Welcome Message from Convention Chairs
Rosaura Orengo-Aguayo, Ph.D. (she/her/ella), Program Chair
National Crime Victims Research & Treatment Center, Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, Medical University of South Carolina
Emily B.K. Thomas, Ph.D. (she/her), Associate Program Chair
Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, The University of Iowa
It is with great enthusiasm that we, your ABCT 2022 Program Chairs, welcome you to ABCT’s 56th Annual Convention in New York City! As we write this message in July 2022, we are hopeful that we can once again gather in person safely for our Annual Convention. The past two years have been incredibly challenging for many. Some of us will carry both the joy of gathering with esteemed colleagues and friends and the sadness of those we have lost. For many students, this will be the first time attending a professional conference in person. And for others, it will not be possible to attend due to the continuation of this pandemic and concerns about health and safety. ABCT’s priority is to hold a safe event based on CDC guidance, federal, state, and local regulations applicable at the time of the event, as well as what ABCT deems necessary to manage the risk for its event attendees. Some of the most salient measures being taken are the requirement of proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 and required mask wearing. We encourage attendees to read and adhere to ABCT’s full COVID-19 protocol on the convention webpage, while being mindful that engaging in these behaviors will protect our community. May we embrace the cutting-edge science and wonderful presentations in this year’s program, while creating a safe space for all who attend.
ABCT’s 56th convention theme is Emergency & Disaster Preparedness and Response: Using Cognitive and Behavioral Science to Make an Impact. The COVID-19 pandemic revealed incredible strengths and formidable weaknesses in our preparedness and response to a global health emergency. Concurrently, additional emergencies, epidemics, and syndemics were revealed, some of which were caused or exacerbated by COVID-19, and others were longstanding but became more apparent (e.g., mass shootings, hate-based crimes, increase in suicide, substance use, mental health disorders, rise in disasters due to climate change). This year’s convention will spotlight research that helps us answer the question of where we are in developing the robust theory and sound science to be able to respond to health emergencies, epidemics, and syndemics that we face. Do we know enough about the mechanisms of action and essential ingredients of our interventions so that we can quickly develop, adapt, and deploy cognitive and behavioral interventions to prepare and respond? Do we have the public health systems and evidence-based policies in place to recognize mental/public health emergencies and respond to them effectively? Do we have evidence-based ways to communicate the evidence for cognitive and behavioral interventions to the public and policymakers to effect change? Are we equipping current and future professionals with the necessary tools to respond to disasters? Finally, do we have the contingencies in our field to encourage this kind of science?
Our invited addresses and panels will feature some of the world’s leading experts in these topics, some of whom will be bringing new voices and perspectives to ABCT. Melissa Brymer, Ph.D., Psy.D., Director of the Terrorism and Disaster Program at the UCLA/Duke University National Center for Child Traumatic Stress, will contextualize the youth mental health crisis within an era of mass violence and disasters. Cheryl L. Holder, M.D., Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity, Inclusivity and Community Initiatives at Florida International University, will bring light to the impact of climate change on health disparities. Carmen D. Zorrilla, M.D., Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine, will present on the COVID-19 Public Health Response in Puerto Rico, resulting in the highest vaccination rate in the U.S. Enola Proctor, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, Washington University in St. Louis, will highlight the crucial role of implementation science in emergency and disaster response moving forward. ABCT 2021 Lifetime Achievement Award winner, Dr. Patricia Resick, will speak to us about Cognitive Processing Therapy for PTSD, its history and its future.
In addition to our impressive keynote speakers, this year we will have three invited panels with multidisciplinary experts from our field and beyond: (1) “Psychological Science’s Role in Addressing Mental, Physical and Social Health Epidemics: A Call to Action”; (2) “Open Science: The Future of Psychology”; and (3) “(Non-Traditional) Funding Mechanisms for Behavioral Science Research,” which will bring together NIH and PCORI program officers and division directors. Be sure to check out more in-depth descriptions on the ABCT 2022 convention page.
