Welcome Message from President Jill Ehrenreich-May

Dear Colleagues,

It is a true joy and my distinct pleasure to welcome you to ABCT’s 57th Annual Convention in Seattle, Washington. Before I highlight several opportunities to engage with your friends and colleagues at ABCT’s Annual Convention, I would like to acknowledge that this November, our convention will take place on the traditional land of the Coast Salish people, including the Suquamish People and Duwamish People, past and present. We honor with gratitude the land itself, the Duwamish Tribe, and the Squamish Nation. I would like to clarify that this land acknowledgment does not take the place of authentic relationships with Indigenous communities but is meant as a first step to honor the land on which our convention will take place.

ABCT has undergone a significant reflection and action period over the past 2 years to craft our organization and, by proxy, our Annual Convention as a more welcoming, diverse, and inclusive space to learn and engage with the very best in clinical science and practice. This year’s convention theme, “Cultivating Joy With CBT,” communicates a sincere welcome to all of our members, both new and returning, and a direct invitation to experience and cultivate their own joy in our spaces: the joy that comes with spending time with cherished colleagues, learning from each other, establishing fresh connections or renewing existent ties in our field, and making new, lasting memories. The last several years have been challenging for myriad reasons – the world has experienced unprecedented illness and divisiveness, and many persons feel exhausted, marginalized, and/or lonely. In crafting a moment to experience joy with our colleagues, we in no way minimize these struggles and real problems in the world, but rather, we offer a space for learning, respite, and renewal.

I wish to extend my heartfelt gratitude to 2023 ABCT Program Chair, Dr. Emily Bilek, and Associate Program Chair, Dr. Krystal Lewis. They, along with the entire ABCT Convention Committee, led Dr. Christina Boisseau, have done tireless work to craft a well-balanced, thoughtful series of invited talks, plus 29 ticketed sessions, 23 mini-workshops, 150 symposium, 32 panels, 3 grand rounds, and poster presentations in 13 poster sessions that reflect a wide diversity of interests and perspectives across clinical science and practice. I praise the Program Chairs for their transparency in continuing a tradition started last year to share data on their decision-making process related to convention submissions and acceptances in the Behavior Therapist. I also want to thank the Hyatt Regency Seattle for being a sensitive and engaged partner in hosting this Annual Convention. And, no expression of gratitude would be complete without acknowledging the incredible service of our ABCT Central Office staff in forging this convention, and Stephen Crane, in particular. Stephen, along with the entire Central Office staff, put an enormous amount of time, attention, and careful work into the planning and execution of this meeting. I am grateful to them for their effort and excellence.

This year’s invited talks reflect an exciting array of speakers sure to provoke thought and challenge your ideas about clinical science and its relative impact on the world. In terms of keynote addresses, 2023 American Psychological Association President, and winner of this year’s Charles Silverstein Lifetime Achievement Social Justice Award, Dr. Thema S. Bryant, Professor of Education and Psychology at Pepperdine University, will speak on how trauma-informed, culturally attuned practices can be cultivated to help move our domain forward. Dr. Bryant will be presented with the Silverstein Award at the outset of her keynote address on Saturday afternoon at the convention.

Dr. Michelle Craske, Distinguished Professor of Psychology, and of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences and Kevin Love Fund Centennial Chair at University of California, Los Angeles, whose groundbreaking work on inhibitory learning has fundamentally improved cognitive and behavioral practice, will share more of her outstanding work central to our convention theme regarding how reward sensitivity may act as both a risk factor and a treatment target for anxiety and depression. Dr. Michael Southam-Gerow, Professor and Psychology Department Chair at Virginia Commonwealth University, will speak on how implementation science can aid perhaps our biggest current mental health service challenge—increasing access to high-quality, evidence-based services given the low number of providers available to meet overwhelming demand. I strongly encourage you to not miss keynote speaker, Dr. Wilson Kwamogi Okello, Assistant Professor from Penn State University, on the Sunday morning of our convention.

Dr. Okello is a very exciting spoken-word artist and scholar exploring how Black critical theories can advance research on youth and young adult development that will speak on the complicated nature and cultivation of joy in the context of power, privilege, and oppression. Last, but certainly not least, Dr. Dean Kilpatrick, Professor of Clinical Psychology from Medical University of South Carolina, Director of the National Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center, and the Director of the National Mass Violence Victimization Resource Center, will present his Lifetime Achievement Award address detailing his many lessons learned from almost 50 years of research, clinical work, policy engagement, and service to aid those experiencing traumatic stress.

