International Federation for Psychotherapy 

23rd World Congress of Psychotherapy

9-11 February 2023; Casablanca, Morocco

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Afzal Javed (Pakistan)

Professor Afzal Javed was appointed President-Elect of the World Psychiatric Association at the 2017 World Congress of Psychiatry in Berlin.  In 2020, he assumed the role of President and launched the WPA 2020-2023 Action Plan. As President, Professor Afzal Javed leads the work of the Executive Committee, ensuring the group remains focused on fulfilling the vision of WPA and on reaching its goals as outlined in its charter and in the current Action Plan. In addition to his roles as a Consultant Psychiatrist at the UK NHS, Honorary Clinical Associate Teacher at Warwick Medical School, University of Warwick UK and honorary Chairman of the Pakistan Psychiatric Research Centre, Fountain House, Lahore, Pakistan, Professor Afzal Javed also fulfils his role as WPA President by liaising with member societies across the globe, supporting their local endeavours, and sharing knowledge and information between them.  

Plenary Address: Psychosocial Treatments and Public Health Needs

There is ample evidence that adverse psychosocial exposure is associated with several health problems including mental health consequences. This association may be causal, or it may reflect issues of reverse causation. Psychosocial factors such as stress, hostility, depression, hopelessness, and work-related difficulties may be associated with health problems and adverse risk profiles in terms of psychosocial factors seem to cluster with general social disadvantage. Psychosocial adversities can thus emerge as an important cause of health inequalities. 

Whereas unequal distribution of the social determinants of health, such as education, housing, and employment, drives inequalities in physical and mental health, there is also extensive evidence that psychosocial factors, such as work stress, may influence health and wellbeing in a big way. The amelioration of social inequalities in health should therefore be a priority for public health policy. This is more relevant and appropriate for many low resource countries. There have been calls for this goal to be realised through interventions targeting psychosocial risk factors. Thus, psychosocial intervention, is key to improving the health of the disadvantaged populations.

This presentation highlights the current evidence that exists about the relationships between social determinants, psychosocial factors, and health outcomes. It also argues that for a conceptual framework that focuses on the psychosocial pathways between factors associated with social, economic, and environmental conditions and mental and physical health outcomes.

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Norman Sartorius, M.D., Ph.D., F.R.C.Psych.

Professor N. Sartorius, previously the Director of the Mental Health Program of the World Health Organization, President of the World Psychiatric Association and of the European Psychiatric Association, now serves as President of the Association for the Improvement of Mental Health Programs, a non-governmental organization located in Geneva.  Professor Sartorius holds several professorial positions in Europe, the USA and elsewhere.  He has published more than 500 papers in peer-reviewed journals and authored, co-authored, edited, or co-edited more than 120 books.  Professor Sartorius’ main areas of interest at present are the comorbidity of mental and physical disorders, the reduction of the stigma of mental disorders, and education of psychiatrists and other stakeholders in the field of mental health.  In his previous positions he was the principal investigator of several international collaborative studies and projects dealing with schizophrenia and other major mental diseases, comorbidity of mental and physical illnesses, health service development, and education of different categories of staff. 

Plenary Address: “Psychotherapy and Public Health”

The term “public health” refers to the effort to provide all people with health care which will prevent the occurrence of diseases and where this is not possible provide effective treatment of diseases with a minimal delay. Psychotherapy could be defined as the body of knowledge about human mental functioning coupled with the translation of this knowledge into specific techniques which can prevent the occurrence of mental disorder or provide care when this was not possible. Psychotherapy can and should contribute to the achievement of public health goals by preventing mental disorders or treating them. In addition, however psychotherapy can also play an important role in the organization of health care efforts and as a guide in the provision of non-specific aspects of treatment of all diseases.  To play its roles effectively psychotherapy will rely on specialists who will decide what tasks they will handle and what can be done by others to ensure that the knowledge which psychotherapy offers finds an optimal use in promoting the public health of the populations. These tasks are not easy, and it is therefore of essential importance to ensure competence of future psychotherapists in the uses of psychotherapy in the public health sphere by an appropriate education of psychotherapists and by an adequate description of their duties. 

