Keynote Speakers

Opening Keynote Speaker

Irvin YalomIrvin D. Yalom, MD, one of the most influential mental health professionals of our time, returns to ACA to provide a very different message: a real-world, practical message packed with information you can put to use immediately. His insights will be largely based on notes he has collected from sessions and research throughout his career, as well as powerful comments and thoughts from colleagues and clients. He will share his views on the impact of counseling and lessons learned through his practice, writing, and research.

Well known for his personal model of interpersonal and existential psychotherapy, Yalom is highly celebrated in the counseling profession for his pioneering role in constructing group counseling principles. He is also a strong proponent, as evidenced by his writing in The Gift of Therapy, that each client should receive a unique therapy experience because every person has his or her own unique story. Dr. Yalom currently serves as Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry at the Stanford University School of Medicine and maintains a part-time private practice for individual therapy in San Francisco and Palo Alto. His first book, The Theory and Practice of Group Psychotherapy has been widely used as a text for training therapists. And his first book of teaching tales, Love's Executioner, was a NY Times bestseller. Dr. Yalom has since written 12 books—Creatures of a Day being the latest. His memoirs, Was That Life? Well, Then, Once Again, will be published in 2017. A book signing session will follow Dr. Yalom’s keynote address at the Moscone West Convention Center.


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Saturday Keynote Speaker

Jessica Pettitt Jessica Pettitt
Discussions about race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and other sensitive topics in everyday life outside of client relationships can be uncomfortable. But they're critical to advancing our society through acceptance and empowerment of diverse populations. In engaging such topics with confidence—and even a little humor—you can become your own best tool for structuring conversations that make a difference. Understanding yourself and others as differently right gives you the tools to intentionally design teams, groups, campaigns, and partnerships that can bring value to advocacy efforts. We are all frustrating to someone, and at times, even to ourselves. Once you know who and how you are, you can reclaim responsibility for these behavior response patterns and leave room for others to do the same. 

For more than a decade, Jessica Pettitt has been educating others to support and guide through the beautiful lens of diversity. Her social justice and diversity curricula are used nationwide. Jessica brings humor, a high-level understanding of adult learning, and a unique ability to engage and empower diverse audiences for the greater good.