2020 MPAGS Convention 

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Location: The Meeting House, 5885 Robert Oliver Place, Columbia, MD.

Onsite registration will open at 8:00 am

Networking Breakfast: 8:00 am - 8:50 am 
Join us for light refreshments and coffee before the keynote.

Keynote address: 9:00 am - 10:00 am

Morning Workshop: 10:00 am - 11:00 am

Poster session: 11:00 am - 12 noon

Lunch and awards presentation: 12:00 noon - 1:00 pm 

Afternoon Workshop: 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm

Advocacy Panel: 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm


Preventing Practice Burnout: Self Care Strategies for a Lasting Career in Psychology

Shreya Hessler, Psy.D.

Session Description:

The practice of psychology, particularly for graduate students and early career psychologists, can bring unique circumstances related to self-care. While clinicians are well trained in providing empathy, support, and strategies to their clients, the toll on the clinician can be significant. Often it is difficult to manage a caseload, the complexities of their clients’ presenting problems, and the business of practice. This lecture will provide new and seasoned practitioners with ways to identify potential stressors in their careers related to clinical work and strategies for grounding, self-care, and career preservation. 

Participants in this course can expect to

-          Identify factors that contribute to increased stress among clinicians

-          Learn strategies for practice management and self-care

-          Explain the benefits of practicing daily self-care as a model for clients

-          List resources for clinicians to employ for themselves and their clients


Dr. Hessler is the founder and director of The MINDset Center. She has been in private practice for over a decade. She specializes in the identification and treatment of anxiety disorders, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder, depression, and behavioral disorders. Dr. Hessler is trained in cognitive-behavioral and applied behavioral therapy for the treatment of children, adolescents, and adults. She uses a comprehensive approach in working with clients. After a thorough diagnostic interview, clients collaborate with Dr. Hessler to create a treatment plan that target specific symptoms.

In addition to her therapy practice, Dr. Hessler has been an affiliate member of the faculties at Towson University and Loyola University in Maryland and has taught psychology courses both the undergraduate and graduate levels. In recent years, she has worked with youth athletes and consulted with sports programs to create healthy environments for athletic development. She now works with athletes and staff at Towson University’s Sports Medicine Department, promoting mental health wellness for students. Dr. Hessler frequently presents locally and around the country on topics regarding anxiety and behavior management. Dr. Hessler also volunteers her time as a member of the Local Management Board of Harford County and Advisory Board for the College of Arts and Sciences at Loyola University in Maryland. She is the immediate Past President of the Maryland Psychological Association.

After serving the community in individual practice, Dr. Hessler launched The MINDset Center to help clients receive more integrated care when needed. In addition to individual and group therapy, The MINDset Center is proud to offer specialized services for those with identified learning differences including dyslexia, dysgraphia and ADHD. Where appropriate, MINDset providers can collaborate together to provide an optimal treatment plan with services in a central location.

Morning Workshop

Time and Chance Happen to Them All: Addressing the Psychosocial and Affective Comorbidities of Sickle Cell Disease in Affected Adolescents and Young Adults

Lydia Pecker, MD

Session description:

Sickle cell disease is an archetypal chronic disease associated with pain, overt and insidious damage to the brain, lungs, kidneys, bones, among other organs and early death. In the United States, children are now expected to survive into adulthood and adolescents and young adults with sickle cell disease must learn to manage their disease and navigate a new (adult) health care system just as end-organ injury becomes more pronounced and new disease manifestations arise. For these young people, depression is common, chronic pain emerges as a major challenge and opioids and/or marijuana is used to palliate symptoms. In this session, we will discuss the mental health care challenges and needs of young people with sickle cell disease with attention to how the disease and stigma associated with the disease complicate this care.

 Learning objectives of the presentation

A. Describe the cause of sickle cell disease, it’s primary manifestations, complications and treatments

B. Identify depression as a common co-morbid condition in young people with sickle cell disease 

C. Discuss ways that sickle cell disease complicates mental health care (and vice versa) 


Lydia H. Pecker is the Director of the Young Adult Clinic at the Sickle Cell Center for Adults at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, Maryland. Dr. Pecker is a Brooklyn native, and trained in the Bronx and Washington D.C. before settling in Baltimore. Dr. Pecker is supported by awards from the American Society of Hematology, the Johns Hopkins Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health program and the National Institutes of Health to study fertility and reproductive intentions in girls and women with sickle cell disease. She hopes this work will help provide more concrete information to girls and women with sickle cell disease as they make consequential reproductive- and treatment-decisions.

Afternoon workshop

Understanding the In’s & Out’s of Therapeutic Placements: Wilderness Programs, Residential Treatment Programs, & Therapeutic Boarding Schools

Joshua Cohen, Ph.D.

Therapeutic programs exist in many shapes and sizes, but many professionals know little about them; how they work, who they treat, and their level of treatment success.  This presentation will look at various types of therapeutic programs, who would benefit from entering a treatment program, and how likely the participant would be to find the experience worthwhile.  Research will be presented to guide the answers to these questions and attention will be focused on Wilderness Programs, Residential Treatment Programs, and Therapeutic Boarding Schools.

This workshop is designed to help you:

1. List and be able to discuss three different types of Therapeutic Programs

2. Identify the major research findings reported by E. Behrens (2006, 2007) and Behrens and Satterfield, 2007) showing statistically significant changes in participants who attend treatment programs.

3. Identify results from studies showing comparison data between the effectiveness of therapeutic treatment program participation compared with other treatment modalities (Fonagay, Target, Cottrell, Phillips & Kurtz, 2002).

4. Discuss three sub-specialty issues of programmatic focus.

Joshua Cohen, Ph.D., is a licensed psychologist currently in private practice in Rockville, Maryland.  In his practice, Dr. Cohen works with adolescents and adults in individual, couples, and family therapy.  In addition to working with patients on issues related to substance abuse, depression, anxiety and relationship problems, Dr. Cohen also specializes in consultation and placement services for individuals needing Residential Treatment, Therapeutic Wilderness programs, and Therapeutic Boarding Schools. 

Dr. Cohen is a past president of the Maryland Psychological Association (2012-2013), and has served in MPA as Chair of Early Career Psychologist Committee, Chair of Membership Committee, Chair of Educational Affairs Committee, and Representative-at-Large.  Dr. Cohen is currently the Chair of MPA’s Legislative Committee, Chair of the PAC, and was the Chair of the Succession Planning Task Force/Search Committee to hire the MPA Executive Director. He earned his Master’s and PhD at Michigan State University.

Advocacy Panel

We close out MPAGS 2020 with a panel discussion with members of the Maryland Psychological Association's (MPA) Legislative Committee. We will touch on current legislation before the Maryland General Assembly that may impact psychologists in the state.


Registration Fee (all day. Includes breakfast and lunch.)

$30/MPAGS members

$45/non-MPAGS members

Non-members can join MPAGS when they register and receive the member rate.