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Mark van Ommeren (Switzerland)

Dr. Mark van Ommeren is Head the Mental Health Unit within World Health Organization Department of Mental health and Substance Abuse.  The Unit covers a wide range of topics including advocacy, suicide prevention, services across the life course, essential medicines, innovations and research in psychological interventions and mental health specific settings. He coordinated the writing of the WHO (2022) World Mental Health Report: Transforming Mental Health for All. Much of his earlier work has focused on initiating and developing inter-agency mental health policy for humanitarian settings with linked implementation tools; developing, testing, and disseminating a range of scalable psychological interventions; and “building back better” mental health services across different levels of the health system after major emergencies. He was born in the Netherlands and studied at the University of British Columbia (BSc in statistics); MA in intercultural counseling psychology and received his doctorate from the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam in 2000.

Plenary Address: “Integrating Psychosocial Interventions in Routine Health Systems”

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Moussa Ba (Senegal)

Moussa Ba, a national from Senegal, totals more than 40 years of experience in the field of mental health. He has been the Chief of the Critical Incident Stress Management Unit (CISMU) of the Department of Safety and Security (DSS) of the United Nations (UN) since the creation of the Department in 2005 to the date of his retirement in December 2021. Prior to that he was appointed by UNICEF as a Program Officer in emergency countries in Western and Central Africa. He joined the United Nations Security Coordination Office (UNSECOORD) at the New York UNHQ in December 2002 as a Regional Stress Counsellor in charge for the West Africa region and DPKO Missions. 

Dr. Ba holds a M.D. from Cheikh Anta Diop University (Dakar Senegal), a Ph.D. in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences (Dakar University and Paris V France) and a Master’s degree in international health (Track Epidemiology in Complex Emergency Settings) from Tulane University (New Orleans, USA). Dr. Ba also holds the UK National Certification on Hostage Negotiation from the Scotland Yard Metropolitan Police Training Center in Hendon, UK.He has worked as an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Cheick Anta Diop University of Dakar and cumulatively head of a Psychiatric Division at the Fann University Hospital Centre of Dakar for 15 years. He coordinated the Inter-University degree in Cognitive and Behavioral Therapy (between Paris V and Dakar University) and was also an Adjunct Professor of Disaster Mental Health in the inter-university linkage Dakar-Tulane (New Orleans)- and Morehouse (Atlanta). From 1988-1989 Moussa Ba worked as the Director of the Medical Research Department at the Ministry of Cooperation and Scientific Research in Senegal. From 1989-1994, he was appointed as the Advisor of the Minister of Children, Women Family in charge for all the cross sectoral coordination of all technical and administrative issues related to children and families nationwide. 

Dr. Ba is one of the 10 Experts of the task force that was hired by the UN Department of Social Affairs to design the World Plan of Action for Disabled People for the years 2000 and beyond (1992). In that committee he was the President of the Group in charge for Prevention. He received an award from President Chirac then Mayor of Paris for his work on Improving Mental Health at the International level (1994) and from President Clinton (1996) for his leadership on Improving Quality of Life in Africa.

Plenary Address: “Caring for the Caregivers in Challenging Situations– Lessons Learned from the United Nations”

Abstract to follow

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Driss Moussaoui, M.D.

Driss Moussaoui is Professor Emeritus at Faculty of Medicine in Casablanca, Morocco. He was the founder and Chair of the Ibn Rushd University Psychiatric Centre in Casablanca from 1979 to 2013. He was also Director of the Casablanca WHO Collaborating Centre in Mental Health from 1992 to 2013. Prof. Moussaoui was President of the Moroccan Society of Psychiatry and of the Arab Federation of Psychiatrists. He has edited or co-edited 12 books and published more than 200 papers in international journals. Prof. Moussaoui founded with the World Psychiatric Association (WPA) Executive Committee the Jean Delay Prize (1999). He is the scientific director of the WPA series « International Anthologies of Classic Psychiatric Texts » (French, German, Spanish, Italian, Greek and Russian, in press). Driss Moussaoui is Past President of the World Association of Social Psychiatry (WASP, 2010-2013) and member of the French Academy of Medicine. He is a WPA and WASP Honorary Member, and currently President of the International Federation for Psychotherapy (2018-2023).

Plenary Address: “Access to Psychotherapy: For a Better Mental Health in the 21st Century”

Mental disorders are among the heaviest burdens on individuals and societies, all medical specialties included. Treatment of mental disorders necessitates for health workers a good relationship, an improvement of the environment of the patient, a psychotropic medication and/or a psychotherapy. The negative consequences of non-treatment are bad for the patient, for the family and for the society at large, from the human and from the economic points of view.

