Fielding Graduate University News

Preparations are set for the Sixth Annual International Conference on Positive Aging in Los Angeles, CA in February 2013

Posted by Hilary Edwards on Thu, Nov 29, 2012

PACCommunity members and renowned experts gather to shape confident future for aging population.

Featuring keynote speaker Wendy Lustbader, MSW, live webinar with Ram Dass, award recognition for Dr. James E. Birren,and presentation from Dr. Brian de Vries amongst many others.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, baby boomers will turn 65 at a rate of 10,000 per day for the next decade making them the fastest growing segment of the population. Future implications indicate: “tomorrow’s elderly will have quite different social, demographic, health, and economic characteristics than today’s elderly… as average length of life continues to increase, issues regarding the quality of active life expectancy are likely to assume greater importance.” In anticipation of this growing segment of our population, the Sixth Annual International Conference on Positive Aging, hosted by Fielding Graduate University’s Institute for Social Innovation, brings together notable speakers and workshop leaders to explore new and innovative approaches to positive aging. This year’s topic is “Life-Reimagined: New Approaches to Positive Aging” and the conference will take place February 10-12, 2013 at the Center for Healthy Communities at The California Endowment in Los Angeles.

The Sixth Annual International Conference on Positive Aging includes a variety of workshops that explore themes of creative expression, community, wellness, and life transitions.  Dr. Katrina Rogers, Provost of Fielding Graduate University and Senior Vice-President states:  “Positive aging promotes creativity, wellness, and growth. It means taking personal control of your life instead of being a victim or passive observer. In this model, aging presents a new opportunity for being socially active, for engaging with the community, for being productive, and for seeking a new meaning and purpose in life. This is why the conference is larger each year: people are interested about how to age well.” The conference provides opportunities to engage in physical and creative activities, including yoga, meditation, music, and connecting with others with similar interests.  Conference registration is open to the public.

Wendy Lustbader resized 600The keynote speaker for this year’s conference is Wendy Lustbader, MSW, who currently serves as Affiliate Associate Professor at the University of Washington School of Social Work. Ms. Lustbader has considerable experience working with older people, their families and caregivers, and lectures nationally on subjects related to aging.  As a medical social worker, she specialized for almost twenty years in out-patient mental health at the Pike Market Medical Clinic in Seattle, and has also practiced in a home health care agency, hospital geriatric unit, and nursing home. Ms. Lustbader’s first book was co-authored with Nancy Hooyman, Taking Care of Aging Family Members. This is a practical guide to caregiving which is still considered the best book of its kind by experts in the field of aging. At the opening reception on Sunday, February 10th, Ms. Lustbader will speak about her latest book, Life Gets Better: The Unexpected Pleasures of Growing Older.


Ram Dass resized 600The conference will also host a webinar with world-renowned American contemporary spiritual teacher and author Ram Dass. He is known for his personal and professional associations with Timothy Leary at Harvard University in the early 1960's, for his travels to India and his relationship with the Hindu guru Neem Karoli Baba, and for founding the charitable organizations Seva Foundation and Hanuman Foundation. His practice of karma yoga or spiritual service has opened up millions to their deep, yet individuated spiritual practice and path. Dass continues to uphold the boddhisatva ideal for others through his compassionate sharing of true knowledge and vision. His unique skill in getting people to cut through and feel divine love without dogma is still a positive influence on people all over the world.


BirrenPic resized 600Dr. James E. Birren is one of the "reigning pioneers" in the organized field of gerontology since the 1940s. He is a past president of The Gerontological Society of America, and author of over 250 publications. Dr. Birren will receive Fielding's Creative Longevity and Wisdom Award in recognition of his six decades of seminal contributions including the influential work on guided autobiography.





Brian de Vries resized 600Featured speaker Dr. Brian de Vries, Professor of Gerontology at San Francisco State University, and will share his extensive work on aging experiences, including bereavement among gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender adults.  He is a Fellow of the Gerontological Society of American, a member of the Leadership Council for the American Society on Aging, and co-chair of the Lesbian and Gay Aging Issues Network constituency group. Most recently, Dr. de Vries has become a policy advisor for AARP, California. 




Attendees include professionals in the fields of health care, insurance, life planning, care giving and lifelong learning, as well as those interested in ageism, gaining, spirituality, creativity, wellness, entrepreneurship and more.

Early registration for the three day conference is $275 until January 14th, 2013, and $300 after. Single day tickets are $125. Registration includes meals and opening reception Sunday evening.  To attend only the Sunday dinner reception featuring keynote speaker Wendy Lustbader is $80.

To register, please visit:

For more information and updates about the conference, please visit the website:

Join the Facebook page for speaker updates and event announcements: Positive Aging Conference FACEBOOK 











Tags: creativity, social justice, educational leadership, diversity, religion, intentional change, conference, sociology, self-esteem, international, adult learning, higher education, fielding graduate university, human development, learning

Denise M. Frank, PhD, alumna and ISI Research Fellow from Fielding, publishes research focused on the meaning of self-esteem for individuals with psychotic disorders

Posted by Hilary Edwards on Mon, Oct 08, 2012

journ of human behv resized 600Alumna Dr. Denise M. Frank (MA, PSY '05) and research fellow with the Institute for Social Innovation (ISI) at Fielding Graduate University, recently co-authored an article published in the Journal of Humanistic Psychology with Dr. Larry Davidson of Yale University entitled Experiences of Self-Esteem in Outpatients Diagnosed with Psychosis-A Phenomenological Study

Sage Journals abstract:

Denise M. Frank, Larry Davidson
Journal of Humanistic Psychology July 2012 vol. 52 no. 3 304-320

The aim of the article is explore the meaning of self-esteem for individuals with psychotic disorders. To understand how individuals with psychosis experience self-esteem, eight participants (four females and four males) were interviewed using a semistructured open-ended format with scripted questions. Individuals with psychotic disorders maintained a sense of self by pursuing social and interpersonal activities that sustained and enhanced their self-esteem. Neither the positive symptoms nor the negative symptoms commonly associated with psychotic disorders appeared to diminish self-esteem. Also, participants did not describe their sense of self-esteem as being contingent on, or as a direct function of, having a psychotic disorder. For the individuals in this pilot study, self-esteem did not appear to be affected by having a psychotic disorder or by the stigma associated with having been given such a diagnosis. Individuals were able to engage in and maintain social and interpersonal relationships that contributed to their having a positive sense of self-worth. Further study is required to confirm and elaborate on this surprising set of findings.

Denise's publication, Experiences of Self-Esteem in Outpatients Diagnosed With Psychosis - A Phenomenological Study, has has been identified by Psychology Progress as "a journal article considered to represent the best in Psychology research."

For further information:;52/3/304

denise frank resized 600With over 21 years of teaching experience, theoretical psychologist Denise M. Frank currently serves as Adjunct Professor of Psychology at Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry, New York.  She earned her Ph.D. in 2009 from Capella University and her Master’s in Clinical Psychology from Fielding Graduate University in 2005. Denise is a Research Fellow with the Institute for Social Innovation (ISI) at Fielding Graduate University. Her research interests focus on understanding the issues of self-esteem in individuals with schizophrenia. Denise has written a text for those students interested in getting into a doctoral program entitled “Frank’s Handbook for Prospective Ph.D. Students: How to Maximize Your Chances of Getting In and Staying In. Dubuque, Iowa: Kendal/Hunt Publishing Company”.


Tags: psychology, self-esteem, qualitative research, human development, research