“Board Level” – Spring 2018 ANZ ACBS update

Hello ANZ ACBS members and friends,

As the days of Spring pass and summer beckons I’d like to share the events of the past  months for the Board of Directors and highlights from the ANZ CBS community.

When I wrote the previous “Board Level” blog, it was the week of the 2018 ACBS World Conference in Montreal, Canada. Writing from my hotel room after having travelled half a world away from Melbourne I felt very fortunate to be able to participate in World Con, to anticipate being inspired by all the science and practice developments from around the world, to catch with up with old friends and make new ones. World Con did not disappoint!  It was great to meet with ANZ Chapter members at the conference, and to see a good number of researchers and practitioners from our region presenting papers and workshops. 

During World Con we held an important meeting of the International Chapters to share developments and challenges, chaired by Graciela Rovner (Sweden) & myself. While ACBS still has a majority of members from the USA,  membership is growing across the world, and local Chapters importantly represent “the ACBS experience” for many members. During the meeting, Melissa Schellekens (ANZ ACBS Treasurer) and I met with other Chapter officers and heard about how CBS was being promoted in other countries and regions. It was exciting to hear about the sizeable interest in CBS in many places, including large-scale events happening in Brazil and China.

Talking together about the challenges of running a Chapter was a connecting experience, especially sharing both the benefits and limits of the support of ACBS International. I was grateful for the years of work that had built the ANZ Chapter to it’s current state, so Melissa and I could share with international colleagues our impressions of what had worked… and what hadn’t. It seemed to me that a common challenge across all the International Chapters was the dependence on volunteer time for almost all functions, the hard work to raise funds for activities and projects (as ACBS International provides membership infrastructure but no financial support to Chapters), and the need to respond to national and regional requirements (such as legal requirements, insurance like van insurance providers for business events etc) . And then… consider all the effort involved in translating materials etc. for many our Chapters! There is a lot to be fortunate for with our ANZ Chapter, plenty of more things to be done, and some great opportunities ahead to be involved in supporting CBS practitioners on other countries.

Recent Board ACTivities

This year has continued to be a busy one for the Board. Since August we have hosted a major training event (Skills Intensive), continued to make preparations for the Chapter conference, responded to member calls for advocacy, coordinated communication initiatives, commissioned the development of a revised constitution, engaged in further reform of our financial processes, set up the election process for the Board of Directors, and prepared for the Annual General Meeting. This has involved our monthly Board meetings, along with plenty of other emails, meetings and errands. I think we can safely say that the Board has worked to the full capacity that a team of volunteers can; I am proud of what we have accomplished in 2018, considering we all have busy family lives, caring responsibilities and day-jobs. 

Skills Intensive

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We held the ANZACBS Skills Intensive in Melbourne in early August. It was a large event, with 113 practitioners participating in 2 full days + 1 evening of training. Workshop participants came from all around our region, including sizeable contingents from Western Australia and New Zealand!   (An awesome moment at the end of the event was seeing people hang around afterward, meeting in their regional groups).

Lisa Soares, Louise Shepherd and Ben Sedley did a tremendous job in leading training in the fundamental ideas and practices in ACT, with great sessions on case conceptualisation, the therapeutic relationship, and metaphor, amongst other things. [Yes, I was training too, with some geeky pieces on functional analysis, Relational Frame Theory and perspective-taking].

The Skills Intensive took months of planning, after Lisa Soares and I mused over coffee in December 2017 about ways to hold a broader range of events in ANZ ACBS. We pitched the idea of a Skills Intensive to the Board, who were supportive of the event. From April onward there were a series of creative conversations with Louise and Ben about content based on survey responses from members, and closer to the time, close coordination of our training sections.

For me, it was such a pleasure to be in the training team, and see my colleagues shine as they led participants through demonstrations and exercises on the fundamentals of CBS interventions. Thank you ever so much Louise, Ben & Lisa.Image may contain: 5 people, people smiling, people standing

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During the event we benefited from a team of volunteers to register people and help with organisation: deepest gratitude to Emma Caruana, Stella Mihailova, Daniel Simsion, & Tiffany Rochester.

Another great moment: having dinner together as a very large group on Saturday night at the pub around the corner from the training venue. (Thanks Tiff for setting it up, it really helped the event have that social connectedness ACBS occasions are famous for).

If you are curious to learn more about the Skills Intensive, Richard Bunker (a Brisbane ANZACBS member) wrote a review of the event. Thanks Richard!

The Skills Intensive was a very successful event, and we appreciated all the feedback from delegates for our planning of future events. The funds generated from the Skills Intensive provided a much-needed boost to the Chapter bank balance, enabling us to better handle the up-front costs of the 2019 conference.   

