Transcending Divisiveness & Polarization - APA 2020 Keynote Session

This Keynote session will entail brief presentations from our conversation moderators followed by a courageous unrehearsed conversation among panelists. The aims of this session are twofold: 1) the facilitation of depolarizing communication around the topic of practice guidelines, and other issues within our Divisions and APA that have been cause for increasing divisiveness; and 2) to provide a model of how to have conversations that are unifying rather than polarizing about different issues among different groups. We are living in an increasingly divided and polarized world, and we could all stand to spread more compassion, understanding, and collaboration. Rev. Mpho Tutu van Furth and Venerable Thubten Jigme will provide some guidance for the conversation, informed by the South African concept of ubuntu which shaped the truth and reconciliation model, and by the Buddhist practices of inward focus and interdependence. Following this guidance, our courageous conversationalists, experts in one or more trauma psychology arena (research, practice, social justice and/or policy advocacy), participated in an unscripted conversation around the issue of practice guidelines.

After viewing the courageous conversation please watch the recording of the live interactive feedback and Q&A session.

Presented by:

Rev. Mpho Tutu van Furth

Ven. Thubten Jigme

Laura S. Brown, Ph.D.

Diane Elmore Borbon, Ph.D., MPH

Seven D. Hollon, Ph.D.

Ani Kalayjan, Ed.D., DSc

Pamela P. Remer, Ph.D.

Paula P. Schnurr, Ph.D.

Anneliese A. Singh, Ph.D.

Carolyn B. Allard, Ph.D., ABPP

Learning Objectives:

1. Describe the essential elements of post-apartheid Truth and Reconciliation and Buddhist models of conciliatory communication models.

2. Describe the essential elements of Buddhist practices of self focused compassion that facilitate other focused compassion.

3. Utilize depolarizing communication skills to transcend divisive communications


Rev. Tutu van Furth is a minister, speaker, author and activist who shares with others how apply the South African concept of ubuntu, which shaped the truth and reconciliation model and The Book of Forgiving, which she co-authored with her father, Rev. Desmond Tutu, to engage in depolarization and transformational conversations. Ven. Thubten is a psychiatric nurse practitioner ordained Buddhist nun who provides consultations and trainings on time tested (and now empirically supported) Buddhist practices that promote connection, peace and well-being. The panelists (Laura S. Brown, PhD; Diane Elmore Borbon, PhD, MPH; Seven D. Hollon, PhD; Pamela P. Remer, PhD; Paula P. Schnurr, PhD) are psychology leaders in research, practice, social and policy advocacy who have been involved in the development of practice guidelines and/or public discourse about them. Division 56 President, Carolyn B. Allard, PhD, ABPP, is Chairing the session.


Elmore Borbon, D. & Tant, E. (2020). Trauma and Violence Across the Lifespan: Public Policy Advances, Challenges, and Future Directions. In B. Geffner, V. Vieth, V. Vaughan-Eden, A Rosenbaum, L. K. Hamberger, & J. White (Eds), Handbook of Interpersonal Violence Across the Lifespan. New York, NY: Springer.

Courtois, C.A. & Brown, L.S. (2019). Guideline orthodoxy and resulting limitations of the APA Clinical Practice Guideline for the Treatment of PTSD in Adults: Introduction to the Special Issue. Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, Training, 3, 329-339.

Hamblen, J.L., Norman, S.B., Sonis, J.H., Phelps, A.J., Bisson, J.T., Nunes, V.D., Megnin-Viggars, O., Forbes, D., Riggs, D., & Schnurr, P.P. (2019). A guide to guidelines for the treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder in adults: An update. Psychotherapy, 56, 359-373. doi:10.1037/pst0000231

Hollon, S. D., Areán, P. A., Craske, M. G., Crawford, K. A., Kivlahan, D. R., Magnavita, J. J., ... & Galper, D. I. (2014). Development of clinical practice guidelines. Annual review of clinical psychology, 10, 213-241.

Magruder, K. M., McLaughlin, K. A., & Elmore Borbon, D. L. (2017). Trauma is a public health problem. European Journal of Psychotraumatology, 8:1. doi: 10.1080/20008198.2017.1375338

Remer, P. (2013). Feminist counseling and psychotherapy. In J. Frew & M. Spiegler (Eds.), Contemporary psychotherapies for a diverse world, (pp. 373-414). New York, NY: Routledge.
  • Keynote Courageous Conversation Recording
  • Live Q&A Recording
  • APA2020 Keynote Courageous Convo Allard 7_27_20.pdf
  • Courageous Conversation - Test
  • Division 56 Survey
Completion rules
  • All units must be completed
  • Leads to a certification with a duration: Forever