University faculty present at the 26th Conference of the Hellenic Association for Counseling

University faculty present at the 26th Conference of the Hellenic Association for Counseling

Dr. Alessandra Sax, Director of Psychology Programs at Hellenic American University, and Dr. Maria Agorastou, faculty member and Coordinator of the Counseling Center, delivered a joint presentation at the 26th Annual Conference of the Hellenic Association for Counseling, which was held online February 19 and 20, 2022. The Conference was sponsored in part by the Hellenic American University MSPSY Program in Clinical Psychology & Clinical Mental Health Counseling.

“We were very lucky to represent the University at the Association’s conference,” Dr. Sax said, noting that the Hellenic Association for Counseling is the accrediting body for our MSPSY Program in Clinical Psychology & Mental Health Counseling. “It’s important that our students, who will eventually go through the accreditation process to become members of the Association, experience first-hand the culture of the profession. The Conference is an excellent way for them to see the profession at work and to realize they are part of something bigger.” Dr. Sax notes that the University was able to secure a discount so that students in the program could more easily attend.

The theme for the two-day event, which included presentations and workshops, was sibling attachment. Drs. Sax and Agorastou’s own presentation focused on “Childhood Sibling Attachment as An Emotional Regulation Model.” As they note in their abstract, the attachment that children build with early caregivers serves as an internal working model in forming adult relationships later in life. The idea that we learn how to behave socially from our parents has long been a topic for both research and therapeutic. But the two researchers and clinical practitioners point out that this internal working model also applies to the attachments that siblings develop towards each other. Brothers and sisters, they note, play an important role in each other's lives while growing up because they also function as socializing agents during childhood and adolescence. The relationship serves as a model for appropriate interaction with friends, particularly the first friendships of childhood.

In their presentation, Drs. Sax and Agorastou explored this theoretical framework through two case studies from clinical practice and analyzed how sibling attachment can provide an additional attachment model, especially with regard to emotional regulation skills.

Image: University faculty present at the 26th Conference of the Hellenic Association for Counseling