Brett J. Deacon, Ph.D., University of Wollongong
I hope to see you in Chicago for ABCT's 49th Annual Convention! The Hilton Chicago is perfectly situated just blocks from Lake Michigan and some of the Windy City's best museums, parks, shopping, restaurants, and nightlife. Our Local Arrangements Committee, co-chaired by Patrick McGrath and Shona Vas, will help you experience the best Chicago has to offer!
The theme of this year's meeting is "Improving Dissemination by Promoting Empirically Supported Principles of Psychopathology and Change." Cognitive and behavioral researchers have identified mechanisms that cause and maintain psychological problems, as well as interventions that target these mechanisms. Although CBT research in recent decades has emphasized treatment manuals for DSM-defined mental disorders, effective disorder-specific protocols remain underutilized. An appealing alternative approach to dissemination is to promote empirically supported principles of psychopathology and change that conceptualize psychological problems not as disorders, but rather as the product of cognitive and behavioral processes. Accordingly, the focus of the 49th ABCT convention includes presentations that highlight principles of psychopathology and change, identify novel and effective strategies for their dissemination, and critically examine the DSM-based paradigm that has come to dominate cognitive and behavioral science and practice.
Journalist Robert Whitaker will kick off our theme this year with his invited address, "Anatomy of an Epidemic: The History and Science of a Failed Paradigm of Care," in which he will review evidence in support of the provocative conclusion that the DSM-based biomedical paradigm has failed. This conclusion, and the possibility of a paradigm shift, will be further explored in a panel discussion where Whitaker will be joined by Steven Hayes, Dean McKay, and Brett Deacon. Next, Carolyn Becker from Trinity University will discuss her groundbreaking efforts to disseminate the Body Project, an empirically supported eating disorders prevention program, in a presentation titled, "From Bench to Global Impact: Lessons Learned About Translating Research to Reach."
Scott Lilienfeld from Emory University will present "The Brave New World of the Brain: Promises and Perils for Clinical Psychology," in which he will explore the increasing influence of neuroscience on psychology, especially clinical psychology. Next, Art Houts from the University of Memphis (emeritus) will critically examine the history, validity, and future of the DSM diagnostic system in "The Diagnostic and Statistical Manuals of Mental Disorders as Instruments of Cultural Propaganda." Finally, in his presidential address, "Are the Obsessive-Compulsive Related Disorders Related to Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder? A Critical Look at DSM-5's New Category," Jonathan Abramowitz shows us how cognitive-behavioral science can be used to police a contentious conceptual boundary.
In a testament to ABCT's vitality and influence, we received the largest number of submissions to date (more than 2,300!). These were reviewed by a record number of program committee volunteers. This year's convention features a terrific line-up of presentations contributing to this year's theme and covering cutting-edge advances in cognitive-behavioral research and practice.
I am extremely grateful to President Jonathan Abramowitz and the ABCT Board for giving me the opportunity to serve as Program Chair. It has been an honor and privilege to organize this convention alongside many other dedicated individuals who share my love for ABCT and commitment to its principles. First, I would like to thank the members of the 2015 Program Review Committee for their expertise, diligence, and flexibility. This year's program would not have been possible without their efforts. Second, the chairs of the Convention and Education Planning Committee did a truly exceptional job-as usual-with this year's program: David Atkins (AMASS), Jeff Goodie (CIT), Barbara Kamholz (Workshops), Sarah Kertz (Master Clinician Seminars), and Lauren Weinstock (Institutes). Jeff, who also served as the Coordinator of Convention and Education Issues, deserves special thanks for his leadership as we navigated several unique challenges this year. Finally, I am extremely thankful for the invaluable assistance of two people in particular. Linda Still, Director of Education and Meeting Services, joined me in a "trial by fire" this year, and I could not have succeeded without her tireless support and guidance. Last but definitely not least, I would like to thank my exceptional Assistant Program Chair and graduate student, Johanna Meyer, who has been a cornerstone throughout this process. I couldn't have asked for a more capable, committed, and flexible partner in this process. Thank you, Linda and Johanna!
Best wishes to you all, and I look forward to seeing you in Chicago!