2023 Convention


Rock Hill, South Carolina

April 21–24, 2023


A woman in a wheelchair with a Golden on her left is being pushed by a woman with a Min Pin on her right. In the background a woman in a power wheelchair has two Japanese Chin on her lap. They are strolling down the boardwalk.
Good friends have good times at the convention!

Our 2023 convention will be among the friendly faces of Rock Hill, South Carolina! Rock Hill is just over the Carolina border from the Charlotte, NC Airport, which is surprisingly one of the busiest in the world (cheaper flights—but book early!). The convention will take place April 21–24.

We’ll return to the lovely lodging of the Hilton Garden Inn for our convention, within walking distance of a breadth of eateries (some with outdoor seating), a shopping center, and a large park.

The convention will take place over four days. There are no guarantees when it comes to the pandemic, but we’re hoping our continued vigilance and science-based health guidelines will enable us to have another safe convention.

Plan to arrive by Friday, April 21st for the welcome meeting that night (attendance expected). Typical convention activities end Sunday, April 23rd, but those who can should join us for a group outing to the Discovery Place Science museum in Charlotte, NC on Monday the 24th.

Registration

Discounted (25% off) registration closes December 31st, 2022. Standard registration closes on March 24, 2023. Details are on the 2023 Convention Registration page.

Standard convention scholarship applications are due January 1, 2023. A streamlined tourism day application is available through March 24, 2023.

Info packet

Our info packet has much of what you want to know about the convention, plus the policies you need to know about if you’re considering joining us.

The 2022 convention info packet is linked in this sentence. The 2023 convention info packet will be released before the convention, but the 2022 info packet serves as a good reference for the policies, procedures, and schedule.

We have a strong incentive to eat outside when eating together, so we can stay safe during the pandemic. A list of nearby restaurants and their outdoor seating availability is linked in this sentence.

a person sits on the ground with their australian shepherd's head in their lap.
Convention-goers are free to relax or engage as we train, learn, and socialize

What’s it like? Are there pictures?

PSDP conventions are times for prospective and current psychiatric service dog handlers to network through workshops, training, support, and a lot of fun! The 2022 convention pictures are linked in this sentence.

For more of a taste of what they’re like, enjoy the quotations below and find more pictures on the pages of previous conventions.

Health guidelines

We will continue to monitor and follow the best available science to keep our disability community safe; the following guidelines are subject to change.

We’re serious about protecting/respecting each others’ health. Masks are required indoors. Full COVID vaccination is required. Disability-based exceptions with strict extra behavioral precautions are available only if approved before registration. A negative rapid COVID test is required Friday (provided). We continually ventilate the meeting room. Anyone who is feeling unwell should expect to isolate/visit urgent care. If you have any questions, please contact us.

If you plan to bring hand sanitizer, please remember our policy against using scented products.

By respecting one another’s health in these ways and taking all due precautions, we strive to have the safest convention we can.


Sponsors

We’re accepting convention sponsors through March 24th for 2023 and we’d love to have you partner with us. If you have a donation of goods or services, volunteers like Deanna Thompson—our Goodie Bag Guru—await you with a warm heart and a smiling face.


A woman in a power wheelchair with two Japanese Chin, a woman with a Papillon, a woman in a wheelchair with a Golden, and another woman holding a Min Pin all stand in the alleyway outside the lamp store.

Our 2022 convention was rated 4.9 / 5 overall by convention-goers! Our previous attendees had the following to pass along to those considering joining us at future conventions:

There is something marvelous about gathering together with other SD handlers & people with mental illness that lasts beyond the convention itself. Validation. Hope. Confidence.

I was a little nervous attending, as this was my first convention. But it was one of the most positive experiences in recent memory. I was free to be myself and was still able to fit in, and and feel seen and understood in a way that was both novel and refreshing. I’m already thinking about how to make attending next year’s convention work.

Going to this convention on several different years is the reason I’ve had any confidence whatsoever as a service dog handler. The people that attend are so supportive and have helped me work through different issues I was having, like how to navigate an access challenge with confidence, how to customize what kind of tasks/work my dog would do to my own unique situation, and now, how to figure out what kind of dog would meet my needs better for my successor dog. The convention committee is so nice and everybody who attends is valued for who they are, disability and all. I really appreciated being around people who are like me, as that is so rare in my everyday life. It’s so powerful to go places with other service dog teams. Although I feel anxiety before I go to the conventions, I always realize that it was unwarranted when I get there, and that other people have the same kind of worries I do. I feel so much less alone at the PSDP Conventions. If I could go every year, I would.

Conventions give me the opportunity to see old friends and make new ones. I love both learning about others’ service dog journeys and also going out in large groups with other teams. It is so awesome to be in a pack of people and dogs who are just like you.

If anyone out there with a PSD or wanting a PSD feels alone or like there is no one that understands or that can relate to them and the way they live or the way they feel and think, come to a PSDP convention and you will find the people that you have been looking for your whole life. That is how it as for me.

I have never been so far away from home yet felt so at home before. This is the best gift I could ever give myself and my service dog.