Canberra Conference – 8 – 12 February 2019

Not long now!   We hope the buzz for the 2019 conference is building to fever pitch.

Our hardworking conference chairs Linda Nicholson and Alison Christie have continued to put the long hours in, collaborating closely with Kali Madden (ANZ ACBS Executive Officer) to get all the conference details in place, respond to member enquiries, and promote this major event for the Chapter.

Thanks to all the members who responded to the call for submissions with such a great range of papers, symposia, workshops and panels. It certainly led to difficult choices for Linda and the Program Committee to decide what to accept for a solid 2 day conference.

In the end, we were pleased to organise 4 streams for the conference, that no doubt will involve difficult choices for the delegates too, with such an array of marvellous speakers and topics. This, combined with the 2 days of fantastic pre-conference workshops, makes for a compelling conference offering in early 2019.

And… that’s just during days at ANU. In the evenings there will be a full social program too, including the Follies! Plenty of opportunities to connect, share and have fun.

So, support your Chapter by registering for the conference, and get ready for 4 days of deep contextual behavioural science goodness and community connection in Canberra.

And then tell your friends and colleagues about the conference too!   This conference is going to be special.


Since setting this as a Chapter direction at the 2017 Conference, the Board have been listening and responding to members’ calls for ANZ ACBS to take a public role in various social and political issues.

Along with the members making these requests it is evident to me that many challenges in our region, and the responses to them, would benefit from contextual behavioural science perspectives. 

However, to respond in useful ways there is work to be done within ANZACS to create an organisational process for public statements and advocacy.

To achieve this Tiffany Rochester and I have called for volunteers to work with us to develop this process, through a sub-committee that will report to the Board.

We are also interested in members’ views about this direction, to gauge it’s importance as an organisational priority (this is being asked about in the Member Survey).  Please share your views on this direction in the survey and directly to the Board.


Over 2018 Tiffany Rochester has been coordinating a Communications Team of volunteers to produce cool content for the Chapter.

There are so many things happening and contributions to CBS in ANZ from members that deserve a wider audience.

Two excellent examples of this are the informative and fun profile pieces of Chapter members penned by Amy Campbell and Sarah Mooy. ANZ ACBS meet Sharon Jeyabalan and Toni Hanna

The Comms Team have made a great start, and I know that this direction is highly valued by the wider ACBS community. Watch this space for more stories and sharing from around Australia and New Zealand.

Pub Talks

Image may contain: 2 peopleOur West Australian members continue to lead the way with the Pub Talk format!

Last Thursday (November 15) was another highly successful meet-up, with Mitch Hart and Chris Hayes presenting on “ACT & Schema Therapy: Can They Really Work Together?” at the Wembley Hotel in Perth. [https://www.facebook.com/groups/ACTIG/permalink/2204151392936913/]

Sources tell me (well, Tiff told me) that the event was a full house with 120 registrations (& 40 on the wait list). Brilliant work to Andrew Duirs and the WA team for organising this local event for ANZ ACBS. Can’t wait to see what you come up with in 2019.

Things are happening out West!

Don’t live in WA? Can’t afford the cab fare to Perth from where you are?  Organise your own local events!  The Board are interested in working with any members who want to promote CBS in their local area. Pub talks, meet-ups, training events, conferences – it is your Chapter and we are keen to support the growth of CBS where you live and work. Just get in touch: president@anzacbs.com


We recently invited members to nominate for various roles on the Board of Directors, and currently elections are underway for contested positions. Thanks to Daniel Simsion (ANZ ACBS Secretary) and the election committee for coordinating this.

It is a healthy sign to receive so many nominations, and it bodes well for the Chapter’s future that so many members want to be involved.

I’d like to say that if we could, we’d have all of the nominees serve on the Board: there was such a strong showing from the community for nominations. All the candidates are impressive people with great platforms, and the types of volunteers that enable a Chapter to grow and prosper.   

Current members of ANZ ACBS will have received an email for the balloting process.

Please contribute to your Chapter by voting in the election. Every vote matters!  Voting is open until 21 November.

If you haven’t received the voting email this means that you are not on the current Chapter membership list. If you are in this situation, please check your current membership with ACBS directly and then liaise with Daniel Simsion (secretary@anzacbs.com).   

Member Survey

As we finish a busy year for ANZ ACBS, it is a good time to hear your views about the direction of the Chapter.

Members will have received an email inviting them to share their views about the Chapter and future steps we may take. With the Chapter elections and the formation of a new Board following the Annual General Meeting, it is a great time to get your feedback.

You can also share your views on the survey here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/ANZACBSMS18

The results from the survey will be shared in our forthcoming AGM.

