Category Archives: Newsletter

Testimonial: Beck CBT Online

Being a psychiatry trainee necessitates multitasking. Keeping a balance between work, studies, self-development, personal life, hobbies, responsibilities, struggles, self-doubts, victories and losses. It is always interesting, exciting, sometimes exhausting and fearful, but never boring.

In this busy schedule, it is difficult to find time for additional education. I was very glad to participate in the competition for the Beck Institute’s CBT online course. The competition was organized by the EFPT Psychotherapy working group during the EFPT Forum in Istanbul.

Online education gives the freedom to choose where, when and how much time to spend on studying. With modern technology, it is possible to learn new things while sitting with a phone on the bus in the traffic jam or sipping a double cappuccino in a cozy cafeteria with your laptop.

My expectations from this CBT course were influenced by my previous experience with online courses. However, to my great surprise, all these expectations were exceeded!

I would like to emphasize a high quality of this course. The excellent quality of video content and technical side made me feel like it was a one-to-one dialogue with a lecturer. It is important to note that despite being a non-native English speaker, it was easy to understand the course thanks to the clear pronunciation of the lecturer. I would like to thank the support team, which does a wonderful job. They were helpful and supportive in solving any technical issues.

The course is well-structured with clear agenda. This transparent and structured approach not only helps with learning new things faster but also to retain the acquired knowledge.

The content is wide in breadth and diverse. There is a wonderful opportunity to learn from the interviews with Aron Beck about the origins of CBT. Also one can study the theoretical parts through lectures with Dr Judith Beck and gain a view of CBT concepts through animations. One can see fully debriefed role-plays, as well as observe round table discussions about real case issues with faculty members. There is a fully packed library with useful resources and selected researches. One can ask questions and share your experience with faculty members and peers. The forum, where everyone shares their experiences, ideas and questions, made me feel a part of a big community.

The course is oriented to practice. It is a real pleasure to see how the knowledge and skills I gained could be used daily in my clinical work with patients for reliable results. CBT focuses on solutions, encouraging patients to challenge distorted cognitions and change destructive patterns of behavior.

I would like to thank the Beck Institute and EFPT members for this wonderful opportunity to learn CBT online. I highly recommend this course for everyone who is interested in CBT and would like to learn it!

Best wishes

Olga Sidorova

EFPT Exchange: from Portugal to the Netherlands

EFPT Exchange Program is a short-term (2-6 weeks) observership for Psychiatry Trainees in Europe, established in 2011. It offers the opportunity to get acquainted with another mental health care system and different training programs, fostering international links among European trainees.

From 27th March to 7th April (2 weeks), I was placed in the Old Age Psychiatry Department of University Medical Center Groningen, under the supervision of Doctor W.H. van Zelst – Kwakkel and Doctor Aida Van de Poel – Mustafayeva.

Old Age Psychiatry is more than the simple application of general Psychiatry to the population aged over 65. It implies a mental shift, the need to follow a more sensitive and personalized medical practice, understanding the effect of coexistent physical illness with the normal ageing process. Considering the increasing life expectation of recent years, it is indeed a promising area for clinicians and researchers. Unfortunately, there is still lack of evidence for the treatment offered to older patients with mental disorders, and more basic and clinical research is needed.

During the period of internship, I had the opportunity to stay at the specialized ward, outpatient clinic and also to visit the liaison service. I mostly observed older patients with affective disorders (depression, anxiety and unexplained physical complaints), but also psychotic disorders. These mental disorders were very often comorbid with physical illnesses, including neurodegenerative disorders (such as Alzheimer’s disease) and other neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disorder. The Old Age Psychiatry Department promotes collaboration with internal medicine, geriatrics and neurology. I could also observe the main daily routines, attend multidisciplinary team meetings and participate in the clinical assessments of patients, where appropriated.

I also had the opportunity to attend the Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) Unit, under the supervision of Doctor Aida Van de Poel. ECT remains an important treatment for depressed geriatric patients with severe and/or treatment-resistant depression. In older patients, this medical procedure requires a careful assessment of potential benefits as well as potential risks (many of them related to anesthesia). I have also learned from conversations with Doctor Van Zelst, who is an expert in the field of psychoneurommunology and had developed several research projects about the post traumatic stress disorder in elderly patients.

