduled Speakers for “Ties That Heal” Conference

“We are excited about Dr. Amy Banks, a famous psychiatrist from the United States, who will deliver a keynote speech on what is the current information/knowledge about brain science and how that can help us form closer relationships,” said Morgantini.

In her presentation, Banks is expected to explain how research has shown that specific areas of the brain can be strengthened to help a person lead a calmer life.

Other speakers at this year’s conference include: Hemla Singaravelu, Webster Worldwide Counseling director and chair of the professional counseling department; Mark Philbin, Dublin City University; Grazia Ceschi, University of Geneva; and Emmy van Deurzen of the Dilemma Consultancy in London. For a complete listing of the conference speakers, visit the Webster Geneva event page.

Reflections on the 2012 Conference

The first conference, “Building Bridges: Supporting Individuals and Families in Transition,” was held in 2011. Conceptualized by Thomas, the conference was created out of the increased need for English speaking expatriates, working and living in the Geneva area, to come together and discuss the current trends. This forum provides an opportunity for conversations about therapy, psychology/counseling, as well as resources for individuals, parents and families who need help. This conference was envisioned as an outreach event to bring together the English-speaking members of the region while welcoming professionals from across the world.  The conference was also designed as a way to involve the psychology students and showcase the great talent harbored on campus.

“The first conference, we had 200 participants. We are hoping to attract the same number this year,” Jonsson said.  “With two weeks to go, registrations are going strong.”

Looking Forward: 2014 Conference & Beyond

While the topic of the next conference is still unknown, the student coordinators are hopeful that another conference is definitely on the horizon.

“We hope to continue to attract professionals as well as the general public and we hope to continue to recruit our fellow students,” said Prashant Prashad, a junior from India majoring in Psychology. “We gain an invaluable experience in this professional event and the participants gain useful and insightful information from top scholars, authors, and speakers from all over the world.”

Student Organizers and Volunteers
Organizers: Volunteers:
Sara Abdelfattah Adriana Medrano Callejas
Nejal Acevinkumar Joy Corthesy
Debo Babington-Ashaye Oleksander Danylovych
Rafaela Cordona Rinera Kate Dorland
Edil Egeh Charitini Gkini
Jean-Pierre Fort Helena Goncalves da Silva
Courtney Jensen Paola Henao
Marie Jonsson Ngoni Hove
Amy Klipsch Natalie Kraeher
Victoria Lyunmanova Lisa Lemée
Anna Martynova Sanna Paulsson
Elisah Mbiza Shabnam Sharifi
Soraya Morgantini Alberro Meghan Sheridan
Emmanuella Okyere-Bour Olivia Syme Van Ameringen
Prashant Prashad Vjosa Tashi
Wonda Seaboyer
Aaliyah Sekatawa
Hailey Shoemaker
Savanna Wuson


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