In 2021, Ljubljana will act as the proud host of the 17th edition of the biennial European Congress of Psychology (ECP). In presenting its strong and convincing candidacy, the Slovenian Psychological Association together with partner Cankarjev dom outshined its fellow competitors, Lisbon (Portugal) and Nicosia (Cyprus), at this year’s 15th EFPA General Assembly in Amsterdam. ECP is the largest congress of psychology in Europe and one of the most important events of its kind in the world. With approximately 3,000 delegates who are expected to visit Ljubljana in summer 2021 from all over the world, Ljubljana will enjoy the privilege of a world psychology capital.

Brief presentation for the general public:
is a congress centred on general psychology, with scientists and researchers presenting their latest findings. It covers various aspects of psychology, from developmental psychology, through methodology, social psychology and neuropsychology to psychotherapy. In view of the numerous parallel programmes, a delegate can follow (should he wish to do so) the sessions dedicated exclusively to his field of specialisation.

Usually, the congress includes at least 10 plenary sessions and over 1,000 oral presentations with twice as many posters. However, the Organising Committee of the Slovenian Psychological Association is planning to introduce some new features in 2021, including a Student Day and Bilateral Meetings.

INTERVIEW WITH MARKO VRTOVEC, President of the Slovenian Psychologists Association

Q: What are the main challenges of your professional discipline today?
Globally, the greatest challenge of present-day psychology is the rapid advancement of the study of the mechanisms of human psyche. Neuropsychology has been taking giant steps forward, undergoing accelerated development in understanding the biological bases of human mental processes with the help of cutting-edge technology; the biochemical processes determining our cognition. For this reason, psychology is increasingly veering towards natural sciences, diverging from the sociological or humanistic paradigms on which it was traditionally based.

In Slovenia, the greatest aim of psychology is to legally regulate the profession by following in the footsteps of the 24 European countries that have already officially recognised the profession. This regulation aims to protect the users of psychological advice services; given the overabundance of various providers of pseudo-psychological counselling services an ill-informed user can quickly get confused and misled, and the consequences can be detrimental to his psychological well-being.

Marko Vrtovec directly after the announcment that ECP 2021 is going to be held in Slovenia

Q: What is the contribution of Slovenia (your department) to the development of the activity?
Slovenia is a leading European country in terms of the advanced supervised practice system for beginner psychologists. Moreover, Slovenia boasts world-class neuropsychologists, names as imminent as Dr Repovš in Ljubljana and Dr Jaušovec in Maribor. Mention should also be made of all the other researchers who have significantly contributed to the scientific study of human mental processes.

Q: Why did you choose CD Congress Centre Ljubljana as the venue for ECP 2021?
Cankarjev dom is the only venue in Slovenia that can host an event of this scale and cater for our diversified programme under one roof: this congress centre has a large hall suitable for plenary sessions and the available number of meeting rooms to accommodate all the parallel lectures. Thus, Cankarjev dom is the ideal venue for this congress; neither too small nor too large. On the other hand, the congress team of CD has simply fascinated us: they are professional, efficient and adaptable; it’s just hard to believe this congress centre is a public institute and not a private company.

CD Congress Centre Ljubljana

Q: What do you expect from the ECP 2021 congress you are planning?
In hosting the ECP Congress Slovenian psychology will solidify its international recognition and prove that our researchers can be regarded as being on a par with their peers from much larger countries. Moreover, the congress will boost the self-confidence of Slovenian psychologists and strengthen our position in society. In organising the congress’ scientific programme, the Slovenian Psychological Association will collaborate with the psychology departments of three Slovenian universities: those of Ljubljana, Maribor and Primorska. Thereby, the congress will also strengthen the ties among Slovenia’s three faculties that include a psychology department.

At the same time, we also wish to open the congress to non-professional public – with their abundant knowledge psychologists can help society combat many of its problems. In cooperation with the Municipality of Ljubljana we would also like to organise at least one public lecture by an international psychology celebrity – preferably somewhere outdoors; at the Tivoli Park, for example.

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