Welcome (back)!

The 2021 ABCT convention in New Orleans is not a mirage. We repeat, the 2021 ABCT convention in New Orleans is not a mirage. Come November, ABCT will resume in-person convention activities. We are planning for a hybrid-based convention that provides a rich and full array of in-person events plus limited remote broadcasting of content for those who wish to stay distant. ABCT is diligently examining the evolving COVID trends, as well as local, state, and federal safety guidelines. We are prepared to shift the content delivery as needed. That being said, based on current trends, we are optimistically mapping out the liveliest walking path from the Hyatt Regency to Bourbon Street and Café Du Monde (after all, beignets = primary reinforcer). Hopefully, the only masks we’ll need are of the Mardi Gras variety. By the way, keep an eye out for some truly exceptional New Orleans tips from the 2021 Local Arrangements Chair, Dr. Amanda Raines.

The theme of the 55th ABCT Annual 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 part 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 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 this 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 space and time 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 their 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), Shireen Rizvi (Representative-at-Large), Patrick McGrath (Exhibit), Rosaura Orengo-Aguayo (2022 Program Chair), and Emily Kroska (2022 Associate Program Chair). 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 convention! Enjoy the scientific program, see familiar faces (hopefully in person!!!), energize the soul at the legendary Preservation Hall (arguably, traditional New Orleans jazz = primary reinforcer), and take a little time to experience The Big Easy.

Gregory S. Chasson, Ph.D.
Program Chair

Elizabeth C. Katz, Ph.D.
Associate Program Chair

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