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ABCT Convention Update: Virtual Format

Dear ABCT members,

After a spirited discussion, the board has decided that the ABCT convention in November will be virtual. There will be no on-site activities in New Orleans.

I know many of you will be disappointed in this news; some might even be angry. I will share that this was a heartbreaker for me as well. For me, the ABCT convention has always been about much more than the excellent symposia, panel discussions, posters, and so on. I look forward to seeing old friends and colleagues each year, and I enjoy the opportunity to make new connections. I will miss those aspects of the convention terribly.

I am also disappointed that we will be unable to contribute to the New Orleans economy after Hurricane Ida. I would like to thank our local arrangements chair Amanda Raines for all of her hard work, and I regret that we’ll be unable to see the best that New Orleans has to offer.

In the end, the decision was made because the health and safety of our convention attendees was paramount. As a science-based organization, we simply could not ignore the data about the delta variant of COVID-19, nor could we predict, within a reasonable degree of certainty, what the situation will be in November.

Issues of equity also weighed heavily in our decision making. The board was mindful of the fact that 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. This, then, highlights issues of equity: some of our members, perhaps those with greater privilege or with better institutional support, would have greater access to content, and this struck us as inherently unfair.

Now, I want to speak briefly to what the shift to a virtual convention means for the organization. As you may recall, last year’s convention was also virtual, and went off very smoothly, thanks in large part to the efforts of our convention manager, Stephen Crane. But that virtual conference came at a significant cost. In addition to the direct costs of putting on a virtual conference (which is substantial), and the significant penalties we faced from the hotel for the cancellation, our virtual convention last year had markedly lower attendance (about 1,000 fewer attendees) than the usual in-person convention. Relatedly, ABCT membership usually follows convention attendance– people tend to renew their membership when they are attending the convention, and often don’t renew if they are not attending. So membership is significantly down from previous years.  As a result, ABCT faced a significant financial hit last year. We had hoped that we could recover from that this year, but switching to a virtual convention in 2021 will again have significant financial repercussions. Taking into account all of the costs and expected decreased revenue for this year’s conference alone, we are currently looking at a deficit of close to $1 million.

This means that now, perhaps more than ever, ABCT needs you.  Specifically, I am inviting you to:

Attend the convention!

Even though it will be virtual, the lineup of speakers is fantastic, thanks to the work of our program chair Greg Chasson and associate program chair Liz Katz.

Renew your membership, even if you do not plan to attend the convention.

Membership is the lifeblood of ABCT, and gives you access to all that ABCT has to offer including webinar discounts, our prestigious journals, and more.

Refer a colleague or trainee to ABCT.

There’s never been a more opportune time to grow our membership.


I look forward to seeing you virtually in November, and (fingers crossed) in person next year.

As always, I remain happy to receive your questions and comments.


David F. Tolin, Ph.D., ABPP
Director, Anxiety Disorders Center, The Institute of Living
Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine
President, Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies
Phone: 860-545-7685
Fax: 860-545-7156
Email: [email protected]

Related Information

What Is Cognitive Behavior Therapy?

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a type of treatment that is based firmly on research findings.  It places emphasis on changing your cognitions (thoughts) or behaviors (actions) in order to effect change in how you feel. These approaches help people in achieving specific changes or goals.

Changes or goals might involve:

A way of acting: like smoking less or being more outgoing;
A way of feeling: like helping a person to be less scared, less depressed, or less anxious;
A way of thinking: like learning to problem-solve or get rid of self-defeating thoughts;
A way of dealing with physical or medical problems: like reducing back pain or helping a person stick to a doctor’s suggestions.

Cognitive behavioral therapists usually focus more on the current situation and its solution, rather than the past. They concentrate on a person’s views and beliefs about their life. CBT is an effective treatment for individuals, parents, children, couples, and families. The goal of CBT is to help people improve and gain more control over their lives by changing behaviors that don’t work well to ones that do.

How to Get Help

If you are looking for help, either for yourself or someone else, you may be tempted to call someone who advertises in a local publication or who comes up from a search of the Internet. You may, or may not, find a competent therapist in this manner. It is wise to check on the credentials of a psychotherapist. It is expected that competent therapists hold advanced academic degrees. They should be listed as members of professional organizations, such as the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies or the American Psychological Association. Of course, they should be licensed to practice in your state. You can find competent specialists who are affiliated with local universities or mental health facilities or who are listed on the websites of professional organizations. You may, of course, visit our website ( and click on “Find a CBT Therapist”

The Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies (ABCT) is an interdisciplinary organization committed to the advancement of a scientific approach to the understanding and amelioration of problems of the human condition. These aims are achieved through the investigation and application of behavioral, cognitive, and other evidence-based principles to assessment, prevention, and treatment.