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ICAAD mental health and addiction conference - Day 1

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One of the biggest European conferences on Addiction will take place in Kensington, London from the 1st to the 3rd of May,

PROMIS and Withersdane will have a stand there and look forward to seeing our professional colleagues plus some of our alumni there. Although it’s a conference primarily aimed at professionals, ICAAD as a new conference seems to be aiming itself at a slightly broader group to include people in recovery who are still interested to hear some of the latest ideas in the recovery world.

I’m really struggling at this conference to choose which lectures to attend. All of the following talks are ones that I would really like to see and yet you will notice there are still many that overlap with each other. It’s going to be a really difficult choice between some of these and may end up boiling down to who I might get another chance to see soon. If I can influence at all, the following are the ones that I would really like to see:


Johan Sorenson

1130 am to 1 pm “Case management: Navigation tools for the journey.”

We are looking forward to Johan Sorenson and Mike Ferguson’s presentation on Case management and crisis intervention. This is an especially interesting topic as we see that so often families and professionals make a series of crisis interventions without planning a longer term consistent recovery plan. In a way, this means that the patient’s illness wags the family dog with consistently disastrous results.

Elizabeth Hearn

1130 – 1 pm “Relieving stress informed by Hypno-psychotherapy”.

The wonderful Elizabeth Hearn is delivering this hotly anticipated lecture. The need for effective stress management can’t be underestimated for the addiction population. The wonderful thing about Elizabeth’s work is that she has applied this to high functioning, high achieving and high net worth individuals. These clients live busy stress-ridden lives and so need effective tools to manage this. It’s no good simply being told to let go, relax and not worry when so many other’s livelihoods depend on the functioning ability of these individuals. In effect, Elizabeth delivers the holy grail of being able to continue functioning at a high level while maintaining good stress management.

Rupert Poitier

2 – 330 pm Rupert Poitier will be presenting “Dynamic family recovery: Applying effective conflict resolution theory and skills”.

I have long been a fan of Rupert and his work and so I’m looking forward to this opportunity to hear him speak. Our conferences and services often revolve around the ones who are making the most noise, the primary addict, and yet, the addict is only going to spend a relatively short period of time interfacing with our services in one way or another. Families, on the other hand, are going to be in interfacing with them hopefully for life and so every little bit of work that can be done to assist families will go on having a healing impact for years and years to come.

Dr Judith Landau

4 to 530 pm “Building resilience in youth, families and communities.”

Another exciting presentation will be that of Dr Judith Landau. Dr Landau is one of those figures who hasn’t received nearly enough recognition for the tremendous impact she has had on our profession. Dr Landau was born in the UK, grew up in South Africa but has lived most of her adult life in the USA. Of her many important contributions, the most exciting to me has been her work developing the ARISE model of intervention. A long time ago people used to believe there was nothing you could do to help someone with an addiction problem until they would ask for help themselves. Then, another legendary figure came along called Vernon Johnson who showed that a crisis meeting could be managed that would convince alcoholics to accept help. Dr Landau then adapted this so that instead of the focus being around a crisis meeting, the focus was instead on adapting the environment around an addict that made it much more likely they will ask for help. In fairness to Vernon Johnson, it may well have been his intention that this wider social work was done, but many who use his method tend to go for hastily arranged meetings and don’t place the same emphasis that Dr Landau does on the family work.
Here is an interesting TED talk Dr Landau has given.

Paul Sunderland

4 to 530 pm “Boarding school syndrome, addiction and recovery – when privilege is trauma”.

Paul is going to explore the damage that boarding schools can do to some individuals regarding the inhibition of feelings, wants and needs which are necessary for intimacy in relationships and what impact this may have on brain development and functioning. This is a popular topic in our field at the moment, and Paul maintains that this group are over-represented in treatment programmes implying that this has been a causal factor in many individual’s addictions.
I have heard Paul talk on a number of issues, this is a talk he gave to TED on compulsive under earning / under acheiving.

Dr Fiona McKinney

4 to 530 “Female sex addiction: a forgotten population”

With so much attention having been focussed on male sex addiction problems it is a shame that so little focus has been given to helping women with these issues. Dr McKinnie will explore how early attachment disruption, a disorganised self-cohesion and self/other connection underpins addiction problems. There are many professionals who can provide models for how attachment theory can explain aspects of addiction but what makes Dr McKinney’s talk especially interesting is that she will talk about therapeutic repair, the way back from these problems, if you will.

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