We will also have a rich program including 138 symposia, 31 panels, 15 clinical round tables, 4 spotlight research, and 1,002 poster presentations encompassing diverse topics of interest for all ABCT members: suicide and self-injury; disaster mental health; addictive behaviors; racial trauma; LGBTQ+; telehealth/mHealth; dissemination & implementation science; psychotic disorders; autism spectrum and developmental disorders; trauma and stressor-related disorders; culture, race, and ethnicity; oppression and resilience minority health; and child maltreatment, anxiety, depression, and ADHD. Importantly, this is in no way an exhaustive list and represents some of our more frequently selected submission topics for the convention.
Of note, in accordance with President Seligman’s core theme of transparency this year, we held a series of town halls to elicit feedback from membership on convention submissions and decisions, incorporated this feedback into actionable steps, and used a data-driven approach to make program decisions. Of the 1,638 submissions, 1,189 were accepted. Decisions were difficult due to space constraints at the convention hotel and the many excellent submissions that were received this year. Please be on the lookout for a detailed report in the September issue of the Behavior Therapist, for more information on the peer review and decision-making process. In particular, we conducted analyses to answer questions from membership about whether authors who identify as part of an underrepresented or minoritized identity are less likely to have their submissions accepted. We extend our sincere gratitude to all ABCT members and SIG leaders who attended these town halls and/or reached out individually to us to share their concerns and constructive feedback. We hope this will serve as a foundation for future ABCT program chairs to continue to improve upon.
It has been an honor to serve as ABCT’s 56th Annual Convention Program Chairs this year. ABCT has been one of our main professional homes since we both began graduate school and it has helped us grow as scientists and clinicians, promoted fruitful collaborations, and inspired new projects and ideas. Most importantly, serving in this role has allowed us to meet and collaborate with amazing colleagues across the nation with whom we would not have otherwise connected. It has been a lot of work, and it has helped us move toward our values of transparency, collaboration, and service.
We wish to thank President Dr. Laura Seligman for her incredible support, vision, and encouragement and Mrs. Susan Kroska for offering excellent technical assistance and support. We are grateful to the ABCT Board of Directors for supporting our new ideas and proposals and the ABCT Central Office staff, Mary Jane Eimer (Executive Director), Stephen Crane (Convention Manager), and Dakota McPherson (Membership and Marketing Manager) for providing much needed technical assistance and guidance. We also are grateful to the past Program Chairs (Dr. Gregory S. Chasson and Dr. Elizabeth C. Katz) for their helpful guidance and consultation. This program would not be possible without the vision and hard work of the chairs and volunteers of the Convention and Education Issues Committee: Dr. Katharina Kircanski (Convention and Education Issues Coordinator) and Dr. Christina (Tina) Boisseau (Workshops Committee Chair & Interim Coordinator of Convention and Educations Issues), Dr. Samantha Farris (Institutes Chair), Dr. Tejal Jakatdar (Master Clinician Seminar Chair), Dr. Amanda Raines (Research and Professional Development Chair), Dr. Patrick McGrath (Sponsorship Chair), Dr. Miryam Yusufov (Advanced Methodology and Statistics Seminar Chair), Dr. Jason Duncan (Local Arrangements Chair), and Dr. Katherine (Katie) Baucom (Board Liaison to Convention and Education Issues). We additionally extend our deepest gratitude to the 200 Program Committee members who served as scientific peer reviewers for the convention, with an extra thanks to those who served as super reviewers. We would also like to acknowledge Dr. Jennifer Sumner and Dr. Sierra Carter, Program Chairs for the 2022 International Society of Traumatic Stress Studies (ISTSS), who graciously shared materials and exchanged ideas with us to help improve our process. Finally, a big shout-out to our incoming ABCT 57th Annual Convention Program Chairs, Dr. Emily Bilek and Dr. Krystal Lewis, who will taking the baton and leading us to Seattle in 2023!
Wishing everyone a safe and enriching ABCT Convention,
Rosaura Orengo-Aguayo, Ph.D.
Emily B.K. Thomas, Ph.D.
Associate Program Chair