The Roots of EABCT 2016 – the beginning

Dear friends of CBT,

when the theme of the 2016 EABCT congress in Stockholm was decided, all of us in the organizing committee agreed that it would be great if the congress could help show the state of CBT today, how it came to be that way, and where CBT seems to be going in the future. We decided upon the theme “Roots and present branches of CBT”, and as the congress is drawing nearer, we are more and more convinced that it will be an immersive experience showcasing the best of current CBT research and practice, as well as telling the stories of CBT history. I’m writing stories in plural, because the past can be an almost dizzying concept where a multitude of stories and experiences have to be combined in order to understand something as complex as the birth and development of CBT. There are stories of science and scientific theory, stories of groundbreaking research and of excellent clinicians. But, the history of CBT can also be told as a vast amount of personal stories, stories about how individuals came to be interested in CBT and then part of the CBT movement. The histories of CBT are also social stories about the forming of associations, of companies and of research groups, stories of collaboration and conflict.

In this blog, started a 100 days before the EABCT2016 congress, we will trace the roots of how the congress came to be, and tell the stories about how the congress has been planned. I hope it will amuse and inspire!

The starting point I have chosen is late August 2011, and the place is Tynningö, an island in the Stockholm archipelago.  But, where are my manners, I seem to have forgotten to introduce myself! My name is Björn Paxling, and I’m the president of the organizing committee of the EABCT2016 congress. When I think back to late August 2011, I’m struck with how much was happening in my life at the time. This was six months after I had been elected president of the Swedish Association of Behaviour Therapy (SABT), on month before my first child was born, and two months before I defended my PhD-thesis at Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam. But all of those are different stories, as we are here to focus on the congress. On August 26-28 2011, the SABT-board were having a weekend meeting at Ljungbergsgården  at Tynningö. As usual we worked on a wide range of association issues, as well as having a great social time together. The photo below is taken on Saturday the 27th after a long day of work meetings, just before a dinner.


SABT board late august 2011

From left to right: Anders, Iman, Torun, Dan, Mats, Maria, Tove, Björn, Kerstin, Kaj and Olof.

 During the weekend at Ljungbergsgården, one of the decisions we took stand out as particularly important. We decided to greatly extend and expand our collaboration with the other major CBT association in Sweden, the Swedish Association for Cognitive and Behavioural Therapies (SACBT). Our two associations share a long history (it was about 40 years since the founding of SABT at the time and 25 years for SACBT), but one could hardly say that collaboration had been a defining part of that history, at least not until more recent years. The president of SABT before me was Viktor Kaldo, and together with the previous president of SACBT, Cecilia Svanborg, he had taken some major steps towards better relations between the associations in the spirit of collaboration under the CBT umbrella. Together with the current president of SACBT, Poul Perris, I wanted to bring our associations even closer. So, the decision we took during this weekend was to extend the collaboration further by arranging a national CBT conference as well as investigate the possibility of arranging the EABCT congress in Sweden together. In order to do his, our associations decided not to be an active part any longer of the recurring national Psychotherapy Fair in Sweden. We were able to sync these decisions since the SACBT board were having a working weekend at the same time, so we had telephone contact during the breaks to check in on how the discussions were proceeding in the other board. Little did we know how much reactions these decisions would lead to, or how much work we had taken upon ourselves…


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