This internship allowed me to have a general idea about Psychiatry Departments and health organization in Netherlands. Netherlands has an innovative mental health system and was one of the first countries to foster and promote old age psychiatry. The EU Commission Executive Agency for Health and Consumers (EAHC, 2011) has recently delivered a major report on the burden of mental disorders and inequalities in mental health in the Europe Union. Their report showed a lower prevalence of mental disorders in Netherlands (lifetime prevalence of 31.1%) than in Portugal (lifetime prevalence of 36.8%) and a smaller gender difference in terms of mental disorders in Netherlands when compared to Portugal. This difference could be perceived during my short internship period, and may have several causes, but is most likely to reflect complex socioeconomic and cultural factors.

This internship was also an opportunity to grow (not only professionally, but personally) to a much greater depth and expand my horizons by putting my psychiatric skills to work in this very different environment. Cultural variations do exist between Netherlands and Portugal – not to such a degree that we could properly appreciate culture-bound syndromes, for example, but it was possible to identify minor variations in how people communicate their symptoms and their distress.

As I had to rely many times on my nonverbal communications skills, I honestly think they improved during this internship. I have the general feeling I overcame linguistic and cultural challenges, learning not only knowledge, but experience. Even when we don’t share the same language with the patient, it is still possible to grasp a lot from him, as suffering and distress are often embodied in the appearance, posture, and affect.

Finally, I would like to mention Dr. Elena Melo and Dr. Michiel Over, who have helped me during the course of my internship.


Porto, 1st October 2017

Gustavo França, Medical Doctor, Psychiatry Trainee

Hospital de Magalhães Lemos, Porto, Portugal

EFPT Welcomes a new NTA – APFBF

Belgium is a small but very complex country, with two regions that often experience difficulty incommunicating with each other. Realising how poor ourcontacts were with our colleagues from other universities, a group of trainees from Brussels decided to create APFBF, whichstands for Association des Psychiatres en Formation de Belgique Francophone and translates in English as Association of Psychiatrists in Training from French-speaking Belgium.

The NTA’s complex name is very explicit about the motivation behind its creation: “French-speaking Belgium” because there is also a Dutch-speaking Belgium; “psychiatrists in training” because, even within our region, there is no common nomination for our job! It is our desire to gather these otherwise very dispersed trainees and represent them, and thus that we we created our NTA in 2016.

In only one year of existence we have already had several adventures : multiple meetings between the three faculties of French-speaking Belgium; outreach to our Dutch-speaking colleagues and fellow European trainees, namely through our participation at EFPT forums in Antwerp (2016) and in Istanbul (2017); and meeting our elders in Belgium who very kindly invited us to participate in their own meetings. Together we have attended conferences and very proudly organised two one-day symposia in Brussels, as well as dinners and informal gatherings.

We were surprised how the creation of this NTA was an important catalyst for this communication between trainees, which we were so avid to encourage.

We are eager to pursue this adventure, to which European collaboration EFPT adds a whole new range of possibilities and boosts our enthusiasm!

We therefore thank very warmly all the fellow EFPT member-countries for welcoming us in the family.


Charles Scelles

APFBF President

Greetings from an EFPT Alumnus

During and after the most recent EFPT Forum in Istanbul, where I officially stepped down from the EFPT board after 4 years of service, many have asked me what life brings after EFPT. Each time, I have found it difficult to answer that question while wondering if there is really such a thing as “after EFPT”. Perhaps it is just my stubborn reluctance to the notion of being “retired” and embracing the “alumnus” status, yet I still feel part of EFPT – a feeling I expect will linger on long after I will have finished my training (which is scheduled by 1.5 years from the time I am writing this piece). Stepping down from certain tasks and responsibilities of a formal EFPT role has certainly created some much-needed free space in my agenda, mailbox and mind, from which other projects in my professional and personal life can benefit. Yet I know that whenever I choose to step out into the world of European psychiatry once more, be it at a congress, exchange, EFPT Forum or simply in some new (digital) venture, I will meet all of my friends again!

