Keynote & Invited Speakers 2019

Conference speakers

The National Conference Committee for the 40th AACBT National Conference is pleased to announce the following keynote & invited speakers, and they look forward to seeing you.

Professor Bogels and Professor Clark each present a 1-day workshop on Saturday (and throughout Australia prior to conference).

Professor Susan Bogels

University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Keynote Speaker

“Intergenerational transmission of anxiety disorders: Do parents matter (for some)?”

Professor Bogels will give an overview of the results of a longitudinal study on the role of fathers, mothers, and their interaction, in the development of anxiety and other symptoms of psychopathology of their firstborn children from prenatally until the age of 7 1/2 years.  We will look at parents own anxiety disorders, and the way they interact with their child separately and together as co-parents, and how that interacts with the child’s vulnerabilities and strengths (physiology, temperament, self-consciousness and mindreading), in order to predict child’s outcome over time. Specific critical periods in development for parental influence will be highlighted. The consequences of the findings for the prevention and treatment of child anxiety disorders are discussed. The research will be illustrated with video-examples of the tasks used.

Dr Susan Bögels is a clinical psychologist and psychotherapist, specialized in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and mindfulness training for children and their families. She works as professor in family mental health at the University of Amsterdam and as a mindfulness trainer and teacher trainer at the Center for Mindfulness in Amsterdam. She was the founder and for 10 years the director of UvA minds, an academic treatment clinic for parents and children in Amsterdam. Her main research themes are the intergenerational transmission of anxiety, and particularly the role of the father, and mindfulness training for parents and children. She has received many grants concerning RCTs on prevention and treatment programs for childhood mental disorders, and for implementation of these programs. Her fundamental and innovative research into the etiology of anxiety disorders was awarded with an Aspasia, Vidi and Vici personal grants for excellent researchers belonging in the top 5% of their research area by NWO. She has published over 200 scientific papers in international scientific journals, many chapters in national and international books, and 15 books. She is member of the anxiety disorders workgroup of the American Psychiatric Association for the DSM-5. She is associate editor the successful scientific journal Mindfulness.

Professor Emeritus David A Clark

University of New Brunswick, Canada

Keynote Speaker

“Is there anything new in CBT research and treatment of obsessions and compulsions?”

Some have argued that cognitive-behavioural theory, research and treatment of OCD is stagnant. Our treatment success has not improved significantly since the introduction of exposure and response prevention (ERP) 50 years ago. The basic appraisal model of OCD first articulated in the late 1980s has not changed appreciably in the last 20 years, and much of the basic research has already been published. So, it’s easy to see why you might think there is nothing new to learn about CBT for OCD. The objective of this keynote address is to change your mind. I will examine some of the newest concepts introduced into the cognitive perspectives such as reassurance seeking, not just right experience, stop criteria, inferential confusion and mental contamination. As well, some of the most exciting developments in CBT for OCD is evident in subtype treatment protocols for mental contamination, pathological doubt, repugnant obsessions and order/symmetry compulsions. As you will see, fresh insights and innovative approaches to the treatment of obsessions and compulsions are being promulgated by a new generation of OCD researchers and clinicians.

David A. Clark, PhD, is Professor Emeritus, Department of Psychology, University of New Brunswick, Canada and a practicing clinical psychologist with 30+ years in providing cognitive behavioural treatment for OCD. He received his PhD from the Institute of Psychiatry and pursued postdoctoral work at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School under Professor Aaron T. Beck. He has maintained an active research program on the cognitive features of depression, anxiety and OCD and continues to provide advanced CBT workshops globally. He is a Fellow of the Canadian Psychological Association, Founding Fellow/Trainer Consultant of the Academy of Cognitive Therapy, ad hoc consultant with the Beck Institute and recipient of the Aaron T. Beck Award in 2008. He has co-authored several publications with Prof. Beck including Cognitive Therapy for Anxiety Disorders (Guilford, 2010)**, and The Anxiety and Worry Workbook (Guilford, 2012)**. He is sole author of The Mood Repair Toolkit (Guilford, 2014)** and Controlling Your Mind: A Workbook for Depression, Anxiety and Obsessions (Robinson, 2018). A comprehensive revision his 2004 OCD handbook is scheduled for release in November 2019 and retitled Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for OCD and Its Subtypes (Guilford Press)**. He is currently writing another workbook on repetitive negative thoughts due for publication in 2020 (New Harbinger Publications).

** AACBT Members receive a 20% discount off all titles, plus free delivery within Australia, via Footprint Books.

Emeritus Professor Leon Lack

Flinders University

Invited Speaker – Master Clinician Session

“Treatment of insomnia: The latest cognitive and behavioural therapies”

Sleep Disorders is a health problem that, in the past, has not drawn the attention of Psychologists but is now rapidly becoming an area of therapeutics for Psychology. The treatment of insomnia, the most prevalent sleep disorder, is particularly ripe for the picking.

At present, insomnia sufferers usually seek professional help from medical practitioners who, despite most medical guidelines recommending non-drug treatments, almost always prescribe hypnotic medications. These medications may provide limited quick symptomatic relief but cause problems and no cure for the insomnia in the long term.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for insomnia (CBTi) is recommended in all medical guidelines with a very strong scientific evidential basis for its long term effectiveness. Psychologists are the health professionals best placed from their training and Medicare support through Mental Health Care Plans to treat insomnia with CBTi.

However, psychologists need to take care in its application to insomnia treatment. The behavioural, rather than cognitive therapies, are the most consistently effective elements of CBTi and should always be included early in the suite of therapeutic elements making up the total package. Cognitive therapy in a broader sense of sleep education can be very useful. However, the typical cognitive therapy strategy of trying to change maladaptive beliefs about the negative consequences of a poor sleep may be counterproductive rather than helpful.