Annual General Meeting – 25 November 2018

We are holding the Chapter AGM as an online meeting on Sunday 25 November 2018, 2 – 4pm AEDT (hosted on zoom).

We invite you to register for the AGM (email our diligent Secretary Daniel Simsion: secretary@anzacbs.com), connect and participate.

The AGM will provide

  • reports from the President, Secretary & Treasurer,
  • the 2019 Board Election results,
  • the Membership Survey results &
  • directions for 2019 from the incoming President.

We also be voting on the acceptance of the updated Chapter Constitution.

There will be time for members to ask questions of the Executive and give feedback on proposed directions.

And broader member ACTions

Australia’s SBS “Insight” program – 6 November 2018

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On 6th November SBS Insight (an important Australian TV program for debate and first person stories) screened a forum on “beating anxiety”, where guests shared their experiences of anxiety and what has helped them. Guests shared about using CBT, ACT, medication, exercise and creativity to overcome anxiety. In the forum were two members of the ACBS community, Deborah Hart and Steve Hayes.

Deborah shared her experience of music performance anxiety as a french horn player and how Acceptance and Commitment Therapy helped her. Deborah is an ANZ ACBS member, who has been developing ACT for professional musicians struggling with performance anxiety (she presented a cool workshop on this at the Perth 2017 ANZ ACBS Conference!). Deborah did a tremendous (& brave!) job of describing how ACT helped her, particularly how personal valuing changed her approach to playing music. Bravo Deborah! 

Steve Hayes shared his experience of discovering how acceptance and openness to his anxiety helped him (https://www.facebook.com/InsightSBS/videos/350248475741494/ ; also described in https://youtu.be/o79_gmO5ppg). Yes, Steve talked about ACT, and more importantly, when being invited to compare ACT to cognitive therapy, instead presented a larger picture: a future of personalised approaches and process-based therapy. This was really special. Instead of defending a therapy brand, in the forum Steve contributed in a broader way about the science of helping, being reasonable and open about CBT writ large. This contrasted favourably to a smaller-minded argument in the forum about “which brand is best”. [Yes, there was a misleading statement made about Medicare & ACT by another guest, that caused some consternation and confusion. As an organisation we can continue to educate the public and health professionals about contemporary cognitive behavioural therapy, which includes contextual approaches like ACT]

Along with Deborah and Steve, there were a number of people on “Insight” discussing the ways that ACT had worked for them to live broader, richer lives with anxiety. To have people share their lived experience of using ACT on this program was powerful testimony. I thought this all added up to a favourable picture of ACT that may encourage those curious in the viewing audience to check it out.

I’m aware that a number of ANZACBS members worked behind the scenes with the producers to help the CBS message in the program  be represented well: thanks to Louise Shepherd and Russ Harris for contributing in this way. [If I have left someone off the list to than please get in touch. We want to acknowledge these great ways that the community works together to promote CBS. It’s super inspiring!]

Reflections and Appreciations

This is my last blog as President of the Chapter: following the AGM my Board colleague Tiffany Rochester will be taking on the role.

As many of you know, Tiff is a very inspiring person, whose passion and dedication to our Chapter is contagious!  Many’s a time Tiff’s enthusiasm and creativity has helped the Board to “flexibly persist” in our plans to deliver the best for members. I know Tiff will capably provide leadership and work effectively with the Board to guide our organisation in great directions; I very much look forward to supporting her in my role as a past-president.

Our Board has worked very effectively in 2018 to strengthen the foundations of our Chapter. After the challenges of 2017, true leadership has been shown by our Secretary (Daniel Simsion) and Treasurer (Melissa Schellekens) to guide us through a risky time financially and governance-wise. With an updated constitution, clarity around membership processes, and financial controls the Chapter is now on solid ground.

In the midst of this reform the 2018 Board has been very dedicated in expanding the services to members through events, webinars, consultation and communications. We have achieved a lot, together, and hope this has enhanced the experience of Chapter members. 

I want to use this opportunity to express my gratitude to our Board of Directors and the membership for the support I’ve received during my period serving as President. It is such a privilege to work with colleagues who hold such passion and commitment for contextual behavioural science. My fellow Board members have been a constant source of inspiration and rejuvenation. Katie, Geet, Sara, Melissa, Tresna, Tiff, Linda, Daniel, Lisa, Paul & Alison – thank you ever so much!  It has been a pleasure to learn from you, stand with you, be a team.

I feel confident about the future of ANZ ACBS.

Hopefully see you at the annual general meeting on 25th November. I also look forward to connecting with many members at the Canberra conference in February 2019!

May your life be filled with valued actions.

best wishes, Eric

Eric Morris

President, ANZACBS