On Friday, October 23, Beck Institute held our first-ever virtual Summit and Panel discussion. In years past, the Summit has served as an opportunity for faculty, stakeholders, and various colleagues to catch up and learn about each other’s work in an intimate setting. This year, we employed a different approach, inviting participants to attend four virtual presentations, as well as an opportunity for the general public to watch and engage in a Q&A at our panel, entitled “Understanding the Growing Mental Health Crisis: A Conversation about Access, Advocacy, and Parity.” Attendees were also invited to breakout rooms throughout the event to discuss their learning with colleagues from around the world.

This year’s Summit was our most well-attended by far, with more than 150 registrants from 18 countries for the virtual presentations and over 500 registrants from 48 countries for the public panel discussion. The first presenter of the day, Mauro Galluccio, PhD, spoke from Brussels on the intersection of science and international relations. As a political scientist, psychologist, and CBT therapist, Dr. Galluccio illustrated the psychological tools that can be used to improve cooperation between scientists and diplomats. Our next expert, Kenneth Laidlaw, PhD, who presented from England, has spent his career enhancing the wellbeing of older people through CBT treatment. His talk challenged the notion that depression and anxiety disorders later in life are “natural” consequences of aging. He spoke on how to use CBT as a means of empowerment and to bring about positive changes by making effective use of life skills.

Later sessions included a presentation from Bruce Liese, PhD, ABPP, who shared learnings from his 30-year journey treating clients struggling with addictions. He remarked on the importance of flexibility and curiosity when dealing with addiction and noted significant obstacles to recovery, including stigma, fear, and labeling. Allison Harvey, PhD, our final presenter, gave an overview of the processes of adapting CBT for Insomnia for a broader range of sleep and circadian problems. Her presentation highlighted the complexity of sleep issues and where they overlap with mental illness diagnoses.

The next portion of the day included a ceremony honoring 2020 Beck Institute Excellence Award winner, former US Representative Patrick J. Kennedy. After being presented the award by Beck Institute President Judith Beck, PhD, the Representative Kennedy remarked:

“You can count on me to use the influence I have to embed the lessons of Dr. Aaron T. Beck and Beck Institute…I know [this recognition] will help me have greater standing as an advocate to have been able to win a seal of approval from Beck Institute.”

Representative Kennedy then joined a panel discussion moderated by Beck Institute Director of CBT Programs Allen Miller, PhD, MBA. The former chief operating officer of the United States Department of Housing and Human Development Estelle B. Richman, Executive Director of the van Ameringen Foundation Hugh Hogan, and Jill Bowen, PhD, Acting Commissioner at the Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services comprised the rest of the expert panel. Their conversation, which was open to the public, served to bring together distinct perspectives and experience in working toward parity in mental health treatment and access to evidence-based practices. The panelists answered questions from the audience and illuminated the barriers present in our current health care system, touching on issues of funding, advocacy, systemic inequities, and organizing.

We are thrilled to have been able to bring together so many powerful minds for a day of learning and community. We could not have done so without the support of our wonderful sponsors, especially our Benefactor-Level sponsor and IT provider for the past seven years, Zog, Inc. Videos from the Summit will be available on our website in the coming weeks. As we look ahead to next year, our hope is that we may continue to create and cultivate a rich environment for expanding our knowledge of CBT and helping to improve lives worldwide.

Dr. Judith Beck, former US Representative Patrick J. Kennedy, Dr. Aaron Beck, and Executive Director Lisa Pote at the Beck Institute Excellence Summit
Beck Institute President Judith S. Beck, PhD, former US Representative Patrick J. Kenney, President Emeritus Aaron T. Beck, MD, and Executive Director Lisa Pote at the 2020 Beck Institute Excellence Summit.

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