The talk will introduce a new behavioural therapy, Intensive Sleep Re-training, that can be administered at home with mobile phone apps and promises to be a very effective treatment, particularly for sleep onset difficulties. Bright light therapy also has research support for insomnias with a circadian rhythm mis-timing component. Other new therapeutic developments will also be discussed.

Professor Leon Lack received degrees from Stanford University and the University of Adelaide and since 1972 has been at Flinders University School of Psychology teaching and conducting research in the areas of sleep, circadian rhythms, bright light therapy and insomnia. He has received many large research grants and published over 130 books, chapters, and articles. Since 1992 he has also directed the non-drug treatment program for insomnia at the Adelaide Institute for Sleep Health. He has integrated his teaching, research, clinical practice, public education roles, and commercial developments in an attempt to ameliorate the problem of insomnia in our society.

Professor David Kavanagh

Queensland University of Technology

Invited Speaker – Plenary Session

“e-mental health and problems from substance use”

While recent digital investments have often focused on anxiety and depression, there is a surprisingly long and successful history of remote delivery of CBT for substance use. This paper summarises some of the evidence on addressing substance-related problems by older media (phone, audio recordings, mailed letters) and by web programs and apps, and looks at parallels, issues and lessons that can be learned from each. Familiar issues from other domains—e.g. generating and maintaining engagement and whether therapist support is needed—are also relevant here. In particular, generating and maintaining engagement for early intervention has always presented significant challenges for addiction practitioners, and solutions to these issues in substance use and other problem domains can inform each other. The range of problems that tend to co-occur with excessive substance use forces addiction practitioners to consider how to address this complexity—both digital and face-to-face research can help to answer this question, and the answer may have broad application. The paper briefly summarises characteristics practitioners should look for in identifying digital resources for clients with substance-related problems, and how they may be integrated into clinical practice.

Professor David Kavanagh is a clinical psychology researcher at Queensland University of Technology who has over 40 years of experience as a practitioner and researcher and currently chairs the Queensland Mental Health and Drug Advisory Council. His primary research foci have been addictive disorders, remote delivery of treatments, and motivational interventions. Over the last 12 years, he has been developing and testing e-mental health programs and apps, and since 2013 has been leading the Australian Department of Health’s e-Mental Health in Practice (eMHPrac) project—a collaboration of four universities that supports the use of digital mental health resources by health workers across Australia. He has more than 300 research publications, including 250 refereed journal papers and 9 books. He is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia, and has won several other awards for his research, including the Senior Scientist Award, Australasian Professional Society on Alcohol and other Drugs and a Distinguished Career Award from the Australian Association for Cognitive and Behaviour Therapy.

Ms Michelle Martin

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, The Central Adelaide Local Health Network


Invited Speaker – Plenary Session

“The Future of CBT in Pain Management: The clinician’s perspective”

Many Australians live with persistent (chronic) pain. Some require pain medications but many do not. Irrespective of medication use, treatments involving non-pharmacological management strategies are essential for effective coping. For some patients, support will be required from mental health professionals to improve their daily functioning and to promote better coping and emotional wellbeing. CBT for pain management has long been the ‘gold standard’ in this field, with a range of newer contextual and behavioural approaches in more recent years. The cognitive and behavioural elements of CBT have been extensively evaluated, and research has focussed on the use of CBT with individuals, in groups and with specific conditions. Online programmes have been developed with success, and many self-help books abound with CBT as a central component. The research will be discussed with respect to the future of CBT in the pain clinic, with reference to the needs of clinicians on the ground.

Michelle Martin has worked as a Clinical and Health Psychologist in pain management since 2003, and is the Senior Clinical Psychologist at the Pain Management Unit at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital (formerly the Royal Adelaide Hospital). Michelle has been instrumental in redesigning services within this Unit, and has supervised many clinical and health psychology students interested in this field. She has special interests in the applications of mindfulness-based interventions with chronic pain, the integration of change-based and acceptance-based interventions in pain management, and pelvic pain conditions for women and men.

Professorial Fellow Mark Creamer

University of Melbourne

Invited Speaker – Plenary Session

“PTSD: Controversies, challenges and innovations”

The diagnosis of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has been the focus of considerable clinical and research interest in recent years, but substantial disagreements remain in several areas. This presentation will provide a brief overview of recent research and clinical opinion across several areas including: a) the epidemiology of posttraumatic mental health (e.g., prevalence and risk factors); b) the phenomenology of PTSD and related conditions (e.g., symptom profiles, diagnosis, comorbidity); and c) evidence based treatments for PTSD. The focus will be on the complexities and nuances in each area, highlighting not only the great progress that has been made but also the current and future challenges for clinicians and researchers working with these complex disorders. Particular emphasis will be devoted to exploring the options for achieving improved treatment outcomes in PTSD and highlighting future directions for the field.

Mark Creamer is a clinical psychologist, internationally recognised for his work in posttraumatic mental health. He is a Professorial Fellow in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Melbourne and, until 2011, was Director of the Australian Centre for Posttraumatic Mental Health (now known as Phoenix Australia).

Mark has considerable clinical, policy, teaching, and research experience in the mental health effects of disaster and trauma. Over the last 30 years, he has worked extensively with individuals, communities, and organizations to facilitate recovery following incidents of natural and human origin. Mark works with government and non-government organisations, as well as with health professionals, to improve the recognition, prevention and treatment of mental health problems in people exposed to stressful life events.

He has a strong research track record, having published over 180 journal articles and many book chapters, as well as co-editing/authoring three books. He served for six years on the Board of Directors of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies and, in 2011, was awarded their highest honour, the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Image Credits: Susan Bögels; David A Clark; Flinders University; Queensland Mental Health Commission; Supplied; Mark Creamer