Monday, August 11, 2014

The ACBS 12th World Conference

        Every year, the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science holds a world conference. I've been to a lot of conferences and I'll be perfectly honest, when I heard the conference was going to be in Minneapolis, I wasn't exactly excited. Last year it was in Australia and the previous world conference I attended was in Turkey. So, Minneapolis!?

As it turns out, Minneapolis was a blast and lets face it — when you attend a conference, you spend most of your time at the conference centre or hotel not out and about on holiday.

To say that my experience at the conference was special is an understatement. As a researcher or professional in this field, participating in conferences like these is the norm. Something makes ACBS especially unique though, outside the norm. There appears to be no sense of hierarchy, ACBS presents you with a real community that practices what it preaches: acceptance, courage, and love. Notably, this community has a sense of humour, I found it welcoming and healing. We (the researchers and clinicians of ACBS) study human pain and suffering, we encounter it on a daily basis and come up against the knowledge that we'll never make it go away. That alone could lead to burnout. So, it can be incredibly powerful to connect with one another.

Imagine being surrounded by like-minded people who share a similar vision. Walking around the conference and seeing the authors of your favourite books talking shop and bantering about the latest data. I saw some of the most influential people in my professional world talking shop with one another. Then had my mind blown when they included me in the conversation and asked about my ideas!

I can be pictured here having my mind blown by The ACT Matrix authors Kevin Polk (right) and Benjamin Schoendorff (left)

Presenting my research proved to be a fun and exciting endeavour. I gave a poster presentation on my data and an ignite talk on using yoga postures as a mindfulness exercise in direct practice. I was met with a lot of interest by my fellow attendees, which was both relieving and fun for me. Let's face it, you show up at a scientific conference talking about yoga — you never know how people are going to respond.

ACBS WC12 Poster Presentation: Yoga in the Healing of Anxiety and Depression: The Context for Learning Psychological Flexibility, Timothy Gordon, MSW, RSW, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
So, let me tell you about my personal highlights from the conference. If you are at all interested in ACT training, the third wave (or you're even curious how this work could be applicable to organizations, etc.) you have to check out Daniel J. Moran. This guy rocks so hard he should be giving presentations with Metallica backing him up. This is the briefest taste of Daniel's presentation but please, click the play button below and take a front row seat to the ending of DJ's ACBS WC12 presentation, Balancing What's Hot with What's Not.

Being a part of a warm, loving, and connected community with people who are truly moving science forward in a way that is worthy of the human condition is something I am so grateful for. I can't wait for next year.