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SPR Newsletter September 2017
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SPR Society for Psychotherapy Research
Paulo P. Machado

President's Message

Paulo P. Machado

Dear colleagues and SPR members

Welcome to the first of 2017/18 newsletters. For me and a lot of our fellow colleagues in the Northern hemisphere it is back to school week and as days become shorter a new academic year is about to begin. In the Southern hemisphere, our President Elect Mariane Krause and her colleagues are busy preparing the program for the 2018 Amsterdam SPR meeting and still months away from summer vacation.

And, as I mention meetings, what an excellent meeting we had in Toronto. A heartfelt thanks to the Local Organizing Committee chaired by our Past-President Jeanne Watson for creating the perfect setting for an incredibly inspiring meeting. The beautiful campus of Victoria University, one of the twelve colleges of the University of Toronto, located in the heart of downtown, was the perfect setting to meet colleagues and friends, have inspiring discussions and attend a packed but stimulating program. Again, thank you Jeanne Watson (Chair Local Organizing Committee) Lynne Angus, Evelyn McMullen, Shelley McMain, Alberta Pos, and Tali Boritz.

During the meeting, we recognized a number of our members for their significant contributions to the field of psychotherapy research.  Congratulations to the awardees Louis Castonguay and Bernhard Strauss who received our Distinguished Research Career Award, and James Boswell and Frederik Falkenström who received our Early Career Achievement Award.

Please remember that we have an election coming up! The annual election for General Vice-President is upon us. Our two candidates running for the office are Bruce Wampold, Ph.D., and Rolf Holmqvist, Ph.D. Please see their candidates’ statements in this issue and then vote. The electronic polls will be open beginning September 15 and close October 15, 2017. It is very important that members take the time to view the statements and vote. Whoever is elected enters a 4-year cycle (G V-P, President-Elect, President, and Past-President) and will have a long time to influence how well our society functions. Be a good SPR member, engage with the future and VOTE.

Finally, I would like to express my appreciation to Chris Perry, our outgoing Past-President. During his term, he provided strong leadership and mentorship, and helped steering the boat under rough seas. Chris’ warmth, sense, and sensibility will be greatly missed, but he has provided us with a model of leadership that will guide us into the future. Thank you, Chris! We are also saying goodbye, in the EC, to John Ogrodniczuk (NA), and Susan Hajkowski (UK); and welcoming the recently elected regional chapter presidents, Shelley McMain (NA), and Felicitas Rost (UK).

Last but not least, start making plans to attend our next meeting to be held in the wonderful and historical city of Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Please note the dates for submissions that this year will be from October 15th to December 1st.

Past President Message

J. Christopher Muran
Diversity & Division

Everywhere we turn these days, we struck (maybe stunned is a better word) by demonstrations of division in the face of diversity.

In the US, we are engaged a great struggle about our identity (some call it a debate, but that may be too understated).  I know many of my friends abroad are wondering what this means for the American identity.  I suppose one answer is: There are many American identities –and this has always been true. I believe this is also true for the SPR community.  We are essentially diverse (as well as extremely collegial).  It is what I prize the most about being a member.  But it is not something we should take for granted.  It is a continuing process –replete with steps and missteps.

As an old rupture researcher, I have come to truly appreciate difference.  Ruptures are essentially markers of difference, inevitable tensions between patient and therapist respective desires and identities, and great opportunities to define these differences.  From these, there is the potential for mutual recognition and new experience –for incredible expansion and growth.

SPR is a garden of difference, but as Voltaire concluded in his classic Candide, “we must cultivate our garden.”

Thank you and best wishes.

SPR’s 49th Annual Meeting June 27-
30, 2018 in Amsterdam, Netherlands

Mariane Krause

Dear colleagues and SPR members,
It is a great pleasure and honor to invite you all to SPR’s 49th International Annual Meeting, which on this occasion will be held in the wonderful and historical city of Amsterdam, the Netherlands, the official capital of the Low Countries and one of Europe’s largest conurbations. Amsterdam is known worldwide for being a diverse, open, and tolerant city that combines a strong culture with modern and sustainable development.

In keeping with our host city, the theme for SPR’s 49th Annual International meeting is "Integrating Diversity into Psychotherapy Research".

As part of our commitment to making our society even more inclusive and international, diversity gives us the chance to foster integration and inclusion while at the same time enriching our discipline.

Hence, in this new version of our annual meeting, we hope to promote enthusiastic and active participation through presentations with perspectives aimed at integrating diversity in terms of culture, gender, age, clinical practice and methods in our professional field as psychotherapists and researchers.
In order to meet these objectives, the conference will include Plenaries, Semi plenaries, Brief Papers, Structured Discussions, Posters, and Pre-Conference Workshops, representing all areas of psychotherapy research, practice and training in an attempt to encompass diversity in its broadest sense.
The period for submissions of presentations will be opened on October 15th, closing on December 1st.

