Keynote Speakers

Opening speakers


Robert Elliott

Opening Conference talk: In Search of the Kernel of Interpersonal Helping

Robert Elliott, PhD, Professor of Counselling University of Strathclyde.


Dan Zahavi

Opening Conference talk: Psychotherapy and Applied Phenomenology

Dan Zahavi is Professor of Philosophy at University of Copenhagen and University of Oxford, and director of the Center for Subjectivity Research in Copenhagen. Zahavi’s primary research area is phenomenology and philosophy of mind, and their intersection with empirical disciplines such as psychiatry and psychology. In addition to a number of scholarly works on the phenomenology of Husserl, Zahavi has mainly written on the nature of selfhood, self-consciousness, intersubjectivity, empathy, and social ontology. His most important publications include Self-Awareness and Alterity (1999), Husserl’s Phenomenology (2003), Subjectivity and Selfhood (2005), The Phenomenological Mind (together with Shaun Gallagher) (2008/2012), Self and Other (2014), Husserl’s Legacy (2017), and Phenomenology: The Basics (2019). Zahavi also serves as the co-editor in chief of the journal Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences. Over the years, Zahavi has received a number of academic awards for his work including the Elite Research Prize, and the Carlsberg Foundation’s Research Prize. He is also the recipient of an Advanced Grant from the European Research Council. His writings have been translated into more than 30 languages.

Main speakers


Susan Stephen

Conference talk: Holding True: The Continuing Resonance of Rogers’ Theory 

Being a person-centered therapist involves commitment to an emergent practice in which we bring our whole (congruent) selves, meeting our clients person-to-person without techniques or manuals to ‘manage’ the process. In today’s incongruent world, this approach is as radical as it was in Rogers’ time. My response to Rogers’ question - how can I be of help? - will focus on what ‘helping’ means to me as a person-centered therapist. First, the kind of help (that is, outcome) that clients can anticipate when working with a fully-involved person-centered therapist. I will introduce a model of ‘congruent functioning’, a contemporary reframing of Rogers’ concept of the fully functioning person. I will consider how we work with our clients’ expectations of therapy (typically shaped by the dominant paradigm) when we invite them to ‘sign up’ for this counter-cultural kind of help. Second, I will reflect on the nature of the commitment that we make as person-centered therapists to help our clients in this way. Maintaining our own congruent functioning is an ongoing process, especially challenging when living and working in a results-oriented culture. How can we support ourselves and our colleagues to ‘show up’ for each and every client?
I will argue that Rogers’ theory holds true in contemporary person-centered practice and that as person-centered therapists we can be of most help to our clients when we are able to hold true to ourselves.


Susan Stephen, Ph.D., is a person-centered therapist, supervisor, trainer and researcher based in Glasgow, Scotland. Her research interests include investigating the development of congruent functioning in person-centered therapy, exploring methodological innovations in measure development and case study research, and supporting practitioners to develop an informed approach to measurement in counselling. Susan is an active member of the national and international person-centred community with contributions as Secretary of PCT Scotland (2004-7), Chair of the Board of the World Association for Person-Centered & Experiential Psychotherapy & Counseling (2010-2013; Board Member, 2008-14), and, since 2018, as a co-editor of the international peer-reviewed journal, Person-Centered & Experiential Psychotherapies.


Akira Ikemi

Keynote talk: How Can I Be of Help to You and to Me: Focusing and Mindfulness Perspectives

Akira Ikemi, Ph.D., Clinical Psychologist, Focusing-Oriented Psychotherapist, Professor: Kansai University Graduate School of Psychology. Having been raised in an international community in Kobe, Japan, Akira is English-Japanese bilingual. He graduated magna cum laude double majoring in psychology and philosophy at Boston College. He studied with Professor Eugene Gendlin at the University of Chicago Graduate Division and then returned to Japan. He worked at the Kitakyushu Municipal Hospital and then at the University of Occupational & Environmental Health School of Medicine where he got his doctorate. Since then, he has taught at Okayama University, Kobe College and now at Kansai University. He has taught part-time at universities including Shizuoka University Graduate School, Hyogo University of Teacher Education Graduate Division, Kyushu University, the University of Strathclyde (UK). He has also been a doctoral thesis examiner at the University of East Anglia (UK) and the University of Sydney (Australia). Akira has served as one of the founders and past-presidents of the Japan Focusing Association, and has served as board members of the Japanese Association of Humanistic Psychology, The International Focusing Institute (USA), World Association of Person-Centered and Experiential Psychotherapy and Counseling (UK). Currently he is a member of the steering committee of the Eugene Gendlin Center and an editorial member of the journal, Person-Centered and Experiential Psychotherapies. He teaches Focusing all across Japan and worldwide, including China, Australia, Greece, United Kingdom, United States of America.


