This conference was organized by the Malaysian Society of Clinical Psychology (MSCP) and supported by the Asian Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Association (ACBTA) and the World Confederation of Cognitive and Behavioural Therapies (WCCBT). It was chaired by Professor Alvin Ng Lai Oon, Associate Dean (Engagement and Internationalisation) at the School of Medical and Life Sciences, who is also the Secretary of the ACBTA and was the Founding President of MSCP. The conference, which was free-of-charge had 7,472 registered participants from 80 countries., making it easily the largest even cognitive behavioural therapy conference of its kind in Asia, if not the world. Majority of the participants were students, followed by counsellors, psychologists and psychiatrists. Participants also included other health professionals, teachers and the general public.
“It was a crazy idea to have this conference free-of-charge, but we wanted to make this conference accessible to as many people as possible, especially during these challenging times where typical registration fees for international conferences are too much for many individuals from lower-middle-income countries to afford. Furthermore, we had zero operational budget. So, we decided to not pay anyone anything apart from the award winners. We are very thankful for invited speakers to speak for free.”, said Prof Ng
The conference was opened by speeches from the President of ACBTA, Professor Firdaus Mukhtar, President of MSCP, Dr Lynne Yong Ee Lin and the President of Sunway University, Professor Sibrandes Poppema. This was followed by a Keynote from Professor Keith Dobson, President of the WCCBT. We had 35 invited speakers and two clinical case supervision sessions. Special attractions included legends in the field of psychotherapy such as Dr Debbie Joffe Ellis, wife of the late founder of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy, Dr Albert Ellis, and Dr Judith Beck, daughter of Dr Aaron T. Beck, who is known as the Father of Cognitive Therapy.
A total of 21 oral paper and 109 posters were presented over the three days of conference, culminating with a closing ceremony that saw a special message from the 2020 World Mental Health Day International Patron, HRH Tengku Puteri Raja Tengku Puteri Iman Afzan Al-Sultan Abdullah, concluding speeches from ACBTA EXCO members and the announcements of conference awards. The award prizes were sponsored by Naluri and MSCP.
All in all, it was a very successful conference as the organisers received many positive feedbacks from participants as well as speakers. Such a large gathering that involved top names from the field of cognitive behavioural therapy made it a special event, especially with it being free-of-charge. The organisers and supporting organisations would like thank Sunway University for providing the online platform for this conference.