Access to care for mental disorders remains scarce everywhere in the world, including in rich countries. Half of the people with schizophrenia receive no treatment in the USA and half of the people with depression in France are not even diagnosed. In some countries of Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia or Latin America, there is less than one psychiatrist for a million inhabitants. In such environments, access to mental health care in general and to psychotherapy in particular, are an inaccessible dream.

During the past three years, International Federation for Psychotherapy launched a pilot project in Morocco on ‘Psychological Help in Rural Areas’. The results of this study will be presented, as well as experiences in various countries to overcome poor access to Psychotherapy.

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Dinesh Bhugra (UK)

Dinesh Kumar Makhan Lal Bhugra CBE is a professor of mental health and diversity at the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London. He is an honorary consultant psychiatrist at the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and is former president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists. He has been president of the World Psychiatric Association[ and the British Medical Association. He is a well-known commentator on mental health issues. He has contributed to The GuardianThe Daily Telegraph, The Times (UK), the Financial Times, The Observer, The Huffington Post, the BBC News Magazine, The Times of India, and The New York Times. His research interests include topics across social and public health psychiatry: cross-cultural psychiatry, migrant mental health, professionalism in psychiatry, depression, psychosexual medicine, service provision and decision-making. He has become an important authority on these issues, having published over 180 papers in peer-reviewed journals, 100 editorials and invited papers, 90 book chapters and authored or edited 30 books. 

Plenary Address: The psychology of institutions

Abstract to follow

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Ulrich Schnyder, M.D.

Ulrich Schnyder, M.D., is a psychiatrist and licensed psychotherapist. He is emeritus professor of psychiatry and psychotherapy at University of Zurich, Switzerland. Until 2018, he was head of the Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy at the University Hospital Zurich. His scientific activities are focused on various aspects of traumatic stress research, including epidemiology, neurobiology, psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy for PTSD, resilience to stress, and, more recently, refugee mental health, and the emotional, psychosocial and physical consequences of child maltreatment. Past President of the European Society for Traumatic Stress Studies (ESTSS), the International Federation for Psychotherapy (IFP), and the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies (ISTSS). In 2013, he received the ESTSS Wolter de Loos Award for Distinguished Contribution to Psychotraumatology in Europe, and in 2016 the ISTSS Lifetime Achievement Award. Honorary Member, International Federation for Psychotherapy (IFP).

Plenary Address: “Evidence-based Psychotherapies for PTSD: Differences, Commonalities, and Future Directions”

This lecture gives an overview of the currently available empirically supported psychotherapies for PTSD. They each have their specific characteristics, but they also have a lot in common. In fact, the commonalities outweigh the differences by far: (1) Psychoeducation offers information on the nature and course of posttraumatic stress reactions, identifies ways to cope with trauma reminders, and discusses strategies to manage distress. (2) Emotion regulation and coping skills are frequently taught and trained in the beginning or first stages of treatment. This may also be seen as a treatment element that aims at promoting trauma survivors’ resilience. (3) Some form of imaginal exposure to the patients’ memory of their traumatic experiences can be found in virtually all evidence-based psychotherapies for trauma-related disorders. (4) Cognitive processing, restructuring and/or meaning making is another common element. (5) Emotions are targeted in all psychotherapies. Some predominantly tackle the patients’ fear network, others focus more on guilt and shame, anger, or grief and sadness. (6) Memory processes also play an important role in treating trauma-related disorders. The reorganization of memory functions and the creation of a coherent trauma narrative appear to be central goals of all trauma-focused treatments. Promising future developments may include, e.g., the combination of treatments to address comorbidities, “mini-interventions” for specific problems trans-diagnostically, and treatment elements aimed at enhancing resilience, such as mindfulness-based approaches. Furthermore, psychotherapists working with trauma survivors should develop their culture sensitivity.

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Jalil Bennani, M.D.

Jalil Bennani, M.D., is a psychiatrist and a psychoanalyst in Rabat, Morocco. He has written a number of books, notably: ‘The suspect body’ (Le corps suspect, 1980), ‘Psychoanalysis in Islamic territory’ (Psychanalyse en terre d’islam, 2008), ‘A psychoanalyst in the city’  (Un psychanalyste dans la cité, 2013, Grand Atlas Prize), ‘A such long journey’ (Un si long chemin – Paroles de réfugiés au Maroc, 2016), ‘From jinn to psychoanalysis’ (Des djinns à la psychanalyse, 2022).

Jalil Bennani is an associate researcher in the CRPMS of the Paris University. He is entitled to lead research studies at the Nice University (Université de Nice Sophia Antipolis). He received in 2002 the «Sigmund Freud Prize of the City of Vienna» for significant contributions to the field of Psychoanalysis.

