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June 2014

President's Message: June 2014
McGinn
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      President's Message

        IACP Presidential Column

Advances in Cognitive Therapy

Lata K. McGinn, PhD

June 2014
 

As my three-year term as president of IACP draws to a close, it is inevitable that I reflect back on the last three years. I began my term as president at the 7th International Congress of Cognitive Psychotherapy (ICCP), chaired by IACP board member Mehmet Sungur in Istanbul, Turkey in 2011. I will end my term in June, 2014 at the closing ceremonies of the 8th International Congress of Cognitive Psychotherapy (ICCP), chaired by Wing Wong in Hong Kong. Although the global economy continues to be sluggish, a lot has changed in the world since 2011. The construction of the freedom tower was finally completed in my hometown in New York City, social media has changed our lives immeasurably both in good ways and bad, and the arctic sea melt has increased appreciably, leading to severe climactic changes in the world.

Our field has witnessed many changes as well. There are now close to 300 meta-analyses on CBT demonstrating that CBT is effective for a wide range of psychological problems and disorders. Additionally, Eastern philosophy has overwhelmingly influenced the latest advances in cognitive behavioral approaches. Constructs such as mindfulness, dialectical thinking, and acceptance are no longer waves that ebb and flow but are steady streams that influence how cognitive behavioral therapists approach treatment. Emerging research also offers new insights on the impact of therapists, therapy processes, and clients’ sociocultural and demographic factors on treatment, although research in these areas still lags behind technique-based approaches.

 Broader changes have also transpired over the last three years. Despite its waning influence over disease classification and treatment, the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual was published in 2013 amidst much fanfare and criticism. Although the codes are essentially the same, the International Classification of Diseases continues to exert a far greater influence across the globe than the DSM, and will also be officially used for billing purposes in the US by the end of 2014. More importantly, the year 2013 witnessed the launch of an alternative disease classification for purposes of research. Established by the National Institute of Mental Health in the US, the Research Domain Criteria (R-DoC) are intended to classify psychopathology based on dimensions of observable behavior and neurobiological measures rather than on categorical dimensions based on clinical observation and self-reported symptoms. The R-DoC project intends to draw on latest research across genomics, neuroscience, and behavioral science, and hopes to inform better approaches for clinical diagnosis and treatment in the future.

 The International Association of Cognitive Psychotherapy (IACP) has also undergone many changes since I began my term as president. Not least of all, IACP received a facelift as we successfully developed and launched our new logo and website, and our journal’s new electronic management portal. As president, my  goals were to increase IACP’s presence throughout the world and to disseminate CBT, particularly in regions of the world where CBT is under-represented. Our initiatives to offer a discounted membership rate for economically disadvantaged regions, and to offer free online training for our members were met with success. We now have over 40 countries represented in our membership and we have launched free training initiatives for our members. 

Under the direction of Henrik Tingleff, chair of IACP’s International Training Committee, IACP launched a speaker’s bureau and a monthly video newsletter for our members. Under John Riskind’s editorship, the quality and the impact factor of our scientific peer-reviewed journal, the International Journal of Cognitive Therapy, has climbed over the last three years. 

(continued)

David Dozois transformed our newsletter published jointly with the Academy of Cognitive Therapy, and has now placed it in the skillful hands of Simon Rego, who continues to offer excellent columns for our readers. With Lynn McFarr at the helm of our Public Domain Committee, IACP now has 2,354 members on our Facebook page and has a presence on twitter. Under Frank Dattilio’s direction and guidance, IACP successfully launched the International Delegate Program - we now have delegates from 25 countries, with more delegates being appointed each year. My sincere thanks go to Sharon Clevenger and Laura Stone for their able management of IACP operations, I wish them well as they move on from their roles. I also want to thank past-president Keith Dobson for his invaluable contributions to IACP as he leaves the board at the end of June after nine years of service

By the time you read this column, we will have returned from the 8th International Congress of Psychotherapy in Hong Kong, where conference attendees learned about the latest advances in CBT across the globe and mingled with each other. I want to extend my gratitude to Wing Wong and his extraordinary team for hosting our congress. It has been a pleasure working with him. I also want to thank Scientific Program Chair, Ron Rapee, and the scientific advisory team for putting together an excellent program at the Congress. It is my hope that over time every country will be represented within our membership and delegate program, and that IACP will continue to disseminate CBT to all its members. My goal is to build a truly inclusive world CBT organization that increases mutual and respectful understanding and dialogue between communities throughout the world.

IACP’s mission, to address the burden of mental illness by facilitating the growth of CBT as a scientific discipline and professional activity, is an important one. Although the R-DoC project includes behavioral sciences in its mandate, its clear emphasis is on using advances in genetics and neural basis of mental illness to inform classification and treatment. Despite the overabundance of research demonstrating efficacy of cognitive behavioral approaches, the influence of behavioral scientists in determining research funding and policy is marginal. As research funding begins to determine what we study as behavioral scientists, our field faces new and unforeseen challenges. Behavioral scientists and clinicians now have a clear mandate and need to work together to ensure that behavioral sciences are recognized, funded, and that advances in behavioral science are utilized to inform classification systems and treatment approaches.  Organizations like IACP have a responsibility to ensure that behavioral sciences have a voice in the emerging dialogue on alternative systems to understand and treat mental illness.

I want to thank IACP members and the board for giving me the opportunity to serve as president. I am honored to have led IACP over the past three years. As incoming past-president, I look forward to working with you on our new initiatives to potentially develop closer collaborations with the Academy of Cognitive Therapy, to build our new organizational membership category, and to launch further clinical training and research initiatives. I also look forward to seeing you at the 9th ICCP conference in Cluj-Napoca, Romania in 2017. I am delighted to pass the gavel and to extend a warm welcome to Stefan Hofmann, the incoming president of IACP.

 Sincerely,

Lata K. McGinn, PhD

President, IACP

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