Several of our other featured presentations reflect innovations and new directions in our convention programming. Our invited panel, “Affirmative Care Across Domains,” will be moderated by Dr. Donte Bernard, University of Missouri, and aims to bring panelists from diverse backgrounds and expertise across a range of populations (including Drs. Ashleigh Coser, Cherokee Nation Behavioral Health; Melissa Anderson, UMass Chan Medical School; Alexander Wilkins, UMass Chan Medical School; Isha Metzger, Georgia State University; Susan White, University of Alabama; and John Pachankis, Yale School of Public Health) to discuss challenges faced by historically marginalized populations in accessing quality mental health services, as well as service delivery approaches that help mitigate barriers to service access.

In addition, Dr. Rosaura Orengo-Aguayo, Medical University of South Carolina, last year’s ABCT Program Chair, will present the first ever ABCT convention presentation that is not in English. Her Clinical Grand Rounds presentation, Implementación de la Terapia Cognitiva Conductual-Enfocada en Trauma en Latino América y el Caribe (Implementation of Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in Latin America and the Caribbean), will be presented in Spanish, with simultaneous translation to English available to attendees.

Another invited panel will also be presented to discuss the process and outcomes from a review of published articles that include content on sexual orientation and gender identity/expression change efforts in ABCT’s journal Behavior Therapy. This panel will be led by Behavior Therapy’s Editor-in-Chief, Dr. Jonathan S. Comer, Florida International University, and members of its Editorial Task Force (including Drs. John E. Pachankis, Yale School of Public Health; Richard T. LeBeau, Lyra Health; Diane Chen, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, Northwestern University; and David A. Langer, Suffolk University). Our other Clinical Grand Rounds will feature an interactive and exciting DBT live demonstration from Drs. Maureen Zalewski, University of Oregon; Vibh Forsythe Cox, University of Washington; Alison Yaeger, McLean Hospital; and Aditi Vijay, Kean University. Those that have been to ISITDBT’s live demonstrations in the past know that their presentations are incredibly educational, normally “standing room only,” and not to be missed. We know that each of these invited presentations will hold tremendous value and interest to the membership.

This year, we have also changed the format of the Annual Meeting of Members. Typically, this meeting acknowledges the incredible service provided by our members to the organization, reviews updates from ABCT’s committees, and conducts transitions in ABCT leadership. However, we will abbreviate those activities this year to allow time for discussion of the report by BARE Mental Health and Wellness regarding ABCT’s handing of diversity, equity, inclusion, access, and justice issues, and subsequent actions from ABCT leadership in this domain. Drs. Jessica Lo-Presti and Tahirah Abdullah-Swain from BARE, along with myself and incoming ABCT President, Dr. Sandra Pimentel, will utilize this time to answer questions about BARE’s report (published on the ABCT website) and ABCT’s response to it.

After much thought, I also elected to change the format of this year’s Presidential Address. I have been incredibly honored to serve as your ABCT President this year and am also proud of my own research on youth mental health interventions. I honor the history of impactful presidential addresses in our organization’s past. It has also been my privilege to dedicate my presidential term to improving the degree to which you, as ABCT members, feel that you belong in this organization, can experience joy here, and that, no matter your background, identity, degree type, or work environment, you can see yourself as an ABCT leader in the future.

To that end, I will be using the time normally dedicated to this Presidential Address to instead moderate an exciting Presidential Panel. This panel will feature an array of rising stars in children’s mental health research and practice, thought-provoking “flash talks” on innovative ideas to help address the steadily rising numbers of youth suffering without any evidence-based mental health care, and a lively discussion on next steps to address this crisis. To that end, I am personally beyond excited to share the stage for this first-ever Presidential Panel with Drs. Riana Elyse Anderson, Columbia University and Harvard University; Miya Barnett, University of California, Santa Barbara; Rob Morris, Koko; Maggi Price, Boston College; Jessica Schleider, Northwestern University; and Shirley Wang, Harvard University.

While your Program Chairs and I have outlined just a few of the many exciting presentations you can attend at this year’s ABCT convention, we also encourage you to please take a few minutes to seek what makes you feel joyful at this meeting. Talk with your colleagues. Make a new friend. Go to a presentation about something completely new and different. Take a few minutes to get some fresh air or join a group activity.

Whatever you choose to learn and do with us in Seattle, I speak for the ABCT Board of Directors and our entire central office team when I say that we are incredibly glad and deeply honored to be with you during our 57th Annual Convention.

Jill Ehrenreich-May, Ph.D.
ABCT President

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