Well, in hindsight, we were overly optimistic. Admittedly, our original ABCT convention welcome message has not aged well. The ABCT Board has decided to shift the hybrid convention in November to a fully virtual format to maximize the health and safety of its members. This is a disappointing—albeit understandable—decision for many members and the Board. Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait a bit longer before we can meet up at Café Du Monde or Preservation Hall. But, as they say in NOLA, “Laissez les bon temps roulez!!” So even though we can’t be there in person, you can always get into the NOLA Spirit and support their local economy by sipping Café Du Monde coffee, eating beignets and savoring pecan pralines in the comfort of your own home while enjoying the rich convention program in your pajama pants.
Unchanged from the hybrid convention format, the theme of the 55th annual ABCT convention in New Orleans is “Championing CBT: Promoting Cognitive and Behavioral Practice and Science in the Context of Public Health, Social Justice, Policy, Research, Practice, and Training.” To highlight aspects of the theme, we are pleased to welcome three esteemed speakers and an invited panel for the convention. First, past ABCT president (1988-89) and Director of the World Food Policy Center, Dr. Kelly Brownell from Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy will highlight the policy and research component of the convention theme. Second, Canada Research Chair for Mental Health Disparities at the University of Ottawa’s School of Psychology, Dr. Monnica Williams, will target the social justice aspect of the convention theme by highlighting ways to reduce racism in cognitive-behavioral interventions and training. Third, the Senior Director of Practice Transformation and Quality for the American Psychological Association (APA), Dr. Lynn Bufka, will provide insights on the APA practice and policy elements of the convention theme. Last, the three addresses will be complemented by an invited panel sponsored by ABCT’s Adopting Neurocognitive Methods for the Clinic Think Tank and the Neurocognitive Therapies and Translational Research SIG, chaired by Dr. Angela Fang, and moderated by Dr. Judy Illes. Among other objectives, the panel aims to (1) “describe historical and ongoing barriers that have limited the application of neuroscientific techniques to study mental health disparities in minoritized populations,” and (2) “develop an up-to-date conceptualization of how translational neuroscience could serve minoritized stakeholders from bench to bedside.” Rounding out the scientific program is an address on the nature and treatment of emotion dysregulation in social anxiety from last year’s recipient of the ABCT Lifetime Achievement Award, past ABCT president (2001-02) Dr. Richard Heimberg.
Completing the scientific program for the convention was a considerable challenge, in large part because of the substantial number of high-quality submissions. There is clearly no shortage of innovative and impactful work being done in our field. Indeed, it has been a tremendous privilege to learn about all of the creative and significant projects being carried out. Alas, not all submissions could be accepted into the program given resource limitations. Our decisions for the program were guided by the peer review process, fit with the convention theme, and balance of various topics and their representation. For example, no doubt because of the timing of the submission process, we received such a large pool of COVID-related submissions that we could have assembled an entire second convention just on this topic alone. We balanced the need for COVID programming with the need for including non-COVID content. Additionally, continuing the trend from previous ABCT conventions—and in line with ongoing societal shifts pertaining to social justice and ABCT’s growing effort to enhance diversity, inclusion, and equity—the scientific program for this year is replete with content intended to facilitate this critical dialogue and action.
We feel honored to serve as your Program Chairs for the 2021 convention. Many thanks to current President Dr. David Tolin and the ABCT Board of Directors for giving us this opportunity. ABCT Central Office staff, especially Mary Jane Eimer and Stephen Crane, have been indispensable throughout this process; we literally could not have done this without you—thank you! Thanks to Grayson Highfield for her assistance with administrative support. We also extend our appreciation to past Program Chairs for the wisdom and resources (Drs. Shannon Wiltsey Stirman, Dan Cheron, Alyssa Ward, Kiara Timpano, Jordana Muroff, and Katharina Kircanski). Dr. Katharina Kircanski gets an extra note of appreciation because of her [often thankless] role as the ABCT Coordinator of Convention and Education Issues, or, in other words, the glue that binds the entirety of the convention each year. We would also like to acknowledge the many Chairs and participants of the Convention and Education Issues Committee for the insights, meeting laughs, and hard work shaping this convention: Drs. Brian Baucom (AMASS), Christina Boisseau (Workshops), Samantha Farris (Institutes), Cole Hooley (Research & Professional Development), Tajal Jakatdar (Master Clinician Seminars), Amanda Raines (Local Arrangements Chair), Patrick McGrath (Sponsorship), Rosaura Orengo-Aguayo (2022 Program Chair), and Emily Kroska (2022 Associate Program Chair). Special thanks to Shireen Rizvi, our Board Liaison. Last, but certainly not least, we extend our deepest thanks to the hundreds of Program Committee members who served as scientific reviewers for the convention, with an extra thanks to those who stepped up as super reviewers. The scientific program was shaped by your critical contribution.
We’re excited to see everyone at the virtual convention and look forward to meeting in person in New York City in 2022.
Gregory S. Chasson, Ph.D.
Elizabeth C. Katz, Ph.D.
Associate Program Chair