The Riggs Blog

Psychotherapy Caucus to Meet at Annual APA Annual Meeting in Toronto

by Aaron Beatty

Eric M. Plakun, MD, Associate Medical Director and Director of Admissions at the Austen Riggs CenterThe Psychotherapy Caucus of the American Psychiatric Association (APA) (approved by the APA Board of Trustees in December 2013) is the only place in the structure of the APA that represents psychotherapy as a crucial part of the training, identity and skills of psychiatrists. Brought to fruition by the APA Assembly’s Task Force on Psychotherapy, led by Riggs Associate Medical Director Eric Plakun, MD, and bolstered by Riggs psychiatrists Elizabeth Weinberg, David Flynn, Samar Habl and several non-Riggs psychiatrists, the Psychotherapy Caucus is an inclusive “big tent” forum, in which psychiatrists interested in any form of psychotherapy and psychosocial treatment may network and communicate with one another concerning areas of common interest and concern. 

According to Caucus leader Eric Plakun, MD, “It’s the vision of the Psychotherapy Caucus to raise the profile of psychotherapy and psychosocial treatment in psychiatry, and to secure skills in these areas as part of the training and identity of future psychiatrists so the field and its practitioners are practicing within a genuinely biopsychosocial model.”

The Psychotherapy Caucus has accomplished a great deal in a short time, reflecting both the commitment of the individual Caucus members and also the growing evidence base demonstrating that psychotherapy is an effective treatment associated with behavioral and brain change in multiple disorders. In the period of time between May 2014 and May 2015, the Psychotherapy Caucus has: 

  • Grown its membership from a dozen to over 200 APA member psychiatrists; 
  • Created links between multiple psychotherapy groups [Group for the Advancement of Psychiatry Psychotherapy Committee, American Association of Directors of Psychiatry Residency Training Psychotherapy Committee, Academy of Cognitive Therapy, American Psychoanalytic Association, Academy of Psychoanalysis and Dynamic Psychiatry, Association of Behavior and Cognitive Therapies, some state psychiatric society psychotherapy committees and others]; 
  • Shepherded the return of the American Psychoanalytic Association to the APA Assembly, leading several lapsed APA members to rejoin APA; and
  • As Caucus leader, Dr. Plakun has communicated with the IOM Committee on Psychosocial Treatment for Mental Disorders, met with Patrick Kennedy about psychosocial treatment issues and developed relationships with other psychotherapy organization leadership.

The Caucus unites therapists from multiple theoretical perspectives [e.g., psychoanalysis, CBT, IPT, TFP, group and family therapy] to join in common concern about the importance of psychosocial treatment in psychiatry—especially in light of emerging evidence of the importance of epigenetics [which the Caucus sees as a new way of saying “biopsychosocial”] in the causation and treatment of disorders. The Caucus has become a beacon of hope for those committed to the value of psychosocial treatment as part of the identity, skills and training of psychiatrists.  

The second annual meeting of the APA Psychotherapy Caucus will be held during the 2015 APA Annual Meeting in Toronto

  • Date: Wednesday, May 20 
  • Time: 1:00pm to 3:00pm 
  • Location: Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel, Simcoe-Dufferin Room, 2nd Floor

Please join us!

For more information contact Eric Plakun, MD, DLFAPA at Eric.Plakun@AustenRiggs.net.

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