Last updated on 3rd August 2011
The 39th British Association for Behavioural & Cognitive Psychotherapies (BABCP) conference is in Guildford at the University of Surrey this year. As usual it's preceded by a choice of pre-conference workshops. Two of the twenty two initially on offer have been cancelled, but there's still a wealth of options. I've plumped for Don Baucom, from the University of North Carolina, and "Treating Adult Psychopathology Through Couple-Based Interventions". In the general conference publicity, they've written "Behavioural Couples Therapy is a theme of the conference and Professor Don Baucom is giving his first workshop on this topic for the BABCP. Despite being the founder of the field, it is only the second workshop he has ever given in the UK. His first workshop on the topic was extremely well received as it combined his world expertise with a wicked sense of humour and exceptional ability to engage the audience." No pressure then for Don! Actually he did a great job in difficult circumstances. Apparently he'd fallen down a man-hole the day before. Yup. Ouch. Could have been horrid ... a badly secured metal cover and straight down the hole, only being caught by his elbows hitting the ground. Very luckily he wasn't badly hurt. Then the room for the workshop itself left a lot to be desired. Too cramped, too noisy, too hot. I felt Don did really well ... humorous, very informed, enthusiastic. I'm very glad I went to the workshop.
The publicity read: "Cognitive-behavioral couple therapy has focused primarily on the couple's relationship with little attention to the two partners as individuals. In contrast, this workshop will focus on developing and using couple-based interventions when one partner is experiencing individual psychopathology, both within healthy and distressed relationships. Three different couple-based approaches will be described including: (a) partner-assisted interventions; (b) disorder-specific interventions, and (c) couple therapy. The workshop will include in-depth discussion and demonstrations of couple-based interventions for psychopathology, including anxiety disorders, depression, and eating disorders as examples. These interventions involve the integration of empirically supported interventions for individual psychopathology with cognitive-behavioral approaches to working with couples. A primary goal of the workshop is helping clinicians understand how these approaches can be applied in their own practices. Learning objectives: During the workshop, participants will - learn a framework for integrating individual psychopathology and relationship functioning; gain familiarity with couple-based interventions for anxiety disorders, depression, and eating disorders; learn how to develop couple-based interventions that target other forms of individual psychopathology and enhance relationship well-being. Implications for the science and practice of CBT: A primary goal of the workshop is helping clinicians understand how to integrate empirically supported interventions for individual psychopathology with well established cognitive-behavioral couple therapy principles to treat individual problems and relationship distress in their own practices."
And in describing Don, we have: Donald H. Baucom is ... Distinguished Professor of Psychology at The University of North Carolina ... Since he received his doctorate in clinical psychology in 1976, he has been actively involved in developing and evaluating couple-based interventions from a cognitive-behavioral perspective. This work has included focusing on interventions for relationally distressed couples, enhancing the relationships of happy couples, preparing couples for marriage, and employing couple-based interventions for couples in which one partner has a psychological or health problem. He has conducted more couple therapy intervention trials than any other active researcher. He currently is conducting couple-based treatment interventions for anxiety disorders and eating disorders. In addition to his research in the couple's area, he and Norman Epstein have published two books on cognitive-behavioral couple therapy ..."
So he's been in this field for ages, and it shows. A real pleasure to spend time with someone who has couple therapy in his bones. I guess I have individual therapy and group therapy "in my bones". I'd be confident that there are anatomical changes in my brain from the thousands of hours & many years I've spent working as a therapist. It's like listening to an experienced musician ... their fingers know their instrument so very well, their brain & heart & gut don't have to worry particularly about technique. That happens pretty naturally from all the experience, so their focus can be on something deeper. Don and his colleague Norman Epstein have published a book for therapists - "Enhanced cognitive-behavioral therapy for couples: A contextual approach" - which I've just ordered. He has also written a more recent book, now out in paperback - "Helping couples get past the affair: a clinician's guide" - which, it seems from workshop discussion, may partly draw on findings from trauma-focused therapies. There's also a 2009 book - "Enhancing couples: The shape of couple therapy to come" - that looks good and that he's written a chapter for and helped edit.
More to follow ... and see tomorrow's post for the start of the conference proper.