We look forward to welcoming you to Amsterdam in 2018!

Mariane Krause
President-Elect and Program Chair

General Vice President Election

Our two candidates running for the office are
Bruce Wampold, Ph.D., and Rolf Holmqvist, Ph.D.

Please see their candidates’ statements below and vote.
The electronic polls will be open beginning September 15 and close October 15, 2017.

Click here to cast your vote »

Bruce E. Wampold, Ph.D.
Modum Bad Psychiatric Center and University of Wisconsin - Madison

From all indicators, SPR is thriving.  Membership is growing, with members from all over the world.  Participation rates at recent annual conferences are at all-time highs, as are submissions for presentations.  Psychotherapy Research, our journal, has a backlog of accepted articles waiting to be published, with an impact factor that has grown from less than one in 2006 to 2.556 in 2016 (which, is only slightly greater than the impact factor without journal self-citations).

The quantitative indices of thriving are consistent with our experiences of SPR.  It was founded as a multidisciplinary and multinational organization to provide a venue for researchers from different perspectives, using different methods, to discuss, present, and publish research on psychotherapy.  For many, SPR was a port in a storm—our psychotherapy research was not in the mainstream of most professional organizations, including psychiatry and psychology.  Ken Howard and David Orlinsky and the others founded an organization designed to promote research on psychotherapy by welcoming everyone, regardless of theoretical orientation, training, professional affiliation, position, geographical location, or any other characteristic—this is an ethos that has endured.  I never took a psychology course as an undergraduate university student (mathematics major and economics minor) but this has not been an issue for my involvement in SPR.  As time flies by (and for me, much time as flown by), I realize that SPR is a home, academically as well as personally (curious that we develop long lasting friendships in SPR, often without ever visiting our friends’ homes and vice-versa).

Despite our success, and even partly due to our success, we face challenges.  We are no longer a cozy little society.  And there are a growing number of societies that overlap with us (e.g., SEPI, Society of Clinical Psychology, Society of Counseling Psychology, Society for the Advancement of Psychotherapy, ABCT, among others).   I find it distressing that there are many of our colleagues (i.e., those doing research in mental health) with whom we have little contact.  For example, cognitive and behavioral oriented researchers have their own journals (e.g., Behaviour Research and Therapy) and their own organization (e.g., ABCT).  They often don’t read our research and we don’t read (sufficiently) theirs.

The central (multipart) question for SPR, in my opinion, is the following:  How do we maintain our inclusive ethos, expand the influence of our work, and manage our growth?  To be truthful, I don’t know the answers but I would like to be involved with others to chart our way forward.   As part of the answers to these questions I would like SPR to be more visible and vocal about the importance of mental health around the world.  Mental health distress stands in the way of a fulfilling life—work, social relations, well being, and the pursuit of happiness.  Psychotherapy is a means to achieve these goals and our efforts in this regard should be more widely recognized, especially in an era of the wide-spread use of medical interventions to deal with ever increasingly stressful and more socially isolated lives.


Rolf Holmqvist
Professor o
f Clinical Psychology, Linköping University

The Society for Psychotherapy Research has for the whole of my career been the natural network of colleagues and friends within the profession.  It is an honor to be nominated to take a big responsibility in this stimulating and open society of psychotherapy researchers.

I started my psychological career as a clinician, working with severely disturbed psychiatric patients. The lack of solid knowledge about what treatments might really be helpful for them, how to select patients for different treatments approaches, which the change mechanisms are and what outcome to expect in the psychological treatment of these patients led me to a research setting, the University of Umeå where a large practice-based study of treatment of psychotic and personality disturbed patients in hospital and community treatment was under way.

In Umeå I also attended my first SPR conference which was with the European chapter. This was the first time I heard Lester Luborsky and also realized how clinical work could be inspired by research. Some years later the European chapter had a conference in Budapest, and I guess all who were there remember the heated discussions between East European researchers who had worked behind the iron curtain and us from the West.

Since my dissertation on the meaning of therapist feelings in the context of treatment of psychotic patients I have had as a main research interest questions about the therapeutic relationship. During the last twenty years I have worked at Linköping University with research and psychotherapist training. We have successively developed a research based training program for psychodynamic therapists by using findings from research on relational aspects of psychotherapy and studies of how to handle and make use of relational challenges.

I have been involved in a number of psychotherapy projects of different kinds during my career. Psychotherapy is an extremely complex activity. I sometimes think that we are at the stage where Carl Linnaeus, the Swedish botanist, was in the 18th century. We categorize, make comparisons, and find associations without perhaps really understanding the basic mechanisms that promote change in psychological functioning. A major reason for this is of course the lack of sufficient research grants for making the large-scale studies that would be needed to really analyze potential differences between treatments and even more importantly moderators that would make it possible to recommend appropriate treatments to different groups of patients with the same presenting problem. The money shortage also delays detailed and comprehensive studies of the intricate dynamics of therapy processes.