Plenary Address: “For a New Approach of Traditional and Modern Practices”

Traditional practices are often at the crossroads of the comings and goings from one culture to another, from one language to another. We must take into account the movement of subjects and their symptoms, their desire to leave and retrieve. How can one integrate the non-Western knowledge with that of psychiatry and psychoanalysis? What is the epistemological break that takes place in theory? What are the effects on psychotherapeutic practices? I will address in this lecture the articulation of the discourse on beliefs to that on science, through the patient’s words, taken in its cultural diversity and its decentering.

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Tom Jamieson- Craig, M.D., Ph.D., FRCPsych.

Tom Jamieson- Craig is Professor Emeritus of Social Psychiatry at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King’s College, London. He qualified in medicine at the University of the West Indies in 1973 and trained in psychiatry in Nottingham UK. He was appointed as the first professor of Community Psychiatry in the UK in 1990 with clinical bases at St Thomas’ Hospital and later with the South London and Maudsley NHS Trust. His research closely followed his clinical interests including the evaluation of residential alternatives to the hospital asylum, controlled trials of early intervention services for first episode psychosis and in that role led several initiatives including the closure and community reprovision of a large hospital asylum, the introduction of early implementations of community mental health services including the implementation and evaluation of pan-London outreach for mentally ill homeless people, psychological interventions for ‘dual diagnosis’ and more latterly the use of digital (computer) enhancements to psychological therapies for psychosis He has published more than 300 papers in peer reviewed journals and book chapters. He is a past president of the World Association of Social Psychiatry (WASP, 2013-2016), Fellow of the European Society of Social Psychiatry and hon. Fellow of the WPA. He also served on several national health programmes including the MHRN research lead for the southeast of England, the mental health lead for the National Clinical Advisory service and with the Health Policy Commission.

Plenary Address: “A therapist in your pocket? A role for digital technology in the delivery of psychological therapies”

Achieving sustained benefits from a psychological treatment depends on at least 3 things. First, access to a therapist, second that the therapy is provided with suitable competence and third that benefits are realised outside of the therapy room. For common mental disorders of depression and anxiety, the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) in the UK is a good example of upscaling therapy delivery with some 10,000 therapists seeing around 1 million people each year but with continuing concern about the longevity of benefit beyond the clinic.  For those with psychotic conditions, achievements are more modest, reflecting in part greater skepticism about the efficacy of talking treatments for these conditions and even where a good evidence base exists, a shortage of specialised therapists to competently deliver the treatment. There is growing interest in the use of new ‘digital’ technologies to address some of the shortfall. These include self-help smart phone applications to treat specific symptoms as for example treatments of insomnia or ‘in vivo’ treatment for paranoid symptoms and the use of virtual reality as an adjunct to aspects of therapy delivery as in the replication of therapist-accompanied exposure to threatening environments or in an adaptation of relational therapies for hallucinated ‘voices’.  Much of this work is still experimental and will face considerable challenges upscaling to routine health care, but some are already achieving this upscaling and with more mobile phones in use worldwide today than there are toothbrushes the expansion of these novel therapies is certain to follow.

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César A. Alfonso, M.D.

César A. Alfonso, M.D., is Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Columbia University, Adjunct Professor at the University of Indonesia, and Visiting Professor at the National University of Malaysia. Born in Cuba in 1961, he spent formative years in Spain and Puerto Rico before pursuing undergraduate studies at Yale University, and graduate and postgraduate studies in medicine, psychiatry, psychosomatic medicine, and psychoanalysis in New York. Dr. Alfonso served as President of the American Academy of Psychodynamic Psychiatry and Psychoanalysis (AAPDPP) in 2010-2012, as Chair of the Psychotherapy Section of the World Psychiatric Association for six years and presently serves on the Council of the International Federation for Psychotherapy. His recent work includes the study of the psychodynamic determinants of treatment adherence, biopsychosocial and cultural aspects of suicide, the clinical care of visually impaired persons, and the design and implementation of psychotherapy training programs worldwide. Dr. Alfonso is a Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association and a Fellow of the New York Academy of Medicine, the Academy of Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry, and of the AAPDPP. He has over 100 publications, including three books with Guilford Press and Springer Nature. Dr. Alfonso practices in New York and is Chief Psychiatrist at the Lighthouse Guild Clinic. He is Editor in Chief of Psychodynamic Psychiatry.

