The Journey from Pain to Change!

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By Ahmet Nalbant, M.D.

In the fall of 2016, the ACBS Turkey chapter came together to decide whether we would organize a CBS congress in Turkey. “This is serious business, think carefully!” was the statement that struck me most, when I try to recall those days. Yes, creating a CBS congress is a serious business, so why were we doing it? What were the reasons that made us, on one hand, bear all that effort, disappointments, and hopelessness and on the other hand, made us spend long hours of planning and decision making? Reasons seemed to date back to years ago.

In 2013, a group of devoted people who had already been in ACT, decided to establish a CBS community in Turkey, and so the ACBS Turkey chapter was formed. It was not only about being known and it was not only for disseminating. In fact, there was a considerable risk of being rejected, humiliated or neglected. Frankly speaking, all of these happened as years went by, and even today we must face that pain. However, we are a bigger community now, and through the years we met people who are willing to share the pain with us. We met people who really value our works, encourage us, and make contributions. We have found that this journey was all about sharing with people in the first place. We want to thank all those people for sharing with us.

What about organizing a congress? Why did we need that? I think it was more or less for the same reason. Then again, something was different. It was time for change and to push the boundaries a bit further. We wanted to reach more people and this time, we wanted not only to share pain, but also our values: bringing pain and change together where science and human life meets.

I would like to mention the congress more. First of all, this was a very risky step for us. I do not know how many of us were truly aware about it, but I guess deep down inside nobody cared. Beyond financial difficulties, there were other risks that could have spoiled the organization. No one among us had experience, even a little bit, in holding such an event. Every detail brought new problems and as problems were solved, bigger ones came forward. I think we understand the importance of cooperation more now.

One of the most important issues with which we dealt was getting the word out about the event. Even if that were possible, how would we persuade people that had never heard of or were not familiar with ACT/RFT/CBS to come to the event? I remember day and night counting every single registration in the last month. We heavily used social media to publicize the congress. Thanks to widespread usage of social media, we even had requests from teachers, high school students, engineers and even an Imam. For the persuasion part, we spent the previous year organizing workshops and seminars, translating ACT books, and inviting well-known speakers such as Kelly Wilson, Niklas Törneke, and Louise McHugh. We would like to thank them once again.

In terms of sharing values, we might say that this was not a simple “go and listen to some lectures” event, but rather this was “come and make it together”. We were very surprised when we heard from attendees phrases like “Do you need any help?” or “I wish I could help you more.” As a thoroughly independent organization, based solely on volunteer efforts, this feeling of togetherness helped us to continue.

Today, we are very happy to inform you that we succeeded to reach hundreds of people on 22-24th of September 2017 in Istanbul at Turkey’s and our region’s first CBS Congress. It was fabulous to see hundreds of people who were willing to share the same values with us. We want to thank all those people. Also, we would like to thank dear Robyn Walser and Louise McHugh, whose support, kindness, and willingness made enormous contributions to the event. We would like to thank the whole ACBS community for guiding us all these years. We invite you to join us for the next regional congress in 2019. I, personally, want to thank all my friends, as it was a privilege to be with them all.

This was the story of our “Journey from Pain to Change”. In the end, it is not a story just about us, it is about all of us.

Ahmet Nalbant, M.D. is a psychiatrist in Istanbul.  He is currently the President of the ACBS Turkey Chapter.