Conference Co-Chairs’ Message


The MPA committee has begun its work on the 23rd MCPM. The conference will continue its tradition of displaying various yet vital issues in mental health. As in previous years, the committee will invite experts to speak on the numerous areas and vital matters relevant to mental health and its growth.

The WPA partnering with the Malaysian Psychiatric Association will co-sponsor to bring the first International Meeting of the World Psychiatric Association Psychotherapy Section-WPA to South East Asia. Recognizing its importance, The World Psychiatric Association Psychotherapy Section, under the leadership of section officers and its committee members César Alfonso (USA), Allan Tasman (USA), Rizky Aniza Winanda (IDN), Hazli Zakaria (MYS), Saman Tavakoli (IRN), Renato Alarcón (PER), Ekin Sönmez (TUR), Daniel Nahum (USA) and Dušica Lecic-Toševski (SRB) generated ideas and worked hard to make a meritorious conference proposal. The ideas, worked and it caught the interest of the Malaysian Psychiatric Association.

We are indebted to the MPA local meeting co-chairs from Malaysia: Aili Hashim, Aida Syarinaz Adlan, and Jian Linn Loo, for helping to orchestrate the program. The conference has as a primary objective to demonstrate the importance of evidence-based psychotherapy, in every day psychiatric practice across all clinical settings throughout the world.

What are the common curative factors in psychotherapy? Research studies validate the clinical observations that specific aspects of psychotherapy practice are curative. These include: empathy (with sub-components of compassion, affective sharing, synchronized mirroring, listening to expressed intense emotions while maintaining composure and serenity), goal consensus and collaboration, establishing a therapeutic alliance (through safety, consistency, attunement, properly anticipating and attending to emotional needs), positive regard and affirmation, mastery, congruence/genuineness, and mentalization (developing the capacity to understand nuances of emotions, the emotional world of the self, the emotional world of others, and how emotions drive actions and one’s actions impact the emotions of others, resulting in either proximity, intimacy or alienation). These factors constitute the main transformative elements in psychotherapy.

In addition, in all psychotherapies affective regulation (regulation of emotional reactions, decreasing amplitude and over reactivity that may interfere with successful relationships) is of essence. In cognitive behavioral therapies maladaptive patterns are identified and cognitive distortions corrected, such as catastrophic thinking. Traumatic memories can be remembered in disjointed ways when emotional memories surge and overwhelm the person. Narrative reconstruction has the effect of helping persons who experienced trauma effectively release negative emotions and decrease hyperarousal and avoidance. In psychodynamic therapies conflicts that may be outside of conscious awareness are uncovered and verbally processed. Revisiting past experiences, especially traumatic ones, helps understand how to connect past experiences with present concerns or symptoms in order to forge a better future. Psychotherapy is thus practiced along a past-present-future continuum.

Psychotherapy, in addition to providing symptomatic relief, promotes gains in functioning and improves quality of life. Consultation and Liaison Psychiatry researchers have demonstrated that psychotherapy not only decreases medical morbidity but also reduces mortality.

A psychotherapy process oscillates from dealing with the here and now, doing retrospective analyses and narrative reconstructions and prospective planning. Psychotherapy pays special attention to the developmental milestones that are relevant to each phase of life, such as trust, autonomy, initiative, industry, identity, intimacy, generativity, integrity, and balancing self-reliance with interdependence.

Neuroimaging findings corroborate that structural changes and changes in metabolic rate in the brain occur as a result of psychotherapy. With advances in neuroscience we now understand that psychotherapy is a biological treatment. As with medication treatments, there is a dose effect with psychotherapy and most individuals obtain greater benefit from either longer-term treatments or rigorous short-term therapies. Episodic psychotherapy could be beneficial when a commitment to long-term therapy or a standardized rigorous short-term protocol is not possible.

This conference invited international delegates from all continents who are members of the WPA Psychotherapy Section. The WPA Psychotherapy Section has over 100 members from 40 countries and seeks to provide a forum for the collegial exchange of diverse ideas, and theoretical constructs in order to advance the practice of psychotherapy treatments within psychiatry. The conference will include Plenary Sessions, Symposia and Interactive Workshops. In addition, there will be two Poster Session tracks, clinical and a research, to give opportunities to trainees, early career psychiatrists and from all over the world to present their work in a collegial setting.

The WPA Psychotherapy Section is inclusive and all treatment modalities will be featured, including CBT, DBT, motivational interviewing, supportive psychotherapy, psychodynamic psychotherapy and psychoanalytic psychotherapies. Conference participants will be able to compare and contrast theoretical approaches and integrate modalities to better tailor treatments. Common factors of all therapies will be discussed, and cultural adaptations will be highlighted.

Plenary speakers, symposia presenters, and workshop facilitators will cover a wide range of relevant topics. These include evidence-based CBT and MI treatments of addiction, CBT cultural adaptations, the psychodynamics of psychopharmacology, end of life care, psychotherapy in underserved areas with high volume and low resources, integrating psychotherapy modalities, evidence-based psychotherapies for psychosis, psychotherapy in CLP settings, psychotherapy education, religion and spirituality and psychotherapy, psychotherapy and culture, and contemporary psychoanalysis.

I would like to thank the MPA for so graciously hosting the WPA Psychotherapy Section, and also express gratitude to all the cosponsoring organizations for their dedication and cooperation to ensure success and academic rigor.

It is with enthusiasm that I invite you to join us in Kuala Lumpur for this historic conference.



César A. Alfonso, M.D
Chair, World Psychiatric Association Psychotherapy Section
Allan Tasman, M.D
Co-Chair, World Psychiatric Association Psychotherapy Section Chair,
World Psychiatric Association Section on Education



For further information, please contact:

Congress Secretariat



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1st International Meeting of the World Psychiatric Association Psychotherapy Section- WPA Co-Sponsored Conference (Zone 16)
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