WELCOME | Message From the Program chair | ...

54th Annual Convention 2020 |
Welcome From the Program Chairs
Shannon Wiltsey Stirman, Ph.D., Program Chair
Dissemination and Training Division, National Center for PTSD and Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University

Daniel M. Cheron, Ph.D., ABPP. Associate Program Chair
Judge Baker Children's Center, Harvard Medical School

As the 2020 Program Chair and Associate Chair, we welcome you to our 54th Annual Convention with the recognition that this year has brought unprecedented challenges, but also new opportunities to improve the responsiveness and effectiveness of the work that we all do. ABCT's mission is to enhance public health and well-being through the application of science, a goal that is reflected in our 2020 theme, "Better Access, Better Outcomes: Enhancing the Impact of Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies." At the time that this theme was selected, we had no idea that 2020 would present our field with the formidable challenge of providing undisrupted access to care during a global pandemic, while sheltering in place. Many of our members rapidly transitioned to providing treatment through telehealth and grappled with questions about how best to provide access to those who lacked the resources or technology to engage in care. We also saw our society-and our field-called to action to ensure that individuals who continue to experience systemic racism or discrimination throughout their whole lives receive equitable treatment and opportunity. We have asked ourselves whether the treatments that we develop, study, and provide truly meet the needs of all we serve, and whether and how we can continue to improve their impact. These are questions that keep us up at night and fuel our own work, and we have worked to bring the same commitment in these roles as your Program Chair and Associate Chair. We are truly honored to have the opportunity to serve our organization, which has provided us with intellectual stimulation, friendships, and support for over two decades.

Developing a program amidst rapid changes in our society has been enormously rewarding. We have heard from our membership about ways that ABCT can grow and support diversity in our membership and respond to the important challenges that the individuals we serve face every day. We were fortunate that many of our members submitted highly relevant work in areas related to access to care and meeting the needs of diverse communities, and we hope that their presentations will inspire continued dialogue, action, and more innovation and research.

We have some exciting programming specific to increasing the impact of CBT. We are joined this year by a panel of experts who have pioneered methods related to treatment selection and personalization. Michelle Craske will moderate a panel with Aaron Fisher, Greg Siegle, Jacqueline Persons, and Robert DeRubeis on the approaches they have developed and tested to ensure that clients receive tailored, effective, and efficient treatment. Drs. Aaron Beck and Judy Beck will present remarks on the evolution of CBT and reflections on the conference theme.

Additionally, you will see a number of presentations on access to care during the COVID-19 pandemic. A key challenge has been not only to provide continuity and equitable access to care, but to do so in a way that ensures that outcomes are commensurate, or even improve upon, traditional face-to-face care. Innovations in digital health and integration of recent findings on ways to personalize care to improve outcomes also remain highly relevant in the current environment. As Program Chairs, it has been our role to work with our committee to consider how we can address these concerns within the program we have sought to create over the past year.

Some of our featured speakers will also be sharing their work that is geared toward disseminating, implementing, and increasing access to evidence-based treatment. Dr. Luana Marques will help us kick off the conference on Wednesday with a rich description of work that she and her team are doing with diverse and underserved populations in a variety of community-based settings. Dr. Eric Youngstrom will be speaking about his pioneering efforts to develop open source strategies to disseminate psychological science and provide greater access to evidence-based assessment and information about behavioral and emotional disorders. We are thrilled that Dr. Torrey Creed will moderate a panel of speakers, Drs. Sosunmolu Shoyinka, Karriem Salaam, Amber Calloway, Mr. Hector Ayala, and Mr. Todd Inman. They will discuss important considerations to providing access to care for a diverse client population within Philadelphia's public behavioral healthcare system, which has implemented CBT in many of its service settings. The panelists will discuss important considerations and challenges related to providing telemental health in the midst of the pandemic, and will describe the work at every level of the system to address the impact of systemic racism and experiences of discrimination experienced by much of the population that seeks services within the system.

Dr. Allison Harvey's work has spanned the continuum from treatment development to implementation, and we look forward to hearing her work towards identification of novel intervention targets related to sleep and memory that are safe, powerful, inexpensive, and scalable. Dr. Zindel Segal will share advances in MBCT including recent digital mental health studies. We are also delighted that our 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award Winner, Dr. Phil Kendall, will present on his influential work, which has also focused on both improving clinical outcomes for child anxiety, and increasingly, on implementing these interventions. Finally, in his presidential address, Dr. Martin Antony will speak to us about the challenges and opportunities for CBT in the era of COVID.

This year, we continued innovating in our program process:

  • We piloted a student reviewer program, and 55 students co-reviewed abstracts with their mentors.
  • For the first time, posters will be virtual. This will allow you to attend more live programming and still browse posters in the topic areas that interest you.

It has been our privilege to serve as your Program Chairs this year, and we are grateful to Dr. Martin Antony and the ABCT Board for entrusting us with these duties. We also want to thank Janice Svendsen for her administrative support and willingness to roll up her sleeves to help with the many tasks associated with program review and correspondence. We also would like to thank Drs. Alyssa Ward and Cameo Stanick (2019 Program Chair and Assistant) and Dr. Katharina Kircanski (Coordinator of Convention and Education Issues and 2017 Program Chair) for their support and guidance. This program comes to you via the substantial efforts of virtually hundreds of our members who have contributed to its creation. This includes the 2020 Program Committee, composed of over 280 members and 110 super reviewers, for their expertise, careful reviews, and flexibility during the peer review process. We simply would not have a convention without their dedication and service.

We also thank the chairs of the Convention and Education Issues Committee for their tireless work and exceptional job developing this year's excellent program: Brian Baucom (AMASS Chair), Christina Boisseau (Workshops Chair), Courtney Benjamin Wolk (Master Clinician Seminars Chair), Cole Hooley (Research & Professional Development Chair), Samantha Farris (Institutes Chair), and Gregory Chasson (20201 Program Chair). We can't express enough appreciation for Mary Jane Eimer and the Central Office team-most especially the unflappable Stephen Crane-who gracefully and thoughtfully worked to develop the best convention possible under unprecedented circumstances and tremendous uncertainty. Finally, we are forever grateful to our families, who have been so loving and tolerant of the time and work that went into the development of this convention.

We hope that you experience this as an engaging convention that inspires new scientific collaborations that increase our collective impact! Thanks for joining us this year.

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