In Sweden we have had a weird debate during the last year about new guidelines for treatment of depression and anxiety. It has been apparent that the government experts have inadequate knowledge about the special conditions for psychotherapy research. But it is also clear that those of us who have tried to bring some sense into the discussion would have needed much more data about “what fits for whom” to contrast the “one size for all” thinking.

I think SPR has several important challenges to handle in the coming years. One is to show governments, authorities, and society at large that psychological problems need to be approached primarily with psychological knowledge. The research grants to psychotherapy research are in most countries far below the level of grants to pharmacological and biological research. As increasing numbers of individuals around the world suffer from psychological illnesses and problems it becomes even more important to develop effective treatments.

Another growing task for SPR is to invite and include researchers and promote research in developing countries and in countries with scarce resources for giving psychological help and for making relevant studies. The very large challenges posed by traumatized persons in refugee camps and elsewhere, by persons needing psychological help in poor countries and by persons facing migration due to war, famine, persecution, and climate change must be met not only by political organizations but also by the research community.

Our current understanding of psychotherapy is mainly based on data from therapists, patients, and researchers with Western middle-class values and living conditions.  It is imperative to understand how ethnical and national background, economy, and social class may limit or promote the conditions for our psychotherapy interventions in different parts of the world.

I have found SPR to be a very open and friendly place, and it is striking that although research always includes competition, the atmosphere for cooperation and helpfulness is obvious at SPR meetings and among members. But I think an issue for SPR as for all scientific organizations (and I guess all human groups) is to find a balance between cultivating and stimulating existing networks and to open up for new influences and new groups of researchers. It is always a risk that organizations become mutual admiration societies.

Coming from a relatively small country it is apparent to me that international collaboration substantially increases the gains of studies. This is certainly so in countries with weaker traditions of psychotherapy research. It is my hope that SPR will continue to thrive as a stimulating and including society.

Psychotherapy Research Annual Report 2016

Wolfgang Lutz

During 2016, 62 papers were published in six issues of Psychotherapy Research. The manuscript types were as follows: 55 Original Manuscripts, 1 Introductions, 3 Book Reviews, and 3 Corrigenda. There were one special section on Elaborating the assimilation model: Case studies of setbacks within sessions and therapeutic collaboration.

Read Full Report »

Emerging Scholar Award- Thank you note

Katie Aafjes-van Doorn, DClinPsy

I would like to thank the Society of Psychotherapy Research (SPR) for the generous emerging scholar award that enabled my participation in the 2017 annual meeting in Toronto.

I am currently a postdoctoral research fellow with Professor Barber at Adelphi University, New York, and will be joining the Clinical Psychology faculty at Yeshiva University, New York in Fall 2017. Given that my teaching and research interest is in evidence-based psychodynamic psychotherapy as well as its potential moderators and mediators of change, SPR offers me a very fitting professional community.

In my short career so far, I have been able to attend several UK, European and North-American SPR meetings as well as the last few international meetings in Philadelphia, Jerusalem and Toronto. In my view, SPR meetings have not just been enjoyable, inspiring and meaningful learning experiences, but have also been formative in terms of shaping the trajectory of my career. And Toronto was no exception.

This year, I was especially inspired by the presentations on therapist flexibility in the countertransference, and motion energy analysis of non-verbal synchrony, as well as by discussions on the meaning in life, the relationship between linguistic expressiveness and emotional arousal and how to measure emotional experiencing rather than emotional expression. It appeared to me that psychotherapy research is making the interesting transition towards unconscious processes, beyond words. Like the therapeutic process, as SPR member, I did not only gain new information and insights but also learned from the way in which the experts presented, discussed and reflected on their work during the conference. Their humility, open-minded attitude, reflective and curious stance are really refreshing and inspiring for a postdoc like me, who is just starting her academic career. Many SPR members are not only sound researchers but also show deep respect for the intimacy and struggles of the therapeutic dyad as they explore moment-by-moment interactions, and communicate on a multitude of (un) conscious levels. Given that psychotherapy is a challenging endeavor for both patient and therapist, being attuned to all available levels of communication seems not just interesting, but a required “evidence-based” task in contemporary psychotherapy.

After four full days of attending various preconference workshops, talks, discussions and plenaries, participating in discussion panels, presenting my own work, forming connections with experts, current peers and collaborators during coffee breaks, lunches, dinners and the banquet, I felt very inspired and totally exhausted. And I can’t wait to do it all again next Summer, when I will re-connect with the SPR professional family in my home town of Amsterdam.

General Vice President Election

The electronic polls will be open beginning September 15 and close October 15, 2017.
Vote Now »

Upcoming Events

4th Joint Conference SPR UK & European Chapters, 22/9/2017

Webinar: Designing and Publishing Meaningful Qualitative Psychotherapy Research: Establishing Methodological, 5/10/2017

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