East meets West on the Trans-Siberian railway
More than 2,000 counsellors, psychotherapists and psychiatrists from over 40 countries attended the First United Eurasian Congress for Psychotherapy across Moscow in July. The event was organised by the Professional Psychotherapeutic League of Russia (PPL), the largest professional psychotherapeutic organisation in Russia, and was the first joint congress of the European Association for Psychotherapy (EAP) and the Asian Federation for Psychotherapy (AFP).
The theme of the three-day congress was ‘Psychotherapy without borders: past, present, and future’. More than 750 papers were presented, with practical workshops running alongside. The congress also covered coaching and mediation. Young psychotherapists and students had a sector-specific conference within the main programme: ‘PPL felt it was particularly important to attract a younger generation of therapists, ’ Ekaterina Makarova, PPL’s Manager for International Relations, said.
Pre — and post-congress events attended by Russian and foreign psychotherapists took place in cities all over Russia and included several Decadniks, a unique Russian form of intensive immersion in the world of psychotherapy. Decadniks have their origins in the late 1980s during the Soviet era when psychotherapeutic training was scarce. Psychotherapists started organising one-week conferences, with very concentrated programmes, running almost 24 hours a day, so that practitioners travelling long distances from outlying regions could gain as much information as possible in the limited time available. Two thousand people attended the very first Decadnik in 1988, in Krasnoyarsk, and the format rapidly spread throughout Russia. The tradition of Decadniks continues today.
A post-congress conference in Vladivostok, ‘Depression: methods of treatment’, attracted psychotherapists, psychologists and psychiatrists from all over the far eastern regions of Russia. The highlight of the post-congress programme was ‘The Road to the East’, an epic psychotherapeutic train journey from Moscow to Vladivostok, along the world’s longest railway, the Trans-Siberian railway. Participants included psychotherapists from Germany, Austria, Serbia, Slovenia, Romania, Brazil and Russia. Workshops and talks were given by international psychotherapists throughout the six-day journey, and delegates also had the opportunity to meet local psychotherapists at stations along the route.
‘Psychotherapy in the Russian Federation has been undergoing rapid change and, while it has been influenced by the globalisation of the profession from the West, it is developing its own identity, resulting in a unique marriage of both, ’ Ekaterina Makarova told Therapy Today. ‘The 2013 congress has played an important part in helping to create a space where the psychotherapy of West and East can interface, and has given impetus to the development of psychotherapy in Russia and other countries of Europe and Asia.’
"Therapy Today": for counselling and psychotherapy professionals. September 2013, Vol. 24/Issue 7