Dealing with Differences Differently

Pre-Conference Institute: Saturday & Sunday, April 18 & 19 
Two-Day Experiential Training

Five-Day Conference: Monday – Friday, April 20 –24 
Two-Hour Workshops

At the 2020 Systems-Centered Training Annual Conference we will explore the various ways that human systems work with – or keep out – differences. 

At a neurobiological level, novelty – difference – can evoke curiosity. If the difference is too different, it arouses fear and anxiety. This hard-wired response, while useful in keeping us alert to changing conditions, keeps us from engaging with differences. Instead, we may fight with differences or try to keep them out or get depressed about them. It is the source of conflict among human systems of all kinds – between individuals, couples, families, groups, communities, work teams, organizations and even societies. Curiosity and working with small differences help systems grow and develop.

SCT is a theory-driven practice focusing on dynamics in living human systems. The theory says that human systems survive, develop and transform from simple to complex through an increasing ability to recognize differences and integrate them. The method at the heart of this practice, Functional Subgrouping, helps people deal with differences differently.

As therapists, coaches, consultants, leaders, healthcare professionals, and educators, we develop skills and tools to assist our clients when they are caught up in conflicts over differences. We also build our emotional capacity to be fully present for our clients and fully attuned to the here and now, making room in ourselves to contain all sides of the conflict. The focus of the 2020 SCT Conference will be practical methods for ourselves and our clients to work with differences.

We are looking for interactive sessions that relate to the themes of destabilization, uncertainty, change, and how systems respond, adapt, and potentially thrive.

Do you have an idea for a session that focuses on SCT applications, theory or research in clinical, organizational, educational or everyday contexts? If so, we’d love you to submit a proposal. Please plan time for discussion as well as presentation of material.

The information you provide will be used in evaluating your proposal and developing the conference program. It will be available on the website to help participants select the trainings that best match their goals. The information requested here is also required by the American Psychological Association in order for SCTRI to provide continuing education (CE) credits.

The deadline for proposal submissions is Wednesday, July 15.  If you have any questions, please contact Gayna Havens (US) or Peter Kunneman (Netherlands).

You will be notified of your acceptance in mid-October. Please note: All presenters are expected to register, pay for, and attend the Conference. 

SCTRI will provide easels, markers and paper. Presenters are responsible for providing A/V equipment (projectors, screens, etc.) and other supplies. If you’d like a cost estimate for renting A/V equipment, please contact  Jan Vadell.

Workshops and trainings at the Systems-Centered Training Annual Conference will only be recorded for the purpose of supporting the learning of members of that training or for the benefit of SCTRI-as-a-whole, for the purposes of research, or for use in helping SCT cross the boundary to the wider world. Participants in any recorded training must give express permission to record prior to the event. Please contact Gayna Havens with any questions around recording.

Guidelines for Submitting Your Proposal:

Please Note, you must be logged in to this conference site to add a new proposal.

You must be logged in to the SCTRI website to submit a proposal. If you are an SCTRI member or have attended the SCT Annual Conference since 2016, you already have a user name and password. Click the blue "Login" link in the top right.

If you do not recall your user name or password, click the blue "Login" link in the top right & then click the gray "Reset Password" button & follow the prompts.

Questions? Contact Kathy Lum at

If your name appears top right, you are logged in. Click the “New Proposal” button below to see the information you will need to provide. Follow the links throughout the form for guidelines on presenter bios, learning objectives, presentation content, and supporting references. 

In an effort to improve the proposal process for presenters and the Program Planning Group, we have made some changes to the form.

  • You can save a DRAFT of your proposal and SUBMIT it at a later time. You will see a list of any proposals you have submitted or saved at the bottom of this page. Use the "Edit" link to update your workshop details or the "View" link to see a summary. The website will timeout after 1 hour and your draft will not be saved unless you tick the "SAVE AS DRAFT" box at the bottom of the form and press the "SAVE" button.
  • You will be asked to upload CVs or resumes for all presenters, as well as any required applications, when you submit your proposal, so please have these to hand.
  • You can CLONE a proposal from the 2019 Conference and update as needed. Note: APA now requires that at least 3 of your references are within the last 10 years. You will need to update the references on the cloned proposal. You can list additional references older than 10 years.

Please note that all fields are mandatory and you will only be able to submit your proposal when it is complete.

In an effort to support you in submitting a strong and complete proposal, we have included a checklist. The checklist will guide you through all the fields in the proposal, helping you create strong content that meets APA guidelines. Please find the checklist here.

When you have completed the form please click the “Save” button. Your proposal will be displayed in the list at the bottom of the page. If you are unable to submit a proposal, please contact Kathy Lum .