Dear colleagues and friends,
Welcome to the 55th Annual Convention of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies (ABCT)! After the success of our fully virtual convention in 2020, we will again have a virtual convention in 2021. I want to acknowledge the thoughtful work of last year’s leadership team who successfully pivoted us to a virtual convention, including Past-President Martin Antony, 2020 Program Chair Shannon Wiltsey Stirman, 2020 Associate Program Chair Daniel Cheron, and ABCT Convention Manager Stephen Crane.
2020 taught me two important lessons about the ABCT Convention. The first lesson was that ABCT is a remarkably resilient organization, and one that is surprisingly nimble given its size. The fact that we have been able to offer virtual Conventions at all continues to amaze me. The second lesson was how deeply I missed the in-person interactions of the Convention. Many of us, myself included, had been hoping for an in-person Convention this year. However, two factors ultimately swayed the Board of Directors to vote to keep this year’s Convention virtual. The first factor was the safety of our members. As a science-based organization, we simply could not ignore the data about the delta variant of COVID-19, nor could we predict, with a reasonable degree of certainty, what the situation will be in November.
The second factor was equity of access for all members. Many of our members are prohibited from traveling or cannot obtain funding for travel. If we were to have a hybrid model with some in-person activities, the virtual component would necessarily be limited to a smaller selection of presentations, compared to the in-person component. Thus, some of our members, perhaps those with greater privilege or with better institutional support, would have greater access to content. Thus, by deciding to hold a virtual Convention, the Board assured equal access for all.
Looking forward to this November, I need to thank, first and foremost, our 2021 Program Chair Greg Chasson and our 2021 Associate Program Chair Elizabeth Katz. The work of an ABCT Program Chair and Associate Program Chair is Herculean, and I am deeply indebted to them. I also want to thank the work of Katharina Kircanski, our Convention and Education Issues Coordinator and the committee chairs that report to her; Drs. Brian Baucom, Christina Boisseau, Samantha Farris, Cole Hooley, Tajal Jakatdar, Amanda Raines, Patrick McGrath, Rosaura Orengo-Aguayo, and Emily Kroska along with Shireen Rizvi, their Board liaison.
This year’s convention theme will be Championing CBT: Promoting Cognitive and Behavioral Practice and Science in the Context of Public Health, Social Justice, Policy, Research, Practice, and Training. Be sure to look for invited addresses on this topic by Drs. Kelly Brownell, Monnica Williams, and Lynn Bufka; an invited panel sponsored by ABCT’s Adopting Neurocognitive Methods for the Clinic Think Tank and the Neurocognitive Therapies and Translational Research SIG; and a Lifetime Achievement Award address by past ABCT president Dr. Richard Heimberg. You can read more about these offerings in the Welcome Message by Drs. Chasson and Katz.
Perhaps, like me, you have been coming to ABCT Convention for many years and consider it an annual “homecoming” of sorts. Alternatively, perhaps you’ve never been with us before, and this is your first opportunity to check us out. In either case, my sincere hope is that you will find Convention to be a welcoming, inclusive, intellectually stimulating experience that you’ll want to repeat year after year. I want to extend a special welcome to new attendees from terminal master’s degree programs in the greater New Orleans area who may be joining us for the first time. I hope you’ll take this opportunity to see all that ABCT has to offer.
David F. Tolin, Ph.D.