There are thousands of stories at an ADAA conference. These are some of them.
Reid Wilson, PhD, has been attending the ADAA conference for decades, but he always experiences unexpected highlights. This year he says, “We have some incredibly well-trained graduate students who are doing profound research in the fields of anxiety and depression: 360 new research posters were led primarily by these students. Very exciting!”
And other long-time attendees, like Sally Winston, PsyD, come away with new knowledge. “I learned some phrases I have already used with my patients," she says. “‘Content is for suckers’ regarding obsessive worry and ‘I am escorting my amygdala to the basement’ for facing phobic situations.” Also, she adds, “I learned more about the actual research and political process that resulted in the issuance of FDA warnings about suicide risk for use of medications with adolescents.”
Why does she return? “It’s the one place where researchers, master clinicians, private practice clinicians, and advanced graduate students all talk to each other — not just in sessions," she says, “but in the hallway.” As Darin D. Dougherty, MD, MSc, puts it, “The immense value is having all of this under one tent.”
Bob Ackerman MSW, LCSW, participated in the very first ADAA conference in 1980. He describes the conference in 2014 as a gathering where “the breadth and depth of the presentations offered something valuable for every attendee in the service of those who suffer anxiety and depression. Even after almost 40 years as a clinician, I return to my practice and academic endeavors with new techniques and cutting-edge knowledge that benefits both my patients and those I teach.” And he adds, “It’s a very friendly and nurturing experience.”
The collegial atmosphere is a sentiment shared by Jennifer L. Taitz, PsyD, ABPP. A Master Clinician and first-time attendee, she explains, “Many conferences feel crowded and impersonal. I enjoyed the opportunities to meet and warmly connect.” She tells her colleagues they can learn from and connect with like-minded professionals. And she tells us that the information presented in workshops was so practical. What impressed her the most? “The desire of the presenters to disseminate helpful information.”
Postdoctoral fellow Elizabeth Penela, PhD, thinks the conference has just the right mix. “The links between research and applications to clinical practice,” she says, “are front and center of each talk, and I really value that.” What impressed her was the wide variety of specialized talks related to anxiety aside from specific disorders, “about how to apply techniques for a specific age range, for example, or for clients with specific comorbid disorders.” One thing she recommends to others is to attend the conference for the unique opportunity to develop marketing ideas about how to build your practice.
When Jill M. Harkavy-Friedman, PhD, returned home, she talked about the positive energy and depth of content at the well-rounded meeting. She says this conference differs from others, thanks to its interdisciplinary collaboration. “Everyone working together energized the meeting,” she says, “and it’s critical for understanding depression and anxiety.” And what impressed her the most was the focus on work that would be clinically meaningful in the context of currently available evidence.
What story will you tell about your experience at the Anxiety and Depression Conference?