At the 2015 Annual Conference in Costa Mesa, a significant part of our general membership meeting was devoted discussing how to encourage and support individuals who are new to family law but want to be more deeply involved. Of particular concern to many of us is that it is increasingly difficult for mental health professionals to fulfill the requirements to become court-approved custody evaluators and then to become known to and trusted by attorneys and bench officers. Speaking to these needs, and drawing on the cogent input of members in attendance, AFCC-CA is in the process of developing a Mentoring Program. The Board of Directors has made the program a formal part of its agenda and formed a committee to propel the program forward. The committee currently includes Board members Bob Kaufman, PhD, ABPP (Chair) and Merlyn Hernandez, Esq. as well as non-Board members Nancy Olesen, PhD, Rhonda Barovsky, LCSW and Frank Davis, PhD.
The committee will very soon be seeking the ideas and active participation of our broad reaching membership. Expect a survey to arrive in your inbox, and please, complete it and consider how you can contribute. Thus far, we looking at several areas:
• Assessing and analyzing problems members experience and/or see in career advancement for professionals earlier in their family law careers;
• Looking at ways for professionals to gain knowledge, experience and insight from more seasoned professionals;
• Addressing the need for mental health professionals to connect with potential supervisors to assist gaining approval to conduct court-appointed work and especially custody evaluations;
• Establish liaisons with local courts and other professional groups to enhance training and development for mental health professionals starting to conduct custody evaluations:
• Explore ways that AFCC-CA can influence rules and regulations regarding evaluator training and experience.
Our plan is to present results of the membership survey, as well as ideas for next steps to formalize aspects of the Mentoring Program at the 2016 conference in San Francisco. We on the committee are excited about following up on what our members have identified as clear needs in our profession.
We are in a position to make an impact. Let’s do it!