By James Cullen
The 16th Annual CyberPsychology & CyberTherapy Conference: Evidence-Based Clinical Application of Information Technology (CYBER16), the official conference of the International Association of CyberPsychology, Training & Rehabilitation (iACToR) was held June 19-22, 2011 in Gatineau, Canada. Co-organized by Brenda K. Wiederhold, Ph.D., MBA, BCIA of the Interactive Media Institute and Stéphane Bouchard, Ph.D. of Université du Québec en Outoauais, CYBER16 was truly an international success setting directions for advancements in the growing disciplines of cyberpsychology, cybertherapy, training, and rehabilitation.
The quality and significance of the work presented at CYBER16 reaffirms that advanced technologies are increasingly playing a significant role in healthcare. CYBER16 further strengthened and advanced efforts to improve healthcare through technology, and explored ways to take advantage of remarkable transformations that are occurring.
CYBER16’s theme was twofold. First, it explored how technologies are currently being used as enabling tools. This included the use of advanced technologies such as Virtual Reality (VR) simulations, videogames, telehealth, videoconferencing, the Internet, robotics, brain-computer interfaces, wearable computing, and non-invasive physiological monitoring devices, in diagnosis, assessment, and prevention of mental and physical disorders. In addition, interactive media in training, education, rehabilitation, and therapeutic interventions were discussed. Second, the conference investigated the impact of how new technologies are being used to influence behavior and society. The conference also began its exploration into how social networking tools such as Twitter and Facebook are influencing individual behavior and personal relationships.
Under the direction of Workshop Chair Heidi Sveistrup, Ph.D., the conference kicked off with pre-conference workshops on Sunday, the 19th of June, which focused on multiple aspects of cybertherapy. Sunday concluded with a welcome reception at the Les Brasseurs du Temps, a traditional Canadian microbrewery.
The conference officially began on Monday, the 20th of June, with welcome remarks from the Conference Co-Chairs, Professor Brenda K. Wiederhold and Professor Stéphane Bouchard. Monday’s program included a rousing keynote address by guest speaker Frank Biocca, Ph.D. who spoke on Modulating Presence and Effectiveness in Virtual Health Environments, as well as a welcome from André Manseau, the Dean of Research at Université du Québec en Outaouais and Marc Bureau, mayor of Gatineau. Two parallel sessions in the morning and afternoon, followed by a large poster session made up the remainder of Monday at CYBER16. The poster session gave opportunities for developers and scientists to demonstrate their work and converse, one-on-one, with interested spectators and colleagues.
A busy Tuesday opened with a presentation by guest speakers Francis Fortin and Jean-Pierre Gray, Ph.D. regarding new trends in child pornography research and investigation. Six parallel sessions with topics including cybertherapy for anxiety disorders, outcome trials for anxiety disorders, developing new tools and technologies, paradigms and phenomenology of cyberspaces, PTSD prevention and new treatment tools and applications of telehealth, made up the bulk of the day. An awards ceremony took place during lunch with three categories of awards given for outstanding achievements in CyberPsychology & CyberTherapy. Included in the award presentation was the 7th Annual CyberTherapy Lifetime Achievement Award, the Annual CRC-Clinical Cyberpsychology New Investigator Award, and four student poster awards sponsored by the Virtual Reality Medical Institute and Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. Tuesday’s scientific program concluded with the 3rd Annual General Assembly of iACToR which was coordinated by Secretary General Brenda K. Wiederhold and led by reelected President Professor Giuseppe Riva. The General Assembly invited members from over 20 countries to convene to review relationships made with other associations, conferences and publications. The General Assembly then discussed how to bring about more rapid innovation in the advanced technologies and healthcare arenas. The conference concluded on Tuesday with a social dinner at the Casino du Lac Leamy.
From the full day of pre-conference workshops to the groundbreaking scientific program, CYBER16 continued its role as the leading conference in designing the future of cyberpsychology and healthcare. It is with sincere appreciation and gratitude that we thank the many that made this conference possible. This year’s scientific committee co-chairs, Paul Emmelkamp, Ph.D., Wijnand Ijsselsteijn, Ph.D. and Giuseppe Riva, Ph.D. were instrumental in providing one of the best scientific and social programs to date. The conference was also graciously sponsored by institutions and organizations whose important contributions allowed for a vibrant conference including Casino du Lac Leamy, the European Commission, Information Society and Media, Gouvernement du Québec, Interactive Media Institute, INTERSTRESS (EU-funded project), Istituto Auxologico Italiano, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., National Institute on Drug Abuse, Université du Québec en Outaouais, Ville de Gatineau, Virtual Reality Medical Center, Virtual Reality Medical Institute, WorldViz and 3dVia. CYBER16 followed in the footsteps of many collaborative efforts that have allowed for the Annual CyberPsychology & CyberTherapy Conference to continue to shape the direction of the cyberpsychology discipline, a tradition which will continue at the 17th Annual CyberPsychology & CyberTherapy Conference (CYBER17).
CYBER17 will be held September 12-15, 2012 in Brussels, Belgium. The conference will continue to explore the uses of advanced technologies such as VR, videogames, telehealth, the Internet, robotics, brain-computer interfaces, wearable computing, mobile computing, social networking, and non-invasive physiological monitoring devices, in the diagnosis, assessment, and prevention of mental and physical disorders as well as assessment of interactive media in training, education, rehabilitation, and therapeutic interventions. Locating the conference in Brussels provides a unique opportunity to raise the visibility of these issues throughout the world and to allow CYBER17 to continue its storied legacy of organizing a truly international conference. Prominent academic representatives from Europe, North America, and Asia will serve as Scientific Chairs and on its Scientific Committee. Professor Brenda Wiederhold, who divides her time between the U.S. and Europe and serves as Secretary General of iACToR (http://iactor.ning.com), will serve as the conference’s chief organizer and host.
President of Virtual Reality Medical Institute (VRMI) in Brussels, Belgium. Executive VP Virtual Reality Medical Center (VRMC), based in San Diego and Los Angeles, California. CEO of Interactive Media Institute a 501c3 non-profit Clinical Instructor in Department of Psychiatry at UCSD Founder of CyberPsychology, CyberTherapy, & Social Networking Conference Visiting Professor at Catholic University Milan.