I want to seize this opportunity to talk a bit about the decisions that lead me to take on a formal role in EFPT, first as member of the board and later as President-Elect. I am reiterating this story as some of you may find you can relate to this. In both cases, I owe so much to the people who encouraged and mentored me into taking my engagement with EFPT to the next level. I owe them for pushing me outside of my comfort zone and making me do something I would certainly not have been ambitious or confident enough to do on my own. Because of these EFPT friends who believed in me from the start and who helped me along the way, we were finally able to bring to life two ideas which  were the motor for my commitment in EFPT, i.e. the reform of Forum fees to make them more democratic and fair for trainees from lower income countries, and the project that eventually became #TYOT. Back then as much as today, I was eager to extend the rewards that EFPT brought to me personally to other trainees and I am therefore very proud of these collaborative achievements. Likewise, I am exceedingly proud of my fellow LOC members who did the unthinkable and moved heaven and earth to organize a successful Antwerp Forum seemingly against all odds! Even today, I am at a loss to understand how we managed to do what we did – thank you so much, dear friends!

I am confident that EFPT by itself is responsible for preventing me from burnout or dropping out of my training throughout these past years. Whenever I found myself frustrated or lacking in motivation in my workplace at times, EFPT offered the necessary inspiration, companionship and support through which I could both channel and fuel my ambition and passion to make a positive impact. I therefore feel extremely grateful to EFPT for giving me these opportunities, for allowing me to learn and grow in a safe yet challenging peer-supported environment. Each of the different EFPT boards I was a member of provided keen and distinct examples of leadership and teamwork which helped me to grow both in terms of skill and confidence – and to feel supported in finding my own personal style. I can recommend this experience to each and every psychiatry trainee. Whatever role you take on, EFPT will not let you down!

In summary, to cite the wise words of our current EFPT president which were sung at a certain International Night in a certain Flemish city: “EFPT – nothing compares to you!”


Livia De Picker

EFPT President 2015-2016

Leadership course during the 2017 Istanbul Forum

From the 27th to 29th of June 2017, 15 psychiatric trainees and clinical psychologists from 7 different countries gathered in Istanbul for the “EFPT Leadership and Professionals Skills Course”. Under the expert guidance of Prof. Norman Sartorius and Prof. Levent Küey, we improved our presentation skills and learned how to make a proper introduction, to give a speech, to write a CV and motivation letter, to design a poster, to write a funding proposal and to chair a meeting. It was an inspiring experience to be surrounded by such motivated and enthusiastic colleagues.

Apart from all the practical advice I received, this Course gave me the courage and self-confidence to stand up for what I believe in and take the chances and opportunities that are before me.

Inspired by the Course I decided to run for the position of EFPT Secretary General at the EFPT Forum. Giving that one minute election speech during the General Assembly was nerve-wracking, but keeping in mind my newly gained skills I was confident I could do it. I’m very happy to be elected and to be able to serve this wonderful federation in the upcoming year.

I want to thank the EFPT and local organising committee for making this Course possible. In this way you raised my “Hope for the Future of Psychiatry”.


Anne Nobels
Psychiatric trainee and PhD fellow, Ghent University Belgium
EFPT Secretary General

The early days of the EFPT

I got involved in the early days of the EFPT by accident. I was elected as a regional representative from the North of England to the Royal College of Psychiatrists Trainees Committee in 1993. At my first meeting, elections were held for various bodies, one of which was for the European Forum for Psychiatric Trainees as the previous representatives had left the committee. When no-one else expressed any interest I put my name forward and was elected unopposed! This really demonstrated the ambivalence that the UK had towards the EFPT in the early days: I was the first UK citizen to represent the UK at the EPFT!

I attended my first forum in April 1994 in Cork, Ireland, the second formal meeting of the organisation. This meeting was preoccupied with the constitution of the organisation – who could attend and so on. The forum agreed to seek representation from representative organisations of psychiatric trainees in European countries and to promote the development of those organisations. The annual meeting would aim to produce consensus statements on training issues and to promote the views of trainees to relevant international bodies.

