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Welcome to our congress


 Olayinka Omigbodun, congress president

Olayinka Omigbodun President of the congress

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The 20th World IACAPAP Congress from July 21st to 25th 2012 in Paris promises to be a very unique experience for several reasons. The very first IACAPAP Congress held in 1937 was hosted in Paris with Georges Heuyer as Congress President. In IACAPAP’s history, Paris embodies a starting point for several decades of successful congresses around the world. A return to Paris in 2012 is a reminder of a little beginning which had been built up, nurtured and sustained by the vision, passion, sacrifice, unity and friendships among so many child and adolescent professionals who held the reins of this Association through the years.

Paris is hosting the IACAPAP congress for the third time, the only city in the world to have enjoyed such attention and privilege in bringing together professionals from the multiple disciplines involved in the study of the mental health of children and caring for children with mental health problems. Furthermore, the Congress President at the second Congress hosted by Paris in 1986, Colette Chiland, is the Coordinator of the Steering Committee for Paris 2012. Colette brings into organizing this congress, strength, commitment and years of experience as a dedicated IACAPAP leader. She will work with David Cohen the President of the Organizing Committee, Claude Bursztejn, President of the Program Committee, and members of the French Society for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines in making the arrangements. Paris will enjoy the benefits of experience and this will be reflected in the congress.

The theme for this congress, ‘Brain, Mind and Development’, represents a shift in focus from ‘processes’ for child mental health advancement, which formed the basis of the themes for the last three congresses in the previous decade and the first in this one, to scientific advancement and breakthroughs that will lay the foundations for better understanding of and caring for the mental health problems of children in future. The theme for the 16th World Congress in 2004 was ‘facilitating pathways’, for the 17th World Congress in Melbourne in 2006, ‘nurturing diversity’, and for the 18th Congress in Istanbul in 2008, ‘Carrying Hope Between East and West for 3 C’s : Children, Cultures, Conflicts’. At the 19th Congress in Beijing in 2010, the theme was, “Improving Child Mental Health : Increasing Awareness and New Pathways for Care”. The theme for the Paris Congress represents a significant move away from ‘processes’ to ‘content’. Lest CAMH professionals in developing regions worry about their lack of tools for high-technology research involving genes and imaging techniques, an in-depth look at the theme provides opportunities for all to display their work, irrespective of region. What factors in our environments act as resilience or vulnerability factors for the developing child ? How do our diverse cultural practices impact the brain and mind of the developing child ?

Let’s gather together in Paris to celebrate IACAPAP’s history, practice and progress in child mental health worldwide. There are facilities for participants to speak in either English or French. Paris promises to provide a rich scientific programme, an assemble of participant’s from better-resourced and resource–poor settings, diverse cultures, an unbeatable social networking opportunity as the CAMH professionals the world over gather to speak about and for its children.

Seventy-five years after the first IACAPAP Congress was held in Paris, welcome to Paris 2012.

Olayinka Omigbodun


 Colette Chiland

Colette Chiland Steering Committee Coordinator

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The theme that we have chosen for the 20th World Congress of the IACAPAP, « Brain, Mind and Development », is an invitation to explore the consequences entailed by the advances made by the neurosciences in understanding the functioning of the mind and in treating its disorders.

The past few decades have seen significant developments in how we conceive of the interactions between our biological background and the environment. We no longer think in terms of a direct and linear causality between a gene and a given disorder, nor in terms of innate and acquired. Account is taken of the genomic material and the environment as a whole, development is thought of as an epigenesis, and, in the case of psychopathological disorders, a distinction is drawn between several kinds of factors : risk, prognostic, protective and those that maintain the pathological condition.

Of course, nothing can take place in psychological life without something occurring in the brain — neuro-functional imaging techniques have made this abundantly clear. That said, the brain structure that any given baby has at birth is activated and shaped by his or her subsequent life-experiences. Mankind does not have a primordial language — the language that we speak is the one that is spoken to us ; although the same brain area is activated when we read, our reading of the Roman alphabet or Chinese characters depends on cultural learning factors.

In all branches of activity in the mental health field, the challenge that we face is how to combine scientific rigour with a humane relationship. Recent discoveries as to neuronal plasticity and epigenesis shed new light on the relationship between risk factors, biological or social, and child development, on psychological therapeutic methods and brain functioning, and on traumatic experiences and the manner in which they are transmitted to the child.

Accordingly, as regards major psychopathological disorders, sharing clinical experience from many different countries will undoubtedly be one of the significant objectives of this Congress.



David Cohen

David Cohen Organizing Committee President

Claude Bursztejhn

Claude Bursztejn Program Committee President