Plenary Address: “Childhood Adversity, Epigenetics, and Psychotherapy as a Biological Treatment”

Psychotherapy results in improved mentalization and reflective functioning, effective adaptation, and symptomatic reduction. It results in increased levels of functioning at work, within the family unit, and in social settings. Psychotherapy not only alters brain chemistry and function, but also effects change at the level of the DNA. Understanding gene-environment interactions is relevant to clinical practice of psychotherapy. Traumatic events, in particular during the sensitive periods of brain development in early childhood and adolescence, may trigger enduring epigenetic changes. The speaker will review how epigenetics may be an important underlying mechanism for the pathogenesis of mental disorders. Epigenetic mechanisms that have been widely studied include DNA methylation, histone modifications and non-coding RNA interference and silencing. Professor Alfonso will summarize data showing that psychosocial interventions, including brief psychotherapy interventions, may reverse epigenetic changes associated with major depression, PTSD and stressor related disorders, decreasing suicide risk and improving overall health and quality of life. Psychotherapy, thus, could be conceptualized as an effective biological treatment.

Vincenzo Di Nicola, M.Phil., M.D., Ph.D., F.R.C.P.C., F.C.A.H.S. (Canada)

Vincenzo Di Nicola is an interdisciplinary scholar who trained as a psychologist, child psychiatrist, psychotherapist, and philosopher. Di Nicola practices and teaches in Montreal, Quebec, and consults internationally as a visiting professor, educator, and specialist in the areas of child and family psychiatry, trauma, and social and cultural psychiatry. Di Nicola holds several academic, clinical, and honorary appointments: Tenured Professor of Psychiatry, University of Montreal, Canada; Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, George Washington University, USA; Honorary Professor of Psychology & Law, FADOM, Brazil; Honorary Chair & Professor of Social Psychiatry, Milan School of Medicine, Ambrosiana University, Italy. He is Founder & President, Canadian Association of Social Psychiatry (CASP), and President-Elect, World Association of Social Psychiatry (WASP). Di Nicola is Co-Founder & Past Chair, American Psychiatric Association (APA) Caucus on Global Mental Health & Psychiatry; Co-Founder & Co-Chair, APA Caucus on Medical Humanities in Psychiatry; and Past President, APA Quebec & Eastern Canada District Branch. Di Nicola’s recent international fellowships and awards include APA’s Distinguished Service Award; Distinguished International Member, Bulgarian Association of Sciences & Arts (BASA); Distinguished Fellow, American (DFAPA) and Canadian Psychiatric Associations (DFCPA); Psychiatric Fellow, American Academy of Psychodynamic Psychiatry & Psychoanalysis (AAPDPP); and Fellow, Canadian Academy of Health Sciences (FCAHS). His research ranges from behavioural psychology to child psychopharmacology and psychiatric epidemiology, focused on children’s eating and mood disorders, migrant families, and trauma. His most recent volume with Drozdstoj Stoyanov is Psychiatry in Crisis: At the Crossroads of Social Sciences, the Humanities, and Neuroscience (2021). 

Plenary Address: “Take Your Time: Seven Lessons for Young Therapists”

In these seven lessons for young therapists, a practising psychiatrist and psychotherapist with more than 40 years’ experience surveys what therapy is about and how it works, from behaviour therapy and family therapy to psychodynamic psychotherapy. Ranging from what to read and how to begin therapy, the lessons cover therapeutic temperaments and technique, the myth of independence and individual psychology, the nature of change, the evolution of therapy, the search for meaning and relational ethics, and finally, when therapy is over. 

  1. People come into therapy in order not to change – When does therapy begin?
  2. Therapeutic temperaments – Who conducts therapy and why?
  3. The family as a unique culture – Relational psychology and relational therapy.
  4. Changing the subject – How does therapy work?
  5. One hundred years of invisibility – The evolution of therapy from the 19th-century era of the symptom through the 20th-century era of therapy to the 21st-century era of change.
  6. Making meaning – Making sense, technique, and doing good: Relational ethics.
  7. “And on the seventh day, the Lord rested …” – When therapy is over: The myth of closure, flow, and slowness in therapy. 

This plenary address integrates the author’s model of working with families across cultures presented in A Stranger in the Family: Families, Culture, and Therapy (Norton, 1997) and elaborated in his Letters to a Young Therapist (Atropos, 2011) with his more recent work on trauma in Trauma and Transcendence (Fordham, 2018), and “Take Your Time,” his Slow thought manifesto (Aeon, 2019).