I attended subsequent forum meetings in Copenhagen (1995), Lisbon (1996) and Athens (1997) by which time I had become the Chair of the UK Psychiatric Trainees Committee. Each forum had its own character, shaped by the host country and their trainees. With English being the language of the forum, it often felt like the UK delegates were there to act as mediators to resolve linguistic conflicts and ensure statements stated precisely what was intended. The challenge in the early years was to get the organisation on a sound financial footing and to ensure continuity of representation from countries with fragile trainee organisations.  Keeping communication going was tougher in the days before e-mail and social media!

Representing your country at the EFPT represents an unrivalled opportunity to get an international perspective on medical training and many delegates over the years have gone onto leadership positions in psychiatry in their own countries.

Dr Lenny Cornwall

Best Country Poster 2017

The theme for this year’s country poster session was “Gateways of Hope”. The prize for best country poster was shared by two countries:


The 25th European Forum of Psychiatric Trainees, that took place in Istanbul at the beginning of July, was the most challenging, yet rewarding among all EFPT Forums so far from the Polish NTA’s perspective. It all started in Spring – the first rays of sun after a long and exhausting winter gave us all motivation to start brainstorming about our participation in the event to make it truly meaningful. The first key decision was to identify those trainees willing to travel to Turkey and proudly represent Poland – we wanted to prioritize new members to ensure a satisfying level of freshness and creativity within the further discussions. After a couple of announcements shared through social media by Tomasz Gondek, Chair of the Specialty Training Section of the Polish Psychiatric Association, we were flooded with applications from all over the country. In only few hours we had enough candidates to create not one, but three delegations! Overwhelmed with work at the local level, we postponed our planning phase until June. And then the whole subtle plan collapsed: one by one participants-to-be resigned for various reasons and mid-June there was only one person on the list (and this person was me!).

A few days before the beginning of the 25th EFPT Forum I was sitting in front of an empty paper doodling with my pen, not sure how to avoid boring templates and clichés when presenting our NTA’s work under the theme “Gateways of hope”. Totally drained of energy and motivation. Then I realized that this is the time to think outside the box. To make a change first you need to believe in it. Next is to convince others to follow you! This is how I came to the idea of a poster inspired by a true (revolutionary) art piece: old Soviet propaganda materials for “common people”. I have entitled it, slightly changing a popular slogan used back then “With a great labor we will fulfill the plan!” and decided to focus on 4 pillars of the change: 1) joint efforts of all young Polish doctors associated in “Porozumienie Rezydentów” (“Trainees’ Alliance”) to fight for fair earnings and decent working conditions 2) efforts of the NTA’s local branches to keep our work more to the needs of regular psychiatry trainees 3) summer schools planned in cooperation with the Polish Psychiatric Association 4) internships for medical students led by young psychiatrists (& trainees) to fight the stigmatization of this very delicate field of medicine. It turned out to hit the bullseye and Poland received its first EFPT Poster Award ever!

I must admit that the 25th European Forum of Psychiatric Trainees was an intense, packed experience, both from a professional and social point of view. It also brought some unexpected changes to my own life, as I decided to take up the position of Chair within the Research Working Group. It means that we will see each other next year at the 26th Forum in Bristol… meanwhile take care Comrades!


The Latvian Young Psychiatrist section is a subsection of the Latvian Psychiatric Association and it consists of psychiatry trainees and young colleagues. The aim of our section is to inspire young colleagues in their professional development, implement educational projects, support each other and share acquired knowledge.

We decided to make our poster in a special way and compiled it from various moments that we have experienced, because life is like a camera.

We focus on what seems important, capture the good experiences, learn from the negative ones and, when necessary, come back and take another shot.

One of this year’s big projects was made in collaboration with The Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (CDPC) of Latvia. Psychiatry trainees delivered lectures in different Latvian schools with the aim of decreasing stigma about mental health and psychiatry among pupils. The project had a very good feedback from both the audience and participants. We plan to continue it during the next year.

This spring an international film festival MedFest was led by our psychiatric trainees and held in Rīga Stradiņš University, with the aim of raising the profile of mental health issues. It was free to attend and open to everyone interested.

Paediatric and Psychiatric trainees collaborated to arrange an educational seminar for both specialities to discuss relevant topics together.

Our trainees actively participated in different conferences, congresses, summer schools and seminars. We also engaged in exchange programmes and work experience abroad, namely in Iceland and Sweden. We are proud of our colleagues’ achievements during these activities. We are truly glad and proud for our colleague Liene Berze who won the best trainee award in Rīga Stradiņš University.