Leslie Greenberg

Conference talk: Changing Emotion with Emotion
One-day pre-conference workshop: The Transforming Power of Emotions

Leslie Greenberg, Ph.D., is Distinguished Research Professor Emeritus of Psychology at York University in Toronto. He was originally trained in Person Centered and Gestalt therapy and engaged in psychotherapy research. He has authored the major texts on Emotion Focused Therapy from the first books Emotion in Psychotherapy (1986) and Emotionally Focused Therapy for Couples (1988) to most recent Emotion-Focused Therapy (2015) and Emotion Focused Therapy of Forgiveness and Letting Go (2019). He has received both the Early Career and the Distinguished Research Career Award of the International Society for Psychotherapy Research as well as the Carl Rogers and the Distinguished Professional Contribution to Applied Research of the American Psychology Association. He also has received the Canadian Psychological Association Professional Award for distinguished contributions to Psychology as a profession. He is a past President of the Society for Psychotherapy Research. He now spends the majority of his time training people in emotion–focused approaches.


Dagmar Nuding

Conference talk: Being of Help in Person-Centered and Experiential Treatment of Young People

Dr. Dagmar Nuding works as a lecturer for Educational Psychology, Counselling and Intervention at the University of Education in Schwaebisch Gmuend, Germany and as psychotherapist for children, young people and families in a private practice. She is the chair of the German Association for Person-Centered Therapy and Counselling (GwG) and has been honored with the Virginia Axline Young Talent Award. With Mick Cooper and Jeanne Watson she is one of the co-editors of the book Person-Centered Psychotherapy Works. She was part of the Editorial Board of the International Person-Centered Journal PERSON (2010-2016). As Secretary General of the German Association for Person-Centered Therapy and Couselling (GwG) she edited the journal Gesprächspsychotherapie und Personzentrierte Beratung (2011-2016). Between 2016 and 2019 she was the second chairperson at the GwG. She is involved in the education of person-centered counselors and therapists for children and young people in Germany.

Semi plenary speakers


Shigeru Iwakabe

The topic was found through a delphi panel using the scientific committee as the expert panel. The topic was one of the top 5 themes answering the question: What are or will be the most important themes/topics that represent the
emerging growth edges of the PCE approach in the next 10 years?

Shigeru Iwakabe, Ph.D., is a professor in Clinical Psychology at Ochanomizu University in Tokyo, Japan. He conducts psychotherapy research on client emotional processes from an integrative perspective. His research interests include: training and professional development in psychotherapy, case study research method, psychotherapy integration, and cultural and social issues related to the practice of psychotherapy. His publication includes: Iwakabe, S., Fukushima, T., & Ito, E. (2013). Introduction to clinical psychology: Traversing various approaches. Iwakabe, S. (2010). The process of qualitative research in clinical psychology. Iwakabe, S. (2009). Research methods in psychotherapy process research. Iwakabe, S. (2008). Clinical explorations of therapeutic failures: How therapists face, work through, and grow from their mistakes. He also translated several major books on emotion-focused therapy into Japanese. He serves as a co-chair of research committee for Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy (AEDP), directing an international practice-research network study examining the process and outcome of AEDP. He is the past president for The Society for Exploration of Psychotherapy Integration (SEPI). He serves as a member of executive committee for Japanese Association of Clinical Psychology and also as a committee member of several psychological associations. He is a co-chief editor for Counselling Psychology Quarterly and also on an editorial board member for a number of international journals. He also practices both individual and couples therapy from an affect-focused integrative perspective.


Carol Wolter-Gustafson

The topic was found through a delphi panel using the scientific committee as the expert panel. The topic was one of the top 5 themes answering the question: What are or will be the most important themes/topics that represent the
emerging growth edges of the PCE approach in the next 10 years?

Carol Wolter-Gustafson,


Christian Hjortkjær

”You are a TOY!” – Kierkegaard’s Concept of Courage and Anxiety in Toy Story
Through an analysis of Pixar’s Toy Story we will see how “the secret art of helping” according to Kierkegaard is not an attempt to ease the pain or remove the problems in life but rather an upbuilding act of helping the other person to regain the very courage to live.

Christian Hjortkjær, Ph.d. from The Søren Kierkegaard Research Center at The University of Copenhagen. Author of several books on the topics of existential theology, ethics and psychology. Currently lectures, writes and teaches existential matters at a Danish Folk High School.


Peter Berliner

How Can We be of Help? Indigenous Community Healing Today
More info will follow

Peter Berliner, PhD, professor of psychology at Ilisimatusarfik/University of Greenland.