We are very happy that we participated in this year’s EFPT Forum in amazing Istanbul and grateful to have received a bursary that made our participation possible.

David is the new IT secretary

Psychiatry is the most diverse specialty in medicine at the crossroads of science, arts and humanities. There are still many doors to be opened in order to humanise our field and that requires creativity, enthusiasm and engagement. Qualities that you can have no matter which step of the way you find yourself at, whether you are a first-year trainee or Norman Sartorius. This is why EFPT makes so much sense to me, because trainees can and should make a difference in “shaping the future of psychiatry”.

This year’s Forum in Istanbul marked a new moment in my engagement with EFPT. I was proudly representing French-speaking Belgian trainees, whose NTA is now part of the EFPT family, I started co-chairing the much needed Psychotherapy working group and had the great honour of being elected the new IT secretary of EFPT.

Within my tasks in the Board I envision pushing the limits of EFPT’s collaborations with other fields of human development in order to pursue the outstanding job EFPT has been doing in promoting a positive image of psychiatry. My first step will be a total make-over of our website so that it can reach more trainees worldwide and spread EFPT’s values. Anyone interested in collaborating with creative ideas and inspiration feel free to speak your minds!

I hope that my engagement can inspire other trainees to use their strengths and motivation to render psychiatry more beautiful and open.

By David de Freitas Pereira

Best Junior Scientist Presentation 2017: Gumru Ahmadova, Azerbaijan

It was a great experience to be part of this Forum. Finally, our country became an EFPT member country this year. In addition to this, becoming the winner of the Best Junior Scientist Oral Presentation Award made me feel very inspired.

I would like to show my deepest gratitude to the Jury members – Prof Cem Atbasoglu and Prof Bedirhan Ustun for choosing my study as the best presentation and all EFPT organisers for giving me the opportunity to share the current achievements and problems of mental health services in Azerbaijan with our colleagues from different countries of Europe. My project – “Developing of Tool for Quality Assurance of Mental Health Inpatient Services in Azerbaijan” was about developing an instrument to monitor and evaluate the quality of mental health services in the context of human rights in Azerbaijan, which I defended successfully in my masters dissertation in Lisbon. Actually, I only decided to apply on the last day because I thought ”Crossing the Bridge” should include patients perspectives. While offering them services we should take into consideration patients’ human rights issues, especially during hospitalisation. It was also great to have had a chance to discuss human rights problems faced during involuntary hospitalisation within our “Involuntary intervention” working group session with colleagues from Austria, Portugal, Russia, Netherland and Croatia.

I hope we all will enjoy meeting again in the next EFPT Forums!

By Gumru Ahmadova, MD, MSc

MENTA in Istanbul: Bridging psychiatric trainees in Europe and the world

One of the most distinctive characteristics of Istanbul is its bridges: its location as a wonderful city between Asia and Europe, formerly the capital of great empires, and more recently the success of our spirit over the fear of the terrorism. EFPT Istanbul 2017 has seen the participation of trainees from more than 30 countries, a scientific event which mirrored the skyline (“Crossing the bridge”), and the renewal of the Federation with new and enthusiastic trainees, who have been empowered to take an active role and keep all this moving…

The Maintaining and Establishing National Trainees Associations (MENTA) working group had also to cross its bridge in this Forum. The legacy of past generations of extraordinary trainees, led by Tomasz Gondek, included the establishment of several NTAs in Europe (most recently in Poland, Spain, FYROM and Azerbaijan), the inclusion of these and other NTAs (french-speaking Belgium, Czech Republic) as full members of EFPT and the promotion of trainees associations in other countries in Europe (Kosovo, Moldova, Iceland) and the world (Iran, Bolivia…).

Our new team includes trainees from Spain, Poland, FYROM, Czech Republic, Azerbaijan, Kosovo, Turkey and Slovakia, with the purpose of continuing this great work and promoting EFPT as an active organization and a model for trainees in Europe and around the globe. We hope to celebrate new achievements in the Forum of 2018 in Bristol, and to see how our great family keeps growing!

By